• FirefoxInstall the new Firefox »
  • grow 

    7 Steps for Improving Your Brand Through Social Media

    By Tyler Arnold | Yahoo Small Business

    Social Media BrandingSocial media is a powerful (and inexpensive) marketing tool for growing businesses. However, if you misuse it, it can also become hazardous to your company's health. Take these seven steps to harness the power of social media and propel your brand into the upper levels of success.

    1. Create objectives for social media use.

    Many brands use social media the same way their customers do: they post without any particular purpose and simply hope that people respond.

    You wouldn't rely on random action in any other aspect of your business; so don't do it when it comes to social media use. Instead, set goals for your social media marketing campaign. Some common social media objectives include:

    • Lead generation
    • Greater brand awareness
    • Reputation management
    • Service and support

    Setting your goals will ensure that you use social media productively. Choose one or two of these objectives to focus on in your campaigns. SocialStrategyBuilder.com is a free tool that can help you lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

    2. Find out where your target audience spends its time.

    If your target audience is not on Facebook, focusing most of your energy there is a waste of time.

    The easiest way to find out where your target audience lives online is to ask. Offer current customers an incentive such as a gift card or sweepstakes entry if they fill out a survey. Then, decide which site to focus on based on the results.

    3. Post regularly, but don't spam.

    Social media doesn't work like print advertising. If you keep posting ads, the only thing you accomplish is annoying your customers. Instead, offer facts, post links to articles by others, and ask questions related to your industry. Keep advertorial content limited to 10 percent or less of your posts.

    4. Be personal.

    Add a personal touch to your posts to make them more relatable. For example, say things like, "We found these tips helpful when our toddler's behavior frustrated us. Add your own!" rather than, "How to stop your toddler's meltdown from stressing you out."

    5. Monitor social media mentions.

    Negative feedback on social media can quickly escalate into an all-out assault on your reputation. Don't let this happen. Use Google Alerts and other monitoring tools to keep on top of what people are saying about your business, your products and your employees.

    6. Respond to complaints ASAP.

    Disgruntled customers on social media want instant responses. You should respond to all customer comments within 24 hours; complaints get top priority. If you respond immediately, you stop problems from going viral and demonstrate your commitment to customers.

    7. Use mistakes to your advantage.

    Hopefully you won't accidentally post personal statuses or make other big missteps. If you do, publicly apologize, make things right and use the mistake to enhance your brand's reputation -- instead of destroying it.

    Social media marketing is essential to business success. Use these tips to help you harness all of social media's power to help your business succeed.

    Tyler Arnold is Co-Founder and CEO of SimplySocial Inc., a software tool that helps companies and agencies create great content for their social media profiles. As CEO, Tyler assists with key accounts, business development, and talent acquisitions as SimplySocial grows its presence around the world.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

    Yahoo Small Business Services