social mediaThe stats, for once, don’t lie… Digital marketing giant eMarketer estimates that social media platforms boast over 1.73 billion users worldwide. A number that’s expected to climb to 2.55 billion by the year 2017. What’s more, according to a recent Nielson study, 46% of consumers turn to social media to help with purchasing decisions. This means that your prospects are most certainly out there, and they’re relying on the social aspect of the web more and more to help them decide who to do business with. So how can you tap into this incredible opportunity to gain more leads for your own business? Let’s take a look.

  • 93% of businesses are using at least one social media platform (Forbes)
  • 86% of SMEs state that social media is vital to their business (Social Media Today)
  • 43% of businesses state that their social media is ineffective due to poor knowledge of each platform (Harvard Business Review)
  • 46% of SMEs state that social media is their key marketing strategy (HBR)
  • 13% of businesses don’t use social media because they can’t find the right staff (HBR)
  • 54% of businesses acquired a client through social media in 2013 (Social Media Today)
  • 92% of companies that blogged and updated content every day acquired at least one customer per month (hubspot)
  • 53% of social media marketers don’t track their performance on social media
  • 72% of social media users are aged 25-49
  • Fastest growing demographic on social media is the 45-54 age range
  • Worldwide there are over 189 million Facebook users
  • Every second, 2 people join LinkedIn
  • Over 1 billion people now use some form of social media

Like all stats, you can take them two ways but what’s undeniable is that YOUR clients and potential clients use social media. This means you can REACH them there. The challenge, though, for the business owner is obvious… Wikipedia reports that there are 343 social networking sites but there are likely to be at least double or treble this amount. So how do you know which ones to focus on? This was our challenge over a year ago when we started testing social media. With so many sites to choose from, which ones work best? Not surprisingly, we’ve found the ‘BIG’ players to be the most successful in terms of engaging with and acquiring subscribers and members. You should only focus your time and energy on the following sites…

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube

windows)  and ultimately the your efforts. But it’s in respect to the ‘effort’ where social media has its big drawback. You see, the whole point of social media is being ‘current’ and ‘timely’. Posting once a month or once a week just isn’t enough. You have to do it daily (5 days a week), otherwise your social media won’t build. But that’s the challenge. Posting 5 times a week just isn’t easy. However, with careful planning you can do it. As I said earlier, for the last 12 months we’ve been testing what works with social media and what doesn’t. All this testing has enabled us to create a 5-stage plan we call ‘SWARM’. These are the 5 things you need to do to build a highly targeted fan base (clients and potential clients) which in turn will help you acquire more fees. You’ll see none of this is rocket science, but as with everything—you have to put the effort in to get the rewards…
Strategy: The first thing you need to do is think about your objectives. This will help you develop your social media strategy. Like everything I talk about in GMC, your objective needs to be hinged around retaining clients, increasing fees  from clients and acquiring new clients. Your social media objective is no different.
Winning Design & Set-Up: The next stage is to get your relevant pages in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ designed professionally. This is very important. It is key that you have a consistent ‘look and feel’ across your social media sites. DON’T DO THIS YOURSELF. Get a designer to come up with the designs—it should only cost you a few hundred pounds/dollars.
Accumulate: Now you know the objective of your social media and you’ve got your pages all looking great, you can start to build your fan base. This needs to be centred around existing clients AND prospective clients. Set yourself a goal to increase your fan base by X per week/month. For example, with Twitter you might set your target to follow 10 people each week—which in turn will get you between 7 and 9 followers yourself (most people will follow you back). This simple approach will result in a perpetual and ongoing increase in followers, likes and shares, etc.
Relationship: By posting on each of your social media sites 5 times a week, you’ll be encouraging your fan base to interact with you, which is the key to social media success. This constant activity will help your growing fan base…

  • To share your information
  • Refer you to friends
  • Write positive reviews
  • Provide recommendations
  • Increase engagement and interaction

Of course, this interaction means you’ll also need to reply and respond back, so factor in time each day to do that. As an important aside, we’ve noticed that adding images, diagrams and pictures to your content does make a big positive difference to your results, so search www.istockphoto.com for interesting images. You’ll also want to search and share relevant industry-specific news articles periodically and create questions and polls relevant to your business.
Measurement & Optimisation: As a subscriber of Express Lane, you know that it’s vital you measure everything you’re doing. It’s no different when it comes to your social media. You need to measure, analyse and manage every social media post and activity across the breadth of your social media sites. This is arguably the most time-intensive part of your social media plan, but it will give you the insights you need to keep building your ‘SWARM’ (fan base). For example, you need to analyse which posts get the most engagement, who are your main demographics, when your customers/potential buyers are logging on to their social media and how many times they have clicked onto your website, etc. Detailed analysis allows you to continually optimise your social media sites so they are performing to their maximum. Like I said earlier, none of this is difficult. It’s just time-consuming. But having a social media platform is now just too important to neglect. However, if you need any help getting your social media to really work for you, check out our new social media management service here…    

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