Marketing via social media
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:57 AM
By now, most folks who use Facebook have also discovered that it can be a pretty valuable - and inexpensive asset - when it comes to marketing a business or product. Most social media users say they especially like the avenues it affords for building customer relationships.
As one example, Mike and Bobbi Wade have harnessed Facebook for their agritourism business. The Wades operate Blue Sky Sage (www.blueskysage.com), which offers horseback riding adventure vacations near Big Piney, Wyo. Bobbi created their Facebook account in early 2010 and began to post frequent comments about the weather, scenery, ranch life and their travel to outfitter expos.
Bobbi says she likes Facebook because it offers relationship-building with past and potential customers. "I don't think Facebook can be used in lieu of a websites. I think websites are still important, but I do see how the two can complement each other," she says.
She adds, "Facebook allows you to be a bit more personal, more conversational, and show that you are a real person" - all factors that she says are important for any business, but particularly when you are in the tourism business.
Bobbi aims to post content weekly, and her rule of thumb is to keep the information she posts positive and largely business related.
Last winter, she began running ads via Facebook and has been pleased with the uptick in traffic it has generated. She explains that Facebook allows you to set your target demographic (age, region, etc.) as well as an advertising budget, and she has seen several click-throughs to their Blue Sky Sage website as a result.
Bobbi concludes, "No matter what business you are in, marketing is so important to get your product in front of people. Facebook is one more method to do that."
Tips To Use
Kim Sears, a marketing and public relations specialist with the Wyoming Business Council, encourages businesses - from cattle operations and direct beef businesses to agtourism entities - to consider some form of social media marketing because of the opportunity it allows to create relationships with customers.
"Through photos, videos or short stories of your daily activities you can create a visual experience for your customer. You can really tell your story, and that adds validity to your business," Sears says.
Moreover, the Internet opens your customer base to the entire globe - and current or potential customers can provide feedback that you can respond to. "It allows for interaction," Sears points out.
That said, what are some guidelines for integrating social media into your marketing efforts?
1. Don't abandon your traditional marketing efforts. "Social media is just one more piece to enhance and improve your marketing," says Sears. Keep in mind that effective marketing means knowing who your customers are, and how they get their information. In this day and age, that likely means continuing to do some traditional and some social marketing.
2. Don't forget to listen to customers. While the Internet can help make communication more frequent, there is still no substitute for personal, one-on-one discussions. Don't abandon them.
3. No matter what form of communication you are using, make sure your contact info is always present, so that people can contact a live person if they so desire. And, make certain that your print promotions list your web presences and that your web efforts drive traffic from one format to another (i.e. Website to Facebook and Twitter and vice versa.)