Remember social media networking takes time, the more involved in it you and your organisation become, the more time it will take. The more successful you become within the social media world, the more interactivity you encourage, the more successful you will become but it will take still more time. So, the key success factors for any strategy come into play with social media – know what you want, have a clear end goal and then find myriad ways to achieve it.
Begin with the End in Mind
Strategy isn’t the end goal – It’s the path you take to get to that end goal. So, first you need to think about setting some goals for your Social Media work. What do you want to achieve (end goal) by getting involved in social media. Remember, social media is highly measurable, but also include softer goals such as building a strong community, loyalty, trust and interactivity around your brand. Don’t measure your Social Media strategy solely in terms of percentages or ROI.So, let’s look at some basic goals you can achieve through Social Media:
• Increase customer base
• Generate leads
• Drive sales
• Build awareness
• Make money from your content
• Establish thought leadership
• Educate customers
• Reach new channels of customers
• Improve internal communication
Questions Before the Strategy
Before you go too far down any one path, you need to ask some basic questions:
• Are your key customer groups or influencer groups likely to be online?
• How are you going to add value through their online contact with you?
• How do you plan to engage them online through your new social media platform? Interactivity is key to repeat visits but it’s not all about selling.
• How well suited is your brand to the Social Media environment?
• Which Social Media platforms are you planning to include in your strategy? LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, Podcasting, Twitter etc
• What measures will you use to determine the success or failure of your strategy?
• How long are you going run with this new strategy before you call it a success or failure?
• Who has overall responsibility for each area? It’s critical that each message you send out to the market is aligned with your brand story and that you react to any feedback/comments/queries quickly.
• How will you incorporate this into people’s daily jobs getting them actively enthused?
• Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs, podcasts and videos allow for external comments, not all of which will be good, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.
Even looking at those few questions will tell you a lot about your business and whether or not Social Media is actually a good fit for you and your internal capabilities at this stage.
Where are you going? How are you going to get there? How do you know you’ve arrived? Simple?If you’re going to put a social media strategy into place, you need to know where you’re going (end goal), align and develop the paths you’re going to take (which platforms, who’s responsible, how to engage), measure the journey (what factors signify success or failure) and funnel all this back into the original strategy as you proceed, to make it more robust, better targeted and more effective as you move forward.
First Step to Social Media Success
Listen…!Seriously, before you start developing a Social Media strategy for your organisation – Listen…Listen to what’s going on in your market – who’s playing in Social Media?What are they saying? What platforms are they using? How are they bringing value to their communities? How are their brands represented and their stories told? What are they doing and how can you do it better?Also, have a listen to what the market is saying about you – even before you begin to court feedback through actively engaging in Social Media the market may be talking about you – you need to know what people are saying.
Have a look a couple of basic listening tools:
Google Reader and Google Alerts – set these up on your iGoogle home page so you can instantly see when someone mentions you. Don’t just set your alerts for your company name; use your own name, names of people on your team, directors, influencers, clients etc. Set up alerts for business areas where you are the leader, events that you run – anything that will relate to your organisation and will give you feedback on market reactions.
Technorati – Go to www.Technorati.com, search for your company (again using product, brand, personal names) in the search bar, and see what people are saying about you. Note the little orange RSS subscription button in the upper right. Copy that link location (Right click the link and say “Copy Link” or however your browser words that). Now, put that into Google Reader as one of your listening searches. Repeat this for your competitor’s name, brand, individuals, and some industry terms (make them succinct).
Google Blogsearch – Go to Google Blogsearch and do the same thing. Sure there will be some overlap, but it’s important to capture both. The subscription to searches link is on the left hand side about 1/3 down the page.
Try Summize – if you’re thinking about using social networks and social media, it’s likely that some of your customers are using Twitter. If so, go to Summize and put in your search terms there, too. Input as many searches as you need, copying the RSS feeds and putting them into Google Reader as above. Build a strong catalog of searches initially, you can prune the bad or ineffective ones after you have tried it for a while.
About You!What do you think? What else should we work into this “Starting a Social Media Strategy” piece to make it more useful to your needs?
Start promoting your business blog today with these five effective tips from TopRank: 1. Involve influential industry bloggersBy linking to popular blogs, you can gain the attention of both the influential blogger and his or her readers. But your blog won’t be the only one to benefit. You’ll be giving the other blog a little link juice – and be paying them a compliment at the same time. 2. Promote your blog via social mediaIf your organisation already has a solid presence on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels, leverage your followers or fans to promote your new blog.For example, when a new post goes live, create a short tweet with a link back to the post – and provide the link on your Facebook fan page. 3. Create “link-bait” posts and “sticky” headlinesCreating compelling headlines or posts that resonate with social web users is another way to garner attention for your new blog… who can resist a “Top 5 Tips…” article? 4. Promote the blog on your corporate websiteIt’s important to gain some valuable real estate on the homepage of your corporate site – particularly in the early stages of getting a new blog up and running. Create a button with a link to the blog to appear on the homepage, or at the least provide a link to the blog in the navigation of the site. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your blog.5. Promote the blog offlineFor all of the online channels available to promote your blog, there are just as many offline channels to leverage. Don’t limit yourself to the online world.Instead:Add your blog URL to business cards.Promote your blog at industry events.Get print publications to pick up blog posts.Use word of mouth to let customers and business partners know of the new blog.Include the blog URL in the boilerplate of press releases (and in online releases, too).Of course, these five tips are just a few of many ways to promote and market business blogs. Whatever promotional efforts you choose, look for tactics that will help you reach business goals whether they are increasing awareness, garnering buzz in the media or driving additional website traffic.Here’s the full article from Toprank…What tactics have you used to promote your blog? We’re launching our new Social Media Marketing Service in Paril – call us on +353 1 236 0909 to chat through any questions you may have on social media or blogging.
