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When we work with clients on websites the subject of social media often comes up. Most website owners have the obligatory accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), sometimes a few more. Seldom are they using them (much), and usually they don’t know how or when to utilize them best (or even why they should).

Today we’re going to talk about when and why you should be using social media for business.

Why Use Social Media for Business Websites?

A lot of our insight comes from the face that we manage social media accounts not only for our own business – but for client websites as well. Social media is sometimes largely misunderstood, because it began as a way for people to connect to friends and family and “grew into” being useful for business later on.

Connections to People: One of the greatest reasons to use social media for a business website is because it’s the easiest way to connect to people that are relevant to your business (and their friends, and their families). Facebook receives more pageviews per day now than Google, and connecting with people where conversations and emotional connections are going on is an easier way to find leads and sales that traditional search will ever be.

Google Tracks Social Media: Out of the nearly 200 “ranking factors” Google uses to determine where you fall in website results – your usage of and visibility in social media can impact your organic search rankings as much as 30%. The new Google analytics interface now has social media tracking and indicators.

One of the main reasons that Google is interested in your social media participation (and how people are responding to yoru website in social areas) is to prove your real. SEO experts and spammers have been trying to “game the search engine” for years for good rankings, but trying to “fake it” in social media isn’t quite that easy. Google figures if all you have is a bunch of spammy low-quality links (and nothing in social media) – your website is probably a big spammy as well (and not deserving of decent rankings for keywords).

When to Use Social Media for Business Website?

When and how to use social media can be different for any business or website. Some might use certain channels more often than others – it really boils down to who you need to connect with. It’s probably easier if we give an example of a ficticious client:

Client: Company ABC
Market: Manufacturing
Website Content: Products and Whitepapers, Sales and Support

Let’s say “Company ABC” has a website with 2 distinct sections. One is products and whitepapers, targeting higher level management “decision makers” within the company. This would be middle management through executives, the type of people that would receive a sales presentation or at a conference for their market.

The other segment are the field technicians that actually use the products the “decision makers” buy. They mainly visit the product manuals, forums, and support sections of the website.

As it pertains to social media, “Company ABC” should think about how to target their segments in social media.

For example:

Facebook: while the company Facebook “page” is there for people to “like”, the real usage here is targeting field techs that use the product and connecting with them in the field. Using the Facebook ad platform you can drill right down to actual companies and job roles for targeting.

Twitter: following the latest buzz words from the trade journals, you can often find the “decision makers” using Twitter to connect with companies in their market.

LinkedIn: a great way to research, connect with, and communicate with other companies (with a premium account).

YouTube: both sales and support videos can be uploaded to handle either segment

Flickr: product images can be uploaded to target specific portions of the website for sales pitches

What you don’t want to do is use social media as a regurgitation platform for your press releases, product announcements and “news”.

Social media is meant to “engage people”. As a business your job is to engage people, and then make an emotional connection with someone who is looking for information (that you can provide). Once you provide that information, you build your brand loyalty with that person, making sales in the future much more possible.

The last thing you want to do in social media is constantly be selling. Nobody wants to feel like they are being pestered, and those that feel you are pushy (in social media) can actually come away with a negative feeling about your business or brand.

As a business website owner, think of social media as nothing more than “networking” – it’s just online instead of face to face.

We provide social media management for small to medium sized business, and corporations. How can we help your company?