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Crash course in social media marketing for small businesses: Part 1 of 3 – Branding and Awareness

Crash Course

(Photo – Flickr Creative Commons: A200Wells)

Social media marketing aides branding and awareness, builds community, provides customer service opportunities, allows for research, development and collaboration, and offers direct sales opportunities. Individuals and brands are using social media for all of the above as well as for customer growth, loyalty and acquisition. The clincher? You can too!

But social media marketing does nothing without a plan: without goals you have no direction. Without objectives, you don’t know what to measure. Without strategies, you won’t make progress. So where do you start? This week, we’ll outline a simple, three-step social media marketing plan that any PR pro or small biz buff can conduct in-house and show you how to measure its value so you know you’re getting results–Part1:

Branding and awareness: (the image of your product in the market, its perception by others)

First you have to establish your goals: What level of awareness do you want for your brand? How far do you want your messages to reach? Locally? Nationally? Worldwide? What type of conversations do you want to facilitate about your organization? And where and how often should they take place? You want consumers to prefer your brand over the competition, and to be highly familiar—when people hear the name, they know exactly what you do.

How: start with research. Who is your competition? Make sure you have your own website and blog highlighting your company. Create a distinctive logo and set of colors for your company theme. Instead of spewing information about how great your product may be, have your consumers speak for you and create content that benefits both you and them. By providing helpful information that isn’t always yours, listening and engaging with your community online and providing excellent customer service, you’ll naturally and eventually build brand advocates that will provide positive feedback about your services to prospects voluntarily. It takes time to build brand advocates but once they are established, they prove to be the best marketing tool in your kit. Advertise in both print and multimedia (if it fits your goals), and design promotions and contests. Have a presence online where your audience is: on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other social media platforms.

In order to measure your branding and awareness efforts, utilize focus groups and giveaways to ask brand preference questions and gauge awareness before, during and after marketing campaigns. Aside from focus groups, social media can actually tell you everything you need to know. With social media, you can see exactly what people are saying about your brand–you’ll get information on what people like and don’t like, instantly and easily. Social media also facilitates conversation–you can ask questions and speak directly with consumers. Monitor social media conversations about your organization for free using apps on OneForty, or an in-depth analytics dashboard such as Vocus. Finally, calculate Q scores by conducting surveys to evaluate brand familiarity.

Part 2 of our crash course in social media marketing for small businesses: community building comes on Wednesday–stay tuned!

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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