I bet you have a cell phone either in your pocket or within reach of you right now. Surprise! You're in good company- the research group Nielsen's latest Digital Consumer Report, released last month, estimates that 65 percent of all Americans owned a cell phone in 2013. Considering that number was at 44 percent in 2011, plus the fact that a jaw-dropping 29 percent of people have a tablet versus just 5 percent two years ago, this creates an unprecedented opportunity for reaching a far wider audience in the market today.
Mobile connectivity is undoubtedly destined to be a huge part of our future. Americans spent more time using mobile apps and browsers in 2013- 34 hours per month, versus the time they spent online with their PC's at 27 hours. The benefits of tapping into this amazing resource is becoming rapidly more integral with each passing year. Consider the impact- mobile marketing is instant, since people always have their devices with them, and information on your business or promotions in any format can be stored indefinitely for potential customers' future reference, with big potential to go viral with users so easily sharing content. Businesses can market directly to their target audience, and user response can be tracked almost instantaneously, with the added pluses of geo-location, mobile payment, and social media connectivity.
The state of mobile technology is constantly evolving. But don't let that scare you away, this is a good thing! Though the landscape of devices is dynamic and invariably developing, the end result is the same- users have information right at their fingertips, wherever they are, whenever they want. People want to find what they're looking for in the moment, immediately, without having to be home in front of their desktop. More and more people are relying on instant access to local businesses on the fly, and it's a speeding train you're likely not going to want to miss. Whether you create a mobile app for your company or just opt for the responsive website, get yourself a ticket on that train, and watch your audience swell and flourish.
Let's face it, folks- social media is here to stay. With a whopping 72% of internet users actively partaking in the social network buffet, it's clear that this platform has grown from a passing interest into an undeniable behemoth that the business world is taking very seriously. Mass understanding of the impact social media can have on businesses has created a boom of marketing efforts concentrated in this area, and one can clearly see that this trend of focus from business owners and marketers will continue steamrolling throughout 2014 and beyond.
There is a way to grab the bull by the horns here, and though it does take time and effort, it is a surefire way of injecting yourself and your business straight into the fast-flowing highway of this massive human collective. I'm going to detail point by point some steps that are necessary for you to begin, refine, and expand your Social Media Optimization (SMO) for the first week, month, and beyond.
First of all, as with most things, have a plan. Define clear goals for your social media campaign first- it should line up with your business purpose. What is your goal for this campaign? Whatever your plan may be, it should be reevaluated and updated routinely to stay on top of rapidly changing trends. Your plan should include a timeline- try to set deadlines for content release and be sure to post regularly to all platforms you choose to use. This will keep your followers thinking about you and makes them more apt to turn to your business first if a related matter arises, or refer you to others.
Small businesses face a lot of competition online, and it's important to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Find your niche- what makes you unique? The more memorable your content, the more interest it creates, and the more it is bound to get shared. This is where the work comes in. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, they all have different requirements and ways of engaging with the audience, but the work you put in to each will benefit your company hugely in the long run. Twitter should be concise and attention grabbing since you only have 140 characters, but Facebook allows longer descriptions and more content. Launch contests to engage your fans and followers. A great image will also draw more interest. Create YouTube vidoes-this is very useful for social media optimization. YouTube gets very high rankings in search engines, making it an extremely effective social marketing tool.
This is important- research your competition. Remember that your competitors are changing and improving all the time. They will be adjusting their approach and updating their campaigns in order to try to improve results. That is why your competitive analysis should be an ongoing process- it's not a "set it and forget it" situation. Nothing is with social media marketing- everything is in a constant state of flux, and it's important to be right there with it to keep your brand relevant. Things move fast today, and we need to as well.
Ask and answer questions in a blog and link to social media sites- find out what your customers want to know about and give them useful and compelling answers. If you are on top of this, you're guaranteed some shares and retweets. The key is to expand your audience outside of just your website- effective SEO tactics are hugely helpful, but can ultimately go only so far. Sometimes it's good old elbow-grease that nets you the exposure you're looking for.
Staying on top with Social Media Optimization may seem daunting with the amount of time investment, but in the end, tapping into this amazing resource of human connection boosts your businesses exposure to your industry, your customers, and the world. With enough initial work and a continued effort in adding new, fresh content, and sharing on social platforms that reach that 72% of internet users, a domino effect will begin. You'll be surprised at how far your brand travels.