Social Media Marketing  ?Qu? es Social Media Marketing ?Social media is a complex puzzle. If used creatively and prudently it can help build your brand, engage your customers, and generate sales for your small business ‘all for very little cost?’ If employed recklessly or haphazardly, it can turn your company into a joke, or worse, a target.

For examples of Social Media campaigns at their best, review the winners of The Web Marketing Association 2013 Internet Advertising Competition. Also take a look at Social Media Today’s The Best Social Media Campaigns by Brands. Most of these campaigns are for the B2C market. But if your small business markets to other businesses, The 5 Best B2B Social Media Campaigns, agency is a useful read.

Social Media at its worst is not only instructive but also entertaining. For example, this post details some historic failures. And this Social Media Today post details unfortunate social media campaigns from both celebrities and large corporations including the purportedly independent “Wal-Marting across America” blog which turned out to be sponsored by the company, and the McDonald’s #McDstories hashtag, which was supposed to encourage people to talk about their happy McDonald’s memories but instead ended up generating a litany of horror stories and gripes.

Another post from UK-based The Telegraph details the Five biggest social media blunders of 2013 including an unfortunate tweet from grocery giant Tesco, during the scandal involving horsemeat in its hamburgers, in which they wrote “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay.”

To stay up-to-date on the best and worst of Social Media, put the Beyond Social Media podcast on your weekly schedule. They begin each show with a best and worst of social media segment that provides commentary on some of the week’s biggest successes and failures. (Note: You can expand the About section for each episode to see the topics discussed and click to go directly to a point of interest.)

So, how can you emulate the best and avoid the worst for your small business social media campaigns? Common sense is always a good idea. Also, be sure to consider your posts from all viewpoints, as well as how they might appear out of context. A recent HubSpot post, 10 Social Media Blunders Big Brands Make (And How to Avoid Them), is a great place to start. It highlights common mistakes and provides tips for optimizing your use of social media in a number of areas including the proper formatting of Tweets for the best exposure, overuse of hashtags, how to effectively utilize Google + Circles, creating effective Pinterest Pin Boards, posting on LinkedIn, and more. Also helpful is the CIO post providing advice from a panel of social media experts, 15 Big Social Media Mistakes Companies Make and How to Avoid Them.

If your employees are active in social media, either personally or as part of their job, it is important to have a social media policy that provides guidance on acceptable behavior. While you want to encourage employee enthusiasm about your business, you also want to make sure that you are presenting a cohesive and professional image. A recent Yahoo Small Business Advisor post provides tips on creating a small business social media policy. To review what the big corporations are doing for social media policies, read 5 Great Corporate Social Media Policy Examples.

Of course, making sure that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot is only the beginning of a successful social media marketing program. You also need to be able to consistently deliver great content, track your traffic, and most importantly track the revenue your activities generate. Luckily, there is a tool or an App for just about every social media need. 46 Experts Share Their Top Social Media Management Tools provides overviews of, and links to, a wide variety of them, and will help you find the ones ideal for your business.

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Image Credit: Social Media Marketing ?Qu? es Social Media Marketing ? by MSEO FabianMedina, on Flickr

Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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