Like you, Elton Rivas wants to know who needs social media anyways?

Social media … social schmedia I say. Okay, maybe not, as it has definitely become the hot topic for conversation among us marketing types right now and for good reason.

“Facebook, Twitter, Technorati, LinkedIn … what’s next? More importantly, what the heck do I do with these mediums today and how can they help my business? This is just overwhelming. Period!”

This is a compilation of phrases I hear all too frequently lately and I can’t blame those who say it. Heck, I feel the pain and share it with you. However, rather than do nothing, I encourage you to act. Take some steps, learn a bit, and act. This trend is not going anywhere in the near future, so let’s break this down into a digestible format for contractors and use these new tools to help increase sales. Because, let’s face it, at the end of the day, that’s really what any marketing tool is about. (Oh, and for this, I’m going to assume you already have a website for your business.)

Social media marketing is the Internet’s version of “word of mouth advertising.” The explosion of social networks on the Internet however, has simply changed the game. We’ve gone from the normal word of mouth advertising, where people would tell a few friends about something (good or bad), to now allowing for the possibility for a rapid spread of information throughout the world in a few days, or even hours!

Picture this: you add a blog to your current website and post something of value (think expert tips from you for a homeowner, or that hilarious, brand-building television advertisement you created). On this post you were crafty, and placed a ShareThis icon, which allows your post to be easily shared through a multitude of social media sites (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and to name a few). One person shares the post with their 250 friends on Facebook, and 10 of their friends do the same. You’ve got an army promoting your business.

Sure sounds great doesn’t it? Seems simple too? It’s not as simple as it may seem, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t begin.

Numerous leaders in the social media marketing space have key components to begin developing a social media strategy. Not all are the same, but they do have some core components that I’ve outlined for you below:

Define Your Goal(s) &Start SimpleWhat are your goals for this month? I’m sure you have an answer to that for your business. The same should apply to your social media marketing strategy. Goals can include creating additional leads, increasing your brand awareness, monitoring feedback about your business, or a variety of others. Listen, learn and identify what the “tone” and “language” or social networks are for your customer group/target market before implementing any communication with them directly.

Be Selective & Think Through Your Strategy  Hand-select your tools for a social media marketing strategy as you would for any new program. This has the potential to be a serious portion of your overall marketing plan and should be treated as such.

Be You  If you decide that a portion of your strategy is to engage with customers via blogs and comments on social networks, be genuine. Be consistent. Be you. At the end of the day your personal/company brand will come across as human if you are yourself. There are very few examples of successful “imposters” writing blogs and publishing content on social media sites. At the end of the day remember, people want to interact with people … think about it.

Technology Is A Tool  Remember, a good solid marketing strategy with social media marketing as a portion of it will generate new business and keep your brand strong. All of these new social media sites are there to aid that strategy, NOT to be the strategy.

Social media marketing can rapidly enhance your brand and business. It can provide the accelerant that many contractors need to help boost sales. I encourage you to learn more about it. Ask questions and start small. Go contractors!