Social Media is information that is disseminated via online social interaction. It’s about sharing information, it is enormous and growing fast. A case study can explain this far better; I have a friend Matt, who is passionate about travel, he’s a travel agent by profession and he is quickly understanding the value of social media and how the right combination of information and promotion brings him in touch with over 6000 people that he might never have reached using traditional online and offline media. So how does that translate into money in the bank?

It doesn’t, well not directly. The Facebook page, I SO need a holiday does more than create referrals, it builds social capital which is (in this case) the creation and building of presence and credibility throughout people on Facebook who oddly, like holidays. Because of the quirky title, the sheer number of people who identify with the sentiment and the appropriateness of the content all combined to lead people to join up and then refer the page to their contacts and so-on.

So just how did Matt get from 0 to 6,630 fans in less than 5 months?

The answer is consistency. He began with sharing some of his own holiday pics and sent a message to all of his personal facebook buddies asking them to join up. They did, then those facebookers were given the opportunity to invite their friends and so on. It’s not all organic growth though. Matt also did a little paid advertising on facebook with a very low budget and added a few links from his website.

While it sounds simple the key that made it all possible was that he kept it relevant. There are a few sponsored posts (which were appropriate to the subject area) but he knew what people looking for a holiday wanted to see. No price lists, no gratuitous links to his website. All posts speak to the main message of the page rather than a business or advertising purpose.

Obviously Facebook isn’t the only social media vehicle out there. Actually, the possibilities are almost limitless. Blogs, forums, chats, photo audio and video sharing, anything that allows you to leave a comment, games, social bookmarking and many more. Wikipedia has a good list if you are interested. This is not about converting leads to sales, it’s about establishing a community from which customers can develop.

The process of setting up a single social media page is fairly straight forward all you have to do is forget that you are trying to sell something and concentrate on the aspects likely to entertain, inform, intrigue or otherwise engage people in your target demographic. If you really want to integrate it into your internet marketing strategy then you need to develop a plan, initiate the processes (fan pages, video streams, podcasts or twitterings (to name a few)), keep it relevant and commit to regular updates and active monitoring to measure exactly what works.

The first part of the statement above is easy and not particularly time consuming. The second part where it becomes a strategic business tool can be incredibly complex and time consuming.

If you think that this type of strategy might help your business then contact us for a chat.

And this is just part one of building and leveraging social capital effectively for business growth.

Part 2: Email Marketing without being accused of spamming
Part 3: Now that I have customers how to support them (FAQ, WIKI, Self Serve Support, Paid Support)