Taming the beast. Ten tips for building social media strategy.

Thinking about dipping your toes into social media, but not know where to start? Getting ahead in social media means integrating old school tactics like email campaigns, collateral, and sales calls with new tactics, like social media, elearning  and solution selling. And, as in any marketing tactic, a social media strategy begins with the basics. Without some support, it may seem like a beast that just can’t be tamed. Below are a few tips I have learned about feeding the beast. Feeding the beast takes time Social media marketing is a hungry beast that needs to be continually fed. Millions of articles, videos and tweets are submitted every day and search engines have to weed through them all to determine what is relevant. They do this by understanding what you, as the “searcher” are looking for. Complex algorithms and very smart people do this for the likes of Google and Yahoo. These algorithms change regularly, looking for fresh content, keywords and influencers. To be found in search and on social media sites, you need to spend the time to have a plan and to engage on an ongoing basis. The 1st question to ask yourself Do you know why you are wanting to be online? If the answer is “because everyone else is”, then maybe you should take a step back. Most people on reputable social media sites, whether they be forums, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn are not looking for a hard sell. Before you dive in, you should prepare to listen, comment, and make a genuine contribution for the good of others. The very fact that you are contributing builds your reputation as a knowledgeable source. If your goal is to build traffic to your site, linking your comments back to your site, adding tips, and posting links to videos, training or an offer will help. But, remember value to the prospective customer should be your utmost concern. The setup is easy. Maintenance takes time. And finally the top 10 list. You can easily set up a site, blog or profile on hundreds of platforms, but before you do, take the time to plan ongoing engagement. A few of my hints and tricks:
  1. Know your customers and your competitors. I will be posting another article on this topic, but to start with, make sure you are speaking their language, using their terminology and search terms. Tools like Google AdWords are very effective, but it can also be as easy as searching your competition and see what comes up. Use those key words in your title and body copy.
  2. Write several articles before going live so that you have a small library to pull from when you don’t have time to write. Run them through a few colleagues or friends first. You may find, just as I have, that knowing a subject too well can drive you to use acronyms or terms that are not known to anyone but you.
  3. Build a calendar (in Google, Outlook, etc) to remind you when articles should be posted and give yourself time to write them.
  4. Create a list of hot topics. Talk to your customers, look at a trade journal, check LinkedIn and join groups. Any of those can help you develop a “editorial calendar”
  5. Posts don’t need to be long, but they need to have customer value. Don’t think about what you want to sell, but rather what problem do your customers have that you can solve. Talk to the pain, not the product.
  6. Set up tracking to tell you when specific topics are posted or competitors are talking online so that you can respond to them. Free services, like Google Alerts are fine to start with.
  7. Track your results to know what topics are of most interest and if you are getting traction on those topics.
  8. Follow respected bloggers and writers. You will get a great understanding of why people follow them and how to improve your own results.
  9. Promote. Promote. Promote. Add your profiles and links to your emails, business cards, and marketing material.
  10. Know when it is time to outsource – As a business owner, time is an important resource that requires you to spend it in the most efficient way. For this reason, many companies have decided that outsourcing is a better use of time. Lastly, be authentic and transparent. Honesty goes a long way.
Social media is a beast, demanding substantial time in planning and everyday engagement to gain traction and momentum, but you have what it takes to feed it that beast. You know your market, you know your product, you know your customer. Share that knowledge. Your customers will thank you for it. Kevin Kohleriter is the President of MarketBurst, a marketing and sales consulting firm dedicated to growing the revenue of it’s clients through strategy, sales enablement, and creative development. More information can be found at www.marketburst.net or email kevink@marketburst.net.

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