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Social media: do you know what you’re saying?

Whether it’s a Facebook page or Twitter feed, a collection of promotional videos on YouTube or a company profile on LinkedIn, businesses everywhere are using social media channels in an attempt to spread their message.

But why?

Why indeed. If you don’t have a clear purpose for using social media for your business, you could do more harm than good. It can be a powerful tool but, used incautiously, it can damage your brand rather than strengthen it.

It’s not enough to say “Everyone else is on Facebook or Twitter, so I should be too.” You need to know what you hope to achieve, who you’re reaching out to, which channels those people are likely to be watching and what action you want them to take when they read your updates. And you need to remember that this is your business talking, not you and what you had for dinner last night, or what you got up to at the weekend.

In short, you need to have a social media strategy, just as you would for any other part of your business. And it should form part of your overall marketing strategy.

Gone are the days when social media was viewed as a discrete entity. It’s now widely acknowledged that social media is, instead, an intrinsic element of the marketing mix, whether it’s used as a means of bringing traffic to your website or to develop your reputation as an expert in your field.

Both of which are completely acceptable reasons for going social. On the other hand, setting up a profile on every available social platform and then leaving them idle for months on end, is not so clever. For all anyone knows, you might have ceased trading altogether.

But if you have time to invest in social media, worthwhile things to say about your business and your products and a real desire to nurture your stakeholder relationships, social media can be your best friend.

You just need to remember why you’re doing it.

Think about what you want to achieve. Who you want to reach out to. Which channels those people are likely to be watching. And what action you want them to take when they read your updates.

And set yourself some goals so that you can measure your success, such as numbers of followers, how much your audience interacts with you and each other, and how much of your website traffic comes directly from your social platforms.

Like everything else in business, sufficient planning will help you steer the right path through the minefield of social media. And as long as you talk with – rather than to – your chosen audience, you should be fine.

Join in our conversations online – please ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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