Social Media Getting Started
Social Media - The First Steps
Getting started in Social Media Marketing can be overwhelming, not just how your business should be doing things, but also determining what Social Media Tools will be most effective in assisting you to achieve your business goals and objectives.
Your Social Media Marketing Program should be initiated gradually over an extended period of time to evaluate the Social Media tools and methods being used. Additional Social Media tools should only be added as you and your employees become confident in the use of those currently used and upon determining how effective the tools used have been in your Social Media program.
Jumping into Social Media with all the bells and whistles is not recommended, not only will it be difficult to determine what is and what isn't working, it has the potential to wreak havoc with your primary business activities.
The First Step – Social Media Tools Selection
The first step in developing your Social Media Program should be a Social Media SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), when the SWOT analysis has been completed it is then time to select the tools and methods for your Social Media implementation.
Although there is an endless selection of tools available, I recommend implementing only two primary tools in the initial stages of your Social Media program; Blogging and Social Networking. Once these tools have been proven as being affective for your company, then will be the time to branch out and initiate additional methods of Social Media interaction.
I would have difficulty prioritizing Blogging over Social Networking, both of these Social Media tools are equally important and both support the efforts of the other. When used in conjunction, these tools will be your primary Social Media tools of your Social Media Program.
Blogging: The blog is one of the most powerful Social Media Marketing tools you have available to promote your business and interact with your web site visitors. Blogging is an effective Social Media Marketing technique, the time spent developing and promoting your business’s Blog will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your Social Media program.
Social Networking: Social Networking is where it all happens, it is the meet and greet of the online world. The choice of Social Networks is constantly increasing and therefore, care must be taken when selecting the Social Network/s you decide to use as part of your program.
I say chose wisely because to become a valuable member of your community will take time, there is no point in joining and not interacting with other members. Develop your reputation and developing a good relationship with your contacts prior to progressing to other networking opportunities, and then only when you are sure you have the time to make the commitment to an additional Social Networking community.
The Second Step – Engage your Customers and Prospects
Without doubt Social Media has enabled consumers to talk about the products and services of any business or company they desire. Its fact, there is absolutely nothing your business can do to control these conversations however, Social Media does enable you to influence the conversations taking place by participating. Social Media is not just about networking, becoming recognized as a publisher of high quality, relevant content is an important part of any Social Media strategy. You will need to define the content for your business niche and build content around your specialties and expertise to be able to influence the conversations within your niche.
Become a Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader is not solely about promoting your business or products in a salesy manner, it is about interaction, communication, and most importantly listening to what your customers and prospects have to say and what is important to them enabling your communication techniques to your niche market.
There are a number of methods to achieve this such as encouraging comments on Blogs and Social Networking forums, discovering and listening to the top influencers within your niche, plus using web sites such as Survey Monkey to get gain an understanding of what is important to those interacting in your business niche.
It is only when you have a clear understanding of what is important to your community and what consumers are saying within your niche that you are able to begin to understand the social environment well enough to develop content and interact within the community in an influential manner.
The Third Step – Monitoring Results
As with any business promotional initiative ensuring and measuring results is imperative, if this is not done it will be difficult to determine what works and what does not and in the current economic environment any wastage of time or financial resources must be minimized.
Measuring the effectiveness of Social Media is not as straight forward as some would like due to the many aspects unable to be measured without extensive marketing research because much of the programs success will be measured on customer experiences, such as:
- Customer satisfaction
- Improved communication
- Better service response
- Higher brand perception
However there are aspects of your Social Media Program which you can monitor effectively which will provide an indication of the effectiveness of your Social Media Program including:
- Web site and blog traffic monitoring with a web analytics program
- Number of comments on Blogs and social conversations
- Number of mentions your business obtains in the social environment
The Last Word
It must be noted that the above is a highly simplified overview of the business requirements of Social Media however, starting Social Media with an understanding of theses basic steps will ensure you develop the foundation required to develop a Social Media Marketing Program which is able to grow into a powerful toolset for your business.