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Social media is a way of getting others to talk about your services, brand or products. It’s about finding your customers where they are. Social media is not simply buying a banner add that runs on a social network. It uses marketing techniques to generate discussion and promote information, attitudes, values and behaviours.

Social media is best understood as a new kind of online media, even though it has been around for a while. Everyone is talking about social media, but what exactly is the big fuss?

What do you want from social media?

With social media, brand awareness and reputation can go in either direction. If your social media campaign doesn’t work out, you can end up with quite a lot of negative publicity on your hand. It is important that you know what you want from social media, and how you are going to achieve it. Do you want to use social media as a channel to get customer engagement, or do you want to use it as a channel where your customer can express their views and concerns about your services or products?

Test before you commit

If you are still unsure of what Social Media Marketing (SMM) consist of, take things slow and don’t push yourself. If you push too much promotional information on your social stream you will end up being labelled as a spammer. Start by building a blog and create your social media profiles on popular social media sites to get in touch with your customers. Listen before you start selling and provide value before you start marketing.

Understand your audience

Once you have familiarized yourself with social media and you have established your presence, it is time to consider different options you have available to expand your reach. Interact with your network and followers. If you find that more of your network is composed of men with a keen interest in technology, it is very likely that other men in the same age group will be interested in joining your network. Engage in discussions on other relevant networks now that you have an idea of your real audience. Always give your network and business other avenues to expand your reach.

It takes time

No business can run a successful social media campaign if they are not really dedicated to commit resources and time on it. Most of the times, running a social media campaign requires a dedicated person devoted to monitoring all the relevant signals and responding to them accordingly. This should not be seen as a one time process, but rather ongoing.

Don’t overdo it

Some people and companies attempts to conquer too much on social media without the right idea and tools. This can be avoided by doing some research and knowing exactly which social media avenues you are going to pursue. Social media (Web 2.0) is an evolving and active platform. One way to ensure that your social media campaign is successful is by taking part in activities that doesn’t necessarily be of monetary advantage to your business. Once again, provide value before you start selling.

Everyone should be part of it

All of your company’s employees can be seen as valuable assets. When you are planning your social media strategy, involve them as well. This can help you spread the word about something your company is involved with.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Various social media channels is great for listening. You can find out exactly what your customers are after and what their concerns are. When one of your customers has something negative to say about your business, make a point to listen to their viewpoint. A good listener speaks less and listens more. This is one of the golden rules of the social media world.