Linda Fanaras, president and founder of Millennium Integrated Marketing, with offices in Manchester and Boston, says businesses must take a good look at social media.
Fanaras and colleague Abigail Burton were featured presenters at Northeast Public Power Association’s 2010 Customer Service Conference last week in Sandwich, Mass.
Q:What are you seeing with social media locally with businesses here in New Hampshire?
There are a lot of different strategies. … Many are using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook to their benefit. Particularly products like Facebook, there are key ways to really target your market .... Twitter is key. LinkedIn is key. Video is key and that’s really starting to take off, as well as Facebook.
For [business owners] who haven’t used social media ... is there a good application to start with? Should they be looking at it that way?
You want to think about your business ... and then figure out the best way to reach your market. If you’re a law firm and you deal with a lot of other businesses, you may look into LinkedIn. ...Maybe you have a retail product and you’re trying to target women who are 35 to 55; we’re finding that’s a very fast-growing demographic on Facebook. Maybe there’s a mechanism to get involved with on Facebook. It’s all relative. Because it is so overwhelming, it makes sense to take a step back, evaluate and choose the best social media avenue for that.
So maybe spending a little more time stepping back and looking at what you have to offer before opting for social media?
I think that’s the easiest way to go about it. There are over 3,000 social media applications and that causes additional confusion. You need to look at what’s going to make sense for [your] business. ... It’s really a different way to interact ... a key way to engage your audience. Things like educational pieces are key. Video is key. Talking about points of interest. And I always like to say if you want to market your business on social media, you don’t want to talk about how great you are. What you’re trying to do is engage people in a conversation
What are some things businesses can do with social media?
As an example, you really want to develop a social media plan. You want to look at what the appropriate social media mechanisms are going to be. A retail store may find value in Twitter and Facebook. They can literally run ads on Facebook to appeal to a demographic. You develop a page for your business on Facebook and do the same on Twitter. ... You ask people to become friends on Facebook. The new terminology now is “like it.” That sort of social media group starts to grow and get bigger and you’re building a network of people interested in products and services. There are ways that you can blog. Say you’re selling a really unique product and you really want to talk about that unique product, you can create a blog. You can pitch it to bloggers. There are many opportunities in that way to be taken advantage of.
Is social media at a point where companies really need to do it to remain viable or are we not quite there yet?
I believe it is really the key to where we’re heading. There’s really been a lot of changes in the past year in how businesses are marketing and how they’re being found. That’s interactive, digital media — those are key components. I definitely believe it’s a major factor to engage in this media in a way that obviously benefits the company. I definitely think companies should look at it seriously.
Are there resources ... for people who don’t know much about social media applications?
I can’t think of one resource that really illustrates what markets are best for that. I would say to take a look at the top 10 social media applications or work with a firm that knows about social media. They can sort of identify ... the best places to start .... It’s really an ongoing consistent effort to build up a social media gathering of people. ... The key, the bottom line, is to drive business to your website. So if you have a Twitter account and a Facebook account, it’s kind of this spoke theory. You’ve got all of these outlets and the hub part of this is your website. Take all the social media, which are the spokes, and drive people to the hub, which is your website, if you think about it. How can you [use] the social media concept to drive traffic and interest to your website?
Once the social media plan is up and running, what types of benefits do people see?
When you launch a social media campaign, it might not mean 1,000 leads all of a sudden at your doorstep. You start to build an online presence .... Some allow you to brand your page, so your Twitter page has a similar look and feel as your website. All of these dots start to connect over time. ... you’re going to take this time and effort, but it will definitely yield results. It’s an opportunity to be in consistent contact on a more natural basis. ...
When you talk with business owners, what types of questions do you get ...?
... people are all at very different stages. Some don’t understand much at all, some understand a lot and some understand enough to be dangerous. The knowledge base varies....
How did you get involved with social media in this fashion?
We actually have a social media director here, so we started to engage in a lot of social media early on. ... There’s always something new coming out. … My philosophy is really to be ahead of the game. ... You don’t want to get started too late because then you’ll be two levels behind. I think it’s important for businesses to take a look and see how it can benefit them.