Pre-Game Warm Up
Before you jump into the social media marketing game it’s important that you have established some goals for your social media endeavors (I.e Increase traffic, generate X leads, double blog subscribers, etc). In addition, you should make sure you have secured your name/identity across various social media spaces and be sure to use the same profile consistently. Two good services to check the availability of your name or to find impostors are www.namechk.com and www.knowem.com. Once you have registered your name across the applicable services you will need to decide which to focus your efforts on. It’s better to have deeper penetration in a few spaces than infrequent activity across a wide variety. Quality and consistency are key. I have chosen a few specific tools for this game plan but yours might be different depending your needs and goals. Anyway, let’s drop the puck!
First Period – Blog to the left then Vlog to the right
Blogs: Set a goal for blog posts and try be consistent. Use a service like WordPress, Blogger or Posterous to get set up quickly. Mix up the nature of your posts by including multimedia (videos, pictures, audio, etc). If you are having a hard time coming up with blog ideas here are a few topics you can use over and over: X tips for accomplishing X, customer case study, contest or promotion, general industry opinion, list of resources or product reviews, summary of an event you attended, interview with somebody interesting, and predicting trends.
If you are blogging, explore marketing your articles for inclusion on other blogs and listing them on sites like digg, reddit, and technorati. This will help with getting your website url distributed on more sites which should aid with search engine results since they place importance on the popularity of where you site url appears. Having your blog listed in multiple places will also help raise your profile.
Another approach is the syndication of your blog articles which is called “article marketing”. There are some websites devoted to just being article directories; some are shady but others are reputable. A few popular sites for submitting your articles for mass distribution are ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, and articlesbase.com although there are many many others. Be warned that this takes time but it could have beneficial long term effects. Choose your article directories and submission services wisely.
Vlogs: Create a YouTube or Vimeo Channel so you have a repository for any videos. Although this is more work to accomplish and not everybody wants to be on camera try give it a shot since video often ranks better in search engines than the equivalent piece done in text (See: Video Killed the Word Star). Make sure you are providing something valuable, interesting, or entertaining. Once you have some videos submit them to Tubemogul to help with distribution.
Second Period – Fill up the neutral zone with social media
Twitter: Ensure your profile has a nice but natural picture, complete bio, and link to your website. Try tweet at least once a day and no more than twenty four times since you may start to annoy your followers. Provide resources, tips, links to interesting articles, and give shout-outs to other people. In addition, insert something personal every once in awhile. Above all, do not be over promotional with your tweets since this is twitter taboo. Perhaps use a 3:1 ratio of business tweets with personal tweets and maybe do something promotional once in a while. Also, start following as many relevant people as possible since they may return the favor and follow you. To encourage sharing (Retweets) you may want to simply put “Please RT” after any twitter message that provides a tip or link to your blog. Use www.search.twitter.com to find people tweeting about topics of interest or find local people by using this exact search term – near:”City, Province, Country” within:15mi
LinkedIn: Join groups on LinkedIn specifically geared towards your industry, profession, or city and participate in discussions by providing comments or posting links to your blog if they are valuable/relevant. The Q&A feature of LinkedIn is also a good place to build up relationships. Build up some “recommendations” for yourself or company since these are one of the most viewed areas of a LinkedIn profile – A good place to start is by recommending someone else first since they will be prompted to return the favor. You can quickly build up your LinkedIn network by joining open networks of people who are willing to connect with anybody (I.e. TopLinked.com), but this can result in quantity over quality.
Facebook: If you choose to set up a public profile on Facebook make sure you dedicate time to keeping it active with fresh content and engaging with your fans. So often public profiles are set-up and then waste away with little activity. If you are committed to it then offer a contest for people who sign up for your Facebook public profile. You can also easily advertise your group or company with Facebook Ads – they’re very targeted and affordable. If you do advertise on Facebook make sure people can link to your page, become fans and also add the group to their profile. In addition, links to newsletters and sponsored events fair well for engagement. To maximize the social sharing aspect of the group make sure most things are posted on your “wall” since these items will show up in people’s news feeds. Also, consider having an event where you take pictures of attendees and then, with their permission, tag them in a photo you post on Facebook. Tagged photos will show up in the person’s profile as well as their news feed which is great for distribution. Pictures and videos get viewed the most of any content on Facebook so be sure these are prominent on your wall.
Third Period – Use teamwork to protect your gains
Updating & Monitoring: A cheap and easy way to monitor all your social media spaces and alerts in one place is by using Netvibes. This service allows you to create a dashboard with your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Alerts, RSS, and webmail centralized in one place so that you can react quickly and efficiently. There is some limit to the functionality but you can accomplish quite a bit. Netvibes also makes it easy to make multiple updates from one spot. If you’re really pressed for time and need to send out an update you can also use a service like ping.fm which will broadcast the update to all your social networks at once. If you’re monitoring and campaign needs are more sophisticated then you will want to investigate providers like Radian6, Alterian, or Spredfast.