Welcome back readers, to the second installment of our Social Media blog! By now you probably have your social media going (if you didn’t already), and as promised, we are diving into the deep end of social media marketing and looking at how to turn those followers into buyers.

But first, let’s recap what we covered in part one of this social media blog.

Social Media is your new networking tool, really its networking on steroids. With technology fully integrated into nearly every aspect of our lives, customers are able to access information about products and services instantly.

This easy access to information is an opportunity for your business to build its brand by developing relationships and networks through online engagement. Remember, social media marketing isn’t about making a sale, its about taking the conversation to the customer and including them in your process, culture, and business so when they are looking for products and/or services you are the company they turn to!

So how should you go about building that following? Well, a good way to start is by creating a plan or a calendar – maybe you have a theme in mind for each quarter and/or each department.

What does this look like for your company? Tasking each department with their own social media can be very effective at building a strong connection and relationship with your target market.

By creating a social media plan you will be thinking more long term, building a frame work that can (and should) be flushed out by the grassroots aspect of your company’s social media. Having a plan or framework will give your team direction on what they can be posting - adding to the organic conversation that you want to build.

Within your plan, decide what your posts are going to look like. Will you be writing a blog? If so, how often and what are the important topics that should be covered?

Use this framework and conduct research, find articles and other social media posts that you think your following would find of interest. Utilize your posts, tweets, and blogs to add depth to your social media presence. Create Instagram memes, images, and quotes. Remember to involve your team!

You may find the richest material from the most unlikely of sources! But most importantly, ASK YOUR AUDIENCE QUESTIONS. In today’s market, knowledge and answers are at everyone’s finger tips. You want to be part of those answers and knowledge, and adding to that knowledge base is not only how you promote your business/industry, but it’s how you establish yourself as a leader.

Remember, first and foremost social media is about keeping it real. Every blog, post tweet, or image is about creating a stronger connection and relationship with your target market.

One of the best ways to ‘keep it real’ is to involve your people!

Yes, it can be difficult to decide who and what to involve, but your consumer is curious about all aspects of your business. Grassroots campaigns from within organizations can be very powerful, because your people have unique firsthand experience and insight that often speaks directly to your customers. Certain industries have grown rapidly in the past few years largely thanks to grassroots approach to social media!

The exposure from participating in certain twitter campaigns have been huge for many companies. For example: #womenofharvest15 was a simple twitter hashtag created to promote women in agriculture. This BLEW UP! It received support and recognition across the world. News and media outlets quickly jumped on the trending hashtag which created great exposure for those participating! Exposure like this is something all companies want and need and in this particular case it originated from within, an employee who was also a farmer, a mother, a wife who was simply looking to promote women working in her field.

But you’re thinking, how do you protect yourself and your company from potential rouge or inappropriate social media activity by employees? Simple – all posts should be vetted by social media campaign managers. Put a Social Media Policy in place giving your people the opportunity to comment, promote, and share what they contribute, which only adds to your culture. But use discretion, if you communicate with your team effectively and trust that they properly understand the social media vision and plan for your company you may not feel the need to vet every single post.

So, here comes the big question… how do you determine the right platform? This is a very important aspect of social media marketing with the most common platforms being Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but don’t count out Snapchat, it’s making the dramatic shift from private, personal snapchatting to a rapidly growing business promotion app.

The best way to determine the right platforms is quite simply to look at your competitors, your target market, and your partners to see where they are getting the best traction. Build on that. There is no need to reinvent this wheel. You don’t need to start out with all of the platforms at once either. Try one or two to begin with, build your following and measure your success. Are your followers and ‘likes’ increasing? Is there interaction with your target market? Set goals and determine implementation timelines. As you grow and continue to provide value to your consumers/customers/clients they will be more likely and more willing to support you across different platforms and channels. This is call Brand Loyalty, and should be a serious social media #squadgoal for your company.

Automation (automatic, pre-programmed social media messaging) is another great tool, but don’t rely on this too much. A) it can become very annoying to your followers very quickly, and B) it’s very impersonal. Too much “canned” messaging will push your following to either tune out or worse, unfollow you.

If at the end of the day you find that social media marketing is not your proverbial cup of tea, that’s ok, you have options. Take some time and conduct your own online research and find a company, like Morris Interactive, who can handle your social media for you – but make sure they are the right fit for your company and your culture. Take a look at their own social media and the conversations they have created and joined through their online community.

Now you have the basics (and some of the not so basics), about Social Media Marketing. It’s time to take your learning into the real word. Practice makes perfect. Be bold. Keep it real. And above all else – have fun! Remember, it all starts with people, and if you need some help, we are always here to help.

Jessie Huber is the Marketing Manager at Morris Interactive