In today’s cluttered, hypercompetitive marketplace your business can’t afford to make a poor first impression. Every touch point that leads to your company needs to impress, motivate and inspire a prospective customer. You may have a great product or service, but to be taken seriously, clients need to believe that you’re on the same playing field as the bigger guys. Even if you’re a consultant that works from a home office, you’ll need to position your company as a polished brand that touts confidence, experience and quality. Fear not. Here are five simple tips for branding your business to create the illusion that it is a global corporation with an army at the ready — all without breaking the bank.1. WebsiteYour website is the center of your brand universe. Simplicity is the key to looking like a big fish. Less is more. A clean, easy-to-navigate two-page site with useful content will make your company look far more established than a cluttered 20-page site with long-winded fluff. Design your site with the needs of your user in mind, not your ego. Sites that try to be everything to everyone will often become nothing to anyone.Choosing the right URL (Domain Name) is also a vital part of your brand positioning strategy. Your main URL should be as short as possible. Long URLs are harder to remember, harder to read and are more likely to be spelled incorrectly. There is a reason why apple.com isn’t weloveapplecomputers.com.2. Contact NumbersHow often have you seen a billboard or heard a radio spot that advertises an easily forgettable phone number? Phone numbers should be catchy and easy to remember. Using a catchy number is a great way to increase sales call volume, build brand awareness and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Not only is it easy for potential clients to remember but it’s easy for them to pass on too.3. Automated Phone SystemsCombining an easy number with automated phone systems and virtual assistants enables small businesses to look and sound professional and capable. You never miss a call, the caller’s details or their query – nor are you caught dashing into a meeting with a mobile sounding like the caller is the last person you want to speak to! This also small-business owners and employees the ability to receive calls in their home offices or on their mobile devices when they choose, while appearing to be available in their office. Which brings me to…4. Virtual OfficesEven though you might be answering a call on your mobile phone from your living room, it’s important that your customers believe they are contacting a competent established and trustworthy business. Virtual offices are an effective solution for businesses that conduct most of their day-to-day communications via phone calls and emails, and rarely need to meet their clients in their own offices. This is especially the case for smaller companies based in more remote areas who are targeting larger urban based clients. These larger clients would often rather deal with fellow urban based suppliers and a Virtual Office address can enable your brand to be seen as being London based, for example, without having to actually be there.5. The Business CardNow you have a slick website, a memorable phone number and a captain-of-industry street address. It’s time to combine all of those elements into a single tool. The business card is a vital part of the first impression experience and an instant reflection of you and your company’s work. A cheap, uninspired business card will send the wrong message to a prospective customer. Spend time designing a card. Be creative, yet tasteful. Choose a thicker card stock with a high quality finish. Remember, there is a reverse side! Use this effectively to show examples of your work, bullet points of your services, your web address etc. Make sure that you are able to write on your card – people often make notes about you or your company on the card to remind them of salient details of your service, so stay away from very high gloss finishes. Customers want to do business with companies that demonstrate their ability to provide high quality services, and a creative business card will send them that message.
Here are a few steps for how to maintain your sanity while using social media tools effectively:
1. Learn the differences, know what each tool is good for
Each social media tool has its own personality, its own community of enthusiasts, its own speed and frequency. Take the time to learn them. Log on, create a personal profile and “listen” for a while. Join groups that are of personal interest to you and watch how people share information. Learn first-hand how the tool is used by others before using it for your business.
2. Stay focused on your goals and know your audience
While social media tools can reach and influence millions of people as they did for the Obama campaign, for most small businesses, this is not the point. Don’t get sucked into the hype and forget your main communications goals. Perhaps you need to find and build a few key relationships, or reach a few tens of thousands depending on the scale of your business. Figure out who & what you’re looking for and stay focused – remember only get involved with the areas that will succeed for your business otherwise you are bringing non-profitable work on yourself – Social Media is time consuming so ensure that it’s working. Know your measurement criteria clearly.
3. Don’t reinvent your wheel
What marketing and communications strategies are already working for you? Don’t ditch these in favour of Social Media just because it’s the Hot Topic of the moment. If you know what works with your audience now, start by figuring out how to achieve similar results with the addition to your arsenal of these new tech tools.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
You don’t necessarily need to be active in all places at once. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the hot spots of the moment, but make sure you know who your audience is and how they take up information. Spend some time figuring out which Social Media vehicles will give you the greatest access to this audience and start there.
5. Don’t sweat it and don’t rush it
Honestly, everyone is still figuring out the best way to use social media tools. The sudden explosion of these tools themselves shows that people are still figuring out how best to use the Internet! Don’t panic, don’t fear you’ve missed the boat and go rushing into something that you’ll have to back pedal on later. Take the time to learn what these new social media tools could do for your business – start small and slow.