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While designated positions such as “Community Manager” or “Social Media Coordinator” do exist and have become important roles in many companies, it can sometimes seem like all of today’s professionals are expected to be social media experts, able to take over management of a company’s social media profile at any time if needed.

For those in need of some light in the darkness, I’ve created a short introduction to using social media. Consider this your very own social media management crash course if you wish. By the time you are finished, you will understand the important basics of how to analyze, contribute to, and manage social media!

Why Social Media Matters

Social media has fundamentally changed the way companies communicate with their customers. What used to be a one-way dialogue has become a two-way conversation, a great channel that allows a company to receive both positive and negative feedback they can use to improve their products and services.

Back in the day, companies used to reach customers via different media formats: newspaper, radio, TV, and billboards. All of these remain popular advertising channels; however, none make it possible to track their ROI. How many customers ended up buying a product because of a specific marketing campaign? How many buyers first learned about a product on the radio? How many of them saw a specific newspaper ad? It’s a guessing game at best.

When the Internet came around, and results were measurable by tracking website visits and click-through rates,  metrics started to become more accurate. But there was still no way to communicate with the customer — it was all about getting them to your website and hoping they would find what they were looking for. The reason why a visitor left a website after only four seconds could only be speculated.

With the advent of social media, marketing now has a totally different reach and return. Social media allows for a true connection between the company and the customer, where both can communicate with one another. It is one of the best examples for a true win-win situation: the customer can raise his opinion and get a response, while the company gets to dive deep into customer care and assess their overall performance.

Being Remarkable Is Key

The best part is that social media allows a company to receive feedback on any campaign, even those not run online. If a marketing or advertising campaign is remarkable in any way (good or bad), the company will hear about it, as the average customer today is very likely to share his or her experiences or opinions with their trusted circle on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Before getting into any analysis, it is important to differentiate between quantity and quality. Not every customer of yours is the ideal customer, and not every customer statement has the same value. Before you assess your brand image and reputation, you must narrow down your target audience. Who are your customers? Which social networks do they use?

Once defined, you can better target your ideal customer and know where to find their important thoughts and comments about your business.

How to Discover What People Are Saying About You

Once you determine your target audience, you are ready to find, track, and analyze that audience’s statements on social media. This is such valuable information that it still surprises me when I encounter a company that ignores this data.

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About Melanie Haselmayr

Melanie Haselmayr is a startup strategist and founder of Mevvy, a distinct app discovery platform. She tweets via @melihaselmayr and gives personalized app recommendations via @askmevvy. Melanie's personal blog is Refreshingly Transparent and her full profile can be found on her personal website.

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