When it comes to digital marketing, not enough can be said about the importance of social proof. Building an online reputation can take some time, but when done right it can be invaluable to your business.
Studies show that 75% of people who are ready to make a purchase online are more likely to trust what their social media friends have to say about a product or service, and 90% trust reviews from random customers posted on review sites. Reviews on the web play a big part in influencing the decisions of B2B purchases too; of those, 50% search online for information about those they plan to do business with.
Hospitality industry companies all over the world are increasingly using social media listening tools to engage or listen in on conversations where people are seeking to buy what they are selling. For example, Ski.com’s marketing director Dan Sherman scored a $70,000 booking from a Facebook referral.
Most companies intuitively understand the power of social proof, and know they need to get active in social media as part of their overall marketing strategy, but many just don’t know where to begin.
In this 2nd installation of my 5 part series, Online Marketing in 5 Easy Steps, I will help you blueprint your social media strategy in order to gain that online reputation you need to succeed.
Basic set up for Social Media
You are going to need to set up all of your social media memberships and pages. To do that you will need an email address. I have found it best to use a Gmail account for this purpose, considering that Google seems to have their fingers in
most pies these days, and those they don’t they have their eye on. A good case in point is YouTube.
When Google acquired YouTube in 2006 people soon discovered that their user profiles were linked. The same goes today for Google +, Google Apps, Google Authorship, Blogger (formerly Blogspot) Picasa and, of course, your Webmaster tools for your website.
My second reason for going Google with your email account is security. One email account for everything will help to ensure that you won’t lose access to any of your social media channels because you can always go back to that original Gmail account to reset should you ever forget a password or say goodbye to a marketing or social media manager.
One by one, you will then need to use this general Gmail account to set up each of your social media pages, channels and accounts.
Start with the Basics
Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and YouTube are an absolute must, and by all means don’t forget to blog! Most people don’t think about social media and blogging in the same arena, but blogging is absolutely a social affair and can potentially be a huge source of social interaction, social proof, and link building for your site.
After that, companies may want to get industry specific when it comes to deciding which social channels will best serve. For example, tech companies might want to have a Dribble account; e-commerce sites, or any product or service that has visual appeal, would probably be well served by Pinterest. Travel industry companies such as hotels, resorts, vacation property rental companies, restaurants, tour operators and attractions absolutely must have a TripAdvisor account. Other travel specific social media sites that are great for blogging, or creating a presence for your brand, are TravellersPoint with over 600,000 members worldwide, WAYN (Where Are You Now) which boasts over 22 million members around the globe, and IgoUgo a site sponsored by Travelocity, with over a half a million members worldwide.
Create a plan and stick to it
Just like your marketing plan, your social media efforts will need some guidelines and protocol. Sit down and document your plan for your editorial efforts, posting, management and public relations protocols. Then stick to these basic best practices:
- Be conscious and conscientious
Pay attention to the conversations that are going on across the web that relate to your industry. Social success is equally dependent upon listening as it is on publishing.
- Target your niche
A focused brand is far more effective than one that is all over the place. Define your niche and concentrate the majority of your social media efforts on conversations and content that are related.
- Authenticity is key
No one wants to socialize with a corporate robot. If your content and conversations read like a promotional brochure people are going to get tired of listening. Do give your fans and followers what they expect from your brand, but be real and socialize in a human way; engage and interact just as you would during any other social exchange. Social media experts have been talking about the 80/20 rule when it comes to self-promotion for years, and that advice is still relevant today.
- Add Value to the conversation
Your audience will fail to see any point in engaging with you, or sharing your content with others, if you have nothing of relevance or value to offer.
- Be Trustworthy
Be transparent and deliver on your promise; avoid over promising and under-delivering, and admit it when you make a mistake, apologize when you get something wrong and make it right when you can. When you are honorable in business as well as in life, your integrity will precede you and your reputation will reflect that.
- Be present and engaged
Building a reputation and maintaining it online depends on the amount of time you spend being involved and being reciprocal. You can’t go to a party and stand in the corner not talking to anyone; being social means being engaged and interacting with others. Reach out, support others, engage in conversation and give as much as you get.
Lynette Garet is a copywriter with over 20 years of experience and proficiency in traditional marketing, digital marketing, copy writing, editing, optimized content creation, SEO, project management, voice-over work, narration, script writing, and production.
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