With the arrival of social media, the Web world has changed dramatically. Before applications like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter arrived, most people used the Web for shopping, playing games and digging up information. Now, everyone from grandparents to tweens is online and posting to their favorite social media sites, and businesses are trying to figure out how to reach them.
Unfortunately, there’s tons of misinformation and bad advice out there (believe us, because we’ve sifted through lots of it). So, if you’re considering diving into social media to market your wedding planner business, or if you’re already using it to some extent, here are five things you should know.
1. Social media may not be for you
If you don’t like small talk or chit-chat, then you probably also won’t like communicating via social media. Unlike longer format platforms like blogging, social media requires posting lots of short updates, tidbits, tips, ideas, links, pictures and images. In addition, to gain a following you need to be regular and consistent about posting. If this sounds like chore to you, then you may want to consider another marketing tactic, because being an occasional social media marketer is really a waste of your time.
An alternative: Have an employee or someone you know who likes to use social media post updates to your Facebook page or Twitter account. This involves a certain level of trust, so make sure the person speaking for your company will represent you appropriately.
2. Social media may – or may not – be an ideal fit for your type of business
Social media marketing is dramatically different from “normal” marketing. With social media, hyping your product or spamming people with promotional messages will, at best, get you ignored and, at worst, will get you kicked out of the community. Instead, your objective is to create a following around your posts and content, hoping that your followers and online friends will eventually need your services or refer someone who does.
The assumption here is that your audience uses social media and is willing to engage with you, neither of which is a guarantee. Luckily for most wedding planners, 20 to 35 year olds are some of the biggest users of social media. But many of them also believe everything online should be free, making it more difficult to market a premium service like wedding planning. Herein lies the challenge.
An option: Offer a free guide or white paper to potential clients for liking your Facebook page or following you on Twitter, providing them with enough useful information to establish yourself as an expert and to make them want more. To do this, you can create a Facebook reveal page (for an example, see the My Wedding Workbook Pro Facebook page; we used IFrameEngine’s free tool to set up our Facebook page) or a free service like Pay With a Tweet .
3. You don’t need thousands of followers … just a few influential ones.
The great thing about social media is that it doesn’t always matter how many people follow and like you; instead, what matters is the number of connections of the people you know.
So rather than trying to follow everybody who looks like a prospect or a referral partner, look around at who in your industry or in your local target audience already has a large following, then start a relationship with them via social media. Retweet their tweets, comment on their Facebook posts. Once you have them as an online friend, their community opens up to you.
Note: No matter what you hear, going viral is a crapshoot. There’s a word for videos, pictures and articles that go viral, and that word is “luck.” No matter how much effort you put into something, there’s no guarantee it will go viral, so instead of trying to create something that hits the lottery and gets 3 million views, create content that will be treasured by your target market and that they will share with their friends.
4. You need to be strategic in your approach
Posting on Twitter or Facebook about your daily life isn’t marketing, because your target market doesn’t care about you picking up a cake at a bakery.
Here’s the odd thing about marketing on social media. Ordinarily, the social media experience is a “me” centered experience, in that it’s all about the individual saying their peace and having their friends react to their content. But when it comes to marketing via social media, it’s a “them” centered experience, meaning that your content should be focused on your friends’ and followers’ needs and desires, not yours.
By being strategic, you need to focus on the content that would be interesting to your prospects. Think tips, ideas, techniques, inspirational photos and videos, special offers, timesavers, relevant industry/local news, events, etc.
Also, being strategic includes the tone you will be using in your communications. A personal, friendly tone usually goes a long ways, but some people like to be more humorous, edgy or in-your-face. The tone you choose really depends on your personality and the way in which your audience wants to be addressed, so keep these things in mind when writing your posts.
5. You should automate the process
For most of us, we have a thousand other things we could be doing other than posting to social media platforms. Granted, some people like using social media more than others, but if you are going to use it to market your business, you need to do it on a daily basis (yes, I said daily). If that sounds imposing to you, fear not, because there are some great tools out there that let you automate the process.
Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Su.pr and Later Bro let you schedule tweets and Facebook updates for down the road. What we do at My Wedding Workbook Pro is come up with interesting posts for the next 30 days and schedule these into Hootsuite (it’s our Twitter and Facebook app of choice), and then let it run. In the meantime, we also make additional updates or tweets if we have something we want to share with our online friends. Automating the process can save you tons of time while still maintaining a daily presence in the social media.
Best of luck, and remember that social media should just be another tool in your marketing toolbelt … and another tool in your business arsenal along with wedding planning software 😉
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