Basics of Marketing and Considerations for Social Media Communication

| October 29, 2009 | 0 Comments

Small business owners can easily fall into the trap of marketing their company using free social media websites. With social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn, you can create a free account, but free doesn’t always mean the account is right for your business. Be prepared to make a considerable time commitment to social media marketing. Before you create social media profiles for your small business, read the following basic principles of marketing. Next, decide whether the time commitment of updating social media profiles matches your business goals.

Five Basics of Marketing

  1. The Brand – The small business uses marketing and advertising communication formats to create a brand in the target market. If your business is local, your target market includes people who live and work in your area who might be interested in purchasing your products or services. Networking with people on the Internet expands your potential target market to a global audience.
  2. Person-to-Person Marketing – You and your employees affect the brand of your company through daily interaction with customers. Focusing on customer service strategies helps to ensure that your employees use sound person-to-person marketing to create positive messages. All communication should improve the company brand in the target market.
  3. Advertising vs. Marketing – Advertising is when you pay money for advertising your company (i.e. buying a quarter-page advertisement in the local telephone directory). Marketing is using promotional items and messages (i.e. press releases, email newsletters, and signs) to promote the brand of your company.
  4. Planning – Small business owners should understand that many aspects of the business affect the brand of the company in the target market. The small business owner may not be aware of all ways that the company sends messages to the public. Planning a marketing strategy ensures that the small business owner considers the impact of messages sent to customers through communication vehicles. In addition to press releases, email newsletters, and signs, there are other vehicles, including company promotions, employee uniforms, business cards, vehicle advertising, and Internet communication.
  5. Value – Marketing creates value in the minds of consumers in the target market. Tracy L. Tuten (2008), author of Advertising 2.0: Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World, explains: “Organizations rely upon strategically developed marketing mixes to ensure a strong value proposition for customers, meaning that the organization can offer a product the customer wants, at a price the customer perceives as reasonable, delivered at the right place and the right time.

An established business owner has a lot to think about before developing an online presence through social media websites. Building a brand is a complex process that requires marketing insights and considerable effort.

The Time Commitment

Small business owners may recognize that using free social media removes the barrier of cost for marketing the small business. However, small business owners may not give adequate consideration to the implications of creating social media profiles for communication with the public. The decision to create a profile on a site like Twitter or MySpace should occur after studying the nature of social media and how long it might take for the benefits of social media marketing to be realized. Here are five factors to consider.

  1. Choose the right social media website for the company’s marketing plan. Decide if each social media website will deliver valuable marketing messages to the minds of potential customers. Time will be spent using each site for marketing, including creating and developing a social profile for the company, communicating with customers, and updating the profile page with periodic updates about the company.
  2. Choose how many social profiles the company can easily maintain. Once you get past the allure of free social profiles, you spend a lot of time networking. For example, it takes time to read and to respond to contacts from potential customers on applications like Facebook and MySpace.
  3. Consider the required manpower for customer communication. New customer contacts begin with the social media presence of your company. People who find your company on a social media website may become real customers who call, email, write, or visit in person. They need individualized attention like all other customers. Will your staff be able to meet their needs?
  4. Remember the blog is a social media tool that requires a steady stream of fresh content. It takes time to update a blog every day or two with new information. Each message you send through the blog is a marketing message for the target audience. Online users can use the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feature of many social media websites to subscribe to your blog posts. If web users subscribe, they will get regular updates from your blog on their own blog, website, or email account.
  5. Consider the possibility of delegating social media communication to a trusted staff member. An employee with marketing savvy and strong communication skills can manage the social profiles of your small business. However, decide if the time your employee spends on social media networking fits your business strategy. If you won’t generate new customers or higher sales from the labor hours an employee spends on social networking, your payroll allocation for this task might be better invested in another marketing strategy.

You need to make an informed decision about the potential benefits of marketing your small business using the free tools of social media websites like LinkedIn and Twitter. All messages created by your company must positively reinforce the brand you have created through traditional marketing strategies. The time your staff spends on social networking also impacts your decision.

Don’t create social media profiles for your small business just because you can get a free account. Fit social media marketing into a marketing plan (free template) where it makes good business sense. Your target audience should receive positive messages about your company. Will your brand successfully use social media networking to give customers something to believe in?

Category: How to Make Money Online

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