What Is Social Media?

Overhead shot of people seated around white table with hands extended toward social media symbolsAnd what is it not?

By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook

Successful social media marketing requires a deep understanding in how consumers and businesses use each of the major social networking platforms.

Each platform provides different functionality and limitations. Understanding effective tactics to maximize the potential each platform holds is essential in the effective implementation of your social media marketing strategy. The current, most important social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Plus and Pinterest.

You need to:

  • decide which platforms are most important for your business to focus on depending on your target market;
  • understanding the basic functionality, restrictions, as well as recommended tactics for each site; and
  • use best practices for maximizing the marketing potential of each platform through examining case studies.

Is your firm set up for social marketing?

Take five minutes to complete the checklist below to make sure you’ve covered all the initial basics before getting started with social media marketing in your business.

The more items you check, the better prepared you are.

  • Does my firm have clear goals for social marketing? Be specific and keep the objectives in mind when developing initiatives for your firm. It’s important to understand the firm’s brand, its marketing methodology and how the staff will execute the initiatives to meet goals and to measure metrics.
  • We have the human resources to commit to social marketing. Before you begin, know this is a commitment, something that has to be managed, executed, tracked and measured. It’s about real-time response in some instances, and requires frequent if not constant updates.
  • We produce quality content that will sustain our social conversations. Content is what the social media platforms are all about. Review the content you may have. Identify what you can use in the “now” and what may become repurposed content that may be used over and over. Put a plan in place to produce content, like blogs, video, checklist, how-to’s, graphics and more.
  • We know which social media sites are popular with our target market. You must know this before you begin or you’ll be wasting precious time, energy and resources trying to figure it out. Spend the time up front to identify the social platforms where your “people” spend time.
  • Our website is prepared for social and mobile interaction. Make sure your website is ready for the social media attention it will soon get. Consider the experience of using social media to land on a site that forces me to search for the content I seek. Users will not appreciate that.
  • We are ready to leverage social media marketing in our buying process. Social media is not just about the top of the sales funnel. It may be incorporated into all levels, right down to the sale/conversion.
  • We are committed to using social media in our marketing efforts. No matter what type of campaign you may be running, be sure to include social sharing and encourage relationship building.

How to choose?

What social media platform is best suited to your firm? Choosing a platform is more than shooting a dart at a board or picking something based on a trend. A lot of thought must go into which platform you choose, why and when you begin to mix in others to support your efforts.

I recommend that you choose one social media platform to begin with, do it well and then move on to other platforms. If you choose to take on too much, you may begin to feel spread too thin and get frustrated when things don’t work. In some cases, you may spend too much time “doing social,” rather than focusing on growing the bottom line.

In addition to top social media sites, there are other social sharing sites that are great for firms, including:

  • Vimeo and Vine (video)
  • Slideshare (presentation and document sharing sites)
  • Instagram and SnapChat (photo and image share)
  • BuzzFeed, Tumblr, Reddit (Q&A sites)

And methods:

  • Blogging
  • Commenting
  • Bookmarking
  • Podcasting

Social media is not meant to be a silver bullet. It’s meant as a tool to increase brand awareness, to offer steps to lead generation and to support your other online and marketing efforts.

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