Everywhere you turn people are talking about social media, it has a buzz about it that seemingly won’t die. There’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, stumble and many many more.

As a business you want to make sure you tap in to these resources and not miss out on all the new opportunities that they apparently bring, but like any journey you need a road map and you need  to know where you want to end up. Just blindly leaping in without a plan and without a little knowledge may at best have no effect and at worse take vital resources away from other parts of your business.

Rather than tell you how to actually use twitter or Facebook (see our other guides for that) this post is going to run through some basics on what you should be expecting from your social media engagement.

Firstly let’s look at what not to expect. Once you have set up your pages don’t expect people to flock to you, let’s face it, if you wouldn’t “like” a Facebook page or “follow” a Twitter account that is all about dog food then why would anyone else?! This doesn’t mean you should give up but it does mean that you might have to put a bit more effort in to building up your followers then say a race team would have to. There are loads of good ways to do this but that is a subject of another blog.

Secondly, even when you have a good amount of followers don’t expect a noticeable increase in your bottom line.  One key thing to remember is that when people are using social media they are just browsing, they are not looking to buy.  This means that if you pump a lot of resource in to social media you may not see the benefits of that time spent straight away.

Now I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, social media is fantastic and used the right way, with the right expectations it can be a great benefit to your business.

The key to having a successful social media campaign is content. There is a saying in internet marketing that “Content is King” and this is especially true in social media. The reason for this is that social media users like, share and talk about good content. Think of all those pictures and articles you’ve seen being shared around, that’s all great content! Without it people have no reason to look at your page. As I say that is the topic of a future blog, but if social media doesn’t increase sales directly what, I hear you ask, is the point?! Links my friends, it’s all about links. If you have great content that people see through your social media channels, chances are they will be sharing them with their networks, if those people like what they see others will share it. In that process there will be people who will link back to your site (where the content lives) to share it with others, the more links a page has the better it will rank, the better you rank in Google the more visitors your site gets, and as you well know, more visitors means more sale opportunities!

In addition, having a social media presence will help increase trust in your brand, raise awareness and create an informal way for people to get in touch with you, all important things when looking to get people to give you their cash.

So to sum up, a social media presence will not directly lead to increased sales, but with the right cultivation, management, and most importantly content, your social media presence will lead to more links back to your site which in turn is a major driving force behind how well your site ranks.