Here we delve deeper into the intriguing world of social media marketing. Just what is the big deal with Facebook and Twitter, how is social media changing the business-customer relationship, and what does this mean for you?

Although it started out as a way to keep in touch Use Facebook to interract with your customerswith friends, share holiday snaps and nosy on other people’s lives, social networking has since become a powerful money-maker in business.

So what makes these sites so special?

People reveal a great deal about themselves online. Never before have businesses been allowed so close to their customers’ personal lives. Suddenly, it’s not about who can produce the brightest flyers, cold-call the most customers, or think up the catchiest slogans – people don’t tend to fall for that anymore. Social media marketing is all about getting to know the market, gaining a good reputation in online circles, building a unique voice and being a ‘friend’ to customers.

Experts believe the age of intrusive advertising (such as flyers, pop-ups and banners) is on its way out. Now that we live in the digital age people are more tuned in and media-savvy than ever. Customers want interaction and they want choice. They don’t want their web browsing interrupted by irritating adverts for services they have no intention of buying.

Facebook like

Businesses are starting to realise the way forward is to stop forcing their messages at customers, and start giving them a reason to come to them. Sites like Facebook and Twitter offer a space for business to share blogs, images, links and other interesting content to entice potential customers in. Information spreads like wildfire on the web and gaining attention can be as simple as posting a blog people want to read.

For the first time, customers can talk to the brands they buy into. They can publicly post questions, complaints and compliments, and in turn businesses can show the world how good they are at dealing with customers. We think it’s this new open dialogue that makes social media marketing so revolutionary – and so effective.

Start a conversation on Twitter

Of course, not all business owners are avid bloggers or social media moguls and the idea of entering into this strange world of ‘tweeting’, ‘liking’ and ‘pinning’ can seem a little daunting to a rookie.

Here we’ve compiled some very simple social media marketing tips for anyone hoping to improve their digital presence or boost their brand image through social networking:

1. Focus on one or two social media channels at first (at least until you’re in a position to employ a social media manager).

Check out this very useful infographic for some recent social media user statistics. By looking at demographics for each site you can work out which ones you need to target to reach your customers.

2. Post valuable content

While it’s fine to post the occasional promotional deal or offer, self-promotional spamming is an instant turn-off for visitors because it blocks up their feeds with unwanted material. You’re more likely to gain their trust and approval if you link them to an interesting article, or even better – post original content like a blog or image you’ve created yourself.

3. Start a conversation

While posting content is great, don’t just sit back and let the comments and replies roll in. Engage with your visitors, reply to their questions, offer your own opinion (if appropriate) and ask theirs. Asking questions is a great way to get people to take notice of you – you’ll soon realise just how much people love offering their own thoughts about things.

4. Go viral

Have you taken an interesting or amusing picture recently? Have you heard a funny joke, or found an inspirational quote? It’s these things people want to share with their friends on social media. Engaging with people’s emotions – whether humour, shock, empathy, or amazement is bound to get people talking and spreading news. If you can get people to repost your links then you’re opening up your doors to a whole store of potential new customers.

This is just a fragment of the advice out there but hopefully it’s given you somewhere to start. We urge you to give social media a go – it’s one of the best ways of getting to know your potential customers/clients and it’s your chance to show them what your brand or business is all about. Good luck!