I’ll confess that this has been on my editorial calendar for ages. I have finally put myself in gear because I get asked about this constantly by clients. I adore each and every one of you… so here you go. Please feel free to comment, add or whatever.
Social media is the name of the game. People are balking from a lack of interaction between company leaders and clients. We all want to connect. There is a reason that more and more businesses are spending a huge amount of time on a social media strategy. I’ve comprised a few tenets or “lessons” you should know before you jump into the fray.
Just yesterday I saw this tweet (via @unmarketing) “It takes 1,000 tweets