It is difficult to ignore the term “Social Media” now as it has grown substantially in recent years and with most individuals possessing a Facebook account for entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family it has equally become a very useful marketing tool for businesses.
Facts & Figures
Did you know that:
25% of online consumer time is spent on Social Media sites
Facebook is the most used Social Media site with the average user age 18-25 years and with 22% of users aged 26-34 years.
Twitter is second largest social media site with 500 million users worldwide, tweeting170 million tweets a day. 30% of twitter users are 26-34 years with 25% aged 35-44 years
So, what is so special about Social Media? It has created opportunities for practitioners to reach out to potential clients in a more direct marketing route, create new professional networks and build relationships with existing clients (should they wish to be public).
Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin are the more popular choice, however, there are numerous other social media networks and blogging sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+.
In my opinion. all CAM practitioners should take advantage of the different types of Social Media marketing opportunities because first and foremost they are FREE. Secondly, they can increase your brand awareness by directly reaching your target market and demographic. It is also a great way to increase traffic to your website and finally it gives a practitioner the chance to educate their audience (for those willing to listen) which may result in them using your services.
Everyone has their preferred type of Social Media platform, however, it is sensible to use several in connection with each other to produce a more powerful message. For example, if you can produce an educational video on an aspect of your work with You Tube, you can then tweet a link to the video on Twitter or post to Facebook. Your followers will then be able to “comment”, “like” or “re-tweet” to all of their followers which starts the viral nature that we so often see in the news with quirky stories or ultra-talented 6 year olds!
So the question is how does one get started? Well, firstly you need to decide what your goals are for using Social Media. Perhaps your targets are to increase your follower numbers, gain referrals through social media, direct more traffic through to your website, keep track of latest research and industry leaders in your field and what is being said.
Twitter allows you to post short updates or “tweets” of up to 140 characters and follow the updates of anyone that interests you.
You can target your tweets direct to your chosen market, for example. schools, gyms, corporate markets in your particular area of the country. This puts the word out about what you are doing in your practice which may lead to a build up a following in a certain territory/area.
You need to ensure that every tweet re-enforces your goal but you don’t want to look desperate so make sure you offer a variety of interesting facts, figures, pictures, links, videos, etc.
If you watch what other people in your industry “tweet” (the ones with lots of followers) try to model their technique as it takes some practice to fit all your information about your services into only 140 characters.
There are many tools within Twitter that can be used to target your audience
Putting a hashtag # before a word helps you to create a particular subject, news story, research or event that interests an audience. For example, during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. The topic #openingceremony was used. By posting a tweet with #openingceremony in it, your tweet would be seen under that topic group. If it was relevant to your business, the topic and interesting, other Tweeters would look at your profile and see who you are and perhaps they may even click on the link to your website, thus driving more traffic to your website.
Be careful though, as you do not want to annoy other tweeters with a blatant marketing post that has nothing to do with the topic. Equally, you need to gauge carefully how witty and entertaining you are as this can affect your business image.
Increase your followers
This can be done in a couple of ways but personally I think it is more about quality of followers rather than quantity.
You need to think about your area and search for people using the “Discover” tab. Type #Brighton to find tweets on the topic of Brighton. They will usually be other businesses in that area. If you want to gain referrals from a gym in Brighton, look out for a gym under #Brighton tweets by reading their profile. You can also go one further and see who follows the gym in Brighton as it may be some of their members in which case you can follow them too.
Who to follow or follow-back
Keep an eye on who follows you back. My rule of thumb is that if you follow someone and they do not follow you back then a week later you can unfollow them. Try and follow ten new people a week in order to keep on top of it.
If you want quantity then follow as many people as you like but make sure they are relevant to your target market. Some will follow back but not all. You can tell the avid tweeters by the number of tweets they have in their tweet trail.
Ideally what you are aiming for is a solid base of followers who are interested in what you have to say and want to share it with their followers.
Twitter is about relationship building and building some rapport with likeminded parties. If you have never interacted with them before it is best not to ask for re-tweets or referrals. Try to build up some dialogue with individuals first.
Beware of Direct Messages Hackers
Direct messages or DM’s are a great way to personalise a message solely to a particular follower. Only they can see it. However, anyone sending a message to you suggesting that someone is saying something bad about you and inviting you to click on a link is more than likely to be an attempt to hack into your account.
If the message looks a little odd, do not click the link.
Most importantly – Think before you post
Think before you post and ask yourself these questions.
- Does it re-enforce my business goals?
- Is it interesting or relevant?
- Am I violating client confidentiality?
Remember: anything that you post remains on the Internet forever and can be easily shared with others.
I hope this brief explanation of using Twitter as a marketing tool for your business is useful and for those of you who would like to see an example of how it is done. Go to www.twitter.com/LifePracticeUK