Many of our clients tell us that they are ready to start social media marketing but after a fairly short conversation with them it quickly becomes clear that they need help in understanding just what that means.

The purpose of this post is to give you a helping hand:   How do you start?  Do you need a Twitter profile? How about a Facebook Fan Page? Or maybe a dedicated YouTube channel?

The answer is that even though all these are excellent social media channels, we recommend that you should never start any social media marketing campaign until you have created a social media marketing strategy plan first.  Simply creating social profiles without taking the time to plan your campaign first is usually ineffective.

A good starting point is for you as a business owner to take the time to establish what is already being said online about your company and your key staff.  What are your existing customers saying about you and your brand?  Are there any discussion threads online about your business?  What is being said about your key competitors online? – Which social channels are your competitors using?  What are the ‘live’ topics online about your business sector?

These and many other questions can be answered using one or more of the many Social Media monitoring tools available.  These tools will not only allow you to find out what is being said about you and your competitors they will also give you the opportunity to take an active part in the conversation!  If someone is complaining about your products or services it is far better to respond to that criticism positively and quickly.  By taking ownership of the issue you are demonstrating that your customers opinions are important to you, i.e. you are building your online reputation / credibility.  Also, by responding quickly to customer issues you are much more likely to convert an aggrieved customer into an ally, even an ambassador for your products and services.

The web offers many social networking sites and it is important that you have a system in place to track what is being said about your business.  Below we list some of the monitoring tools and social networking sites you can use to help:

Twitter – Twitter is vital in helping businesses to identify what is being said about them on this very popular micro-blogging service.  Twitter has a real time search engine which allows you to find quick updates.

HowSociable? – A simple, free, tool that enables you to measure the visibility of your brand on the web using a couple of metrics

Technorati – Technorati is perhaps one of the most effective options for tracking social media sites. Custom RSS (real simple syndication) feeds lets you find quick updates on any blog that utters your company name. – A very popular bookmark sharing site.  More people are sharing their bookmarks online. RSS feeds make it easy to track whenever someone bookmarks a web page that includes any mention of your company or brand.

Google Alerts – A must have!  Google Alerts enables you to track web, blogs, news and groups for any phrase you want. (And it is free!).

Trackur – Trackur monitors all the major search engines, not just Google

Brandwatch – This tool combines alerts with detailed data analysis.

BuzzMonitor – this is an open-source social media aggregator that you must host on your own web server.  Software downloads are free. The software was developed by The World Bank.

If you would like to know more about our Social Media Marketing services, please leave a comment below or visit GB Web Marketing – Internet Marketing Services in Surrey, Sussex and throughout the South East of England.


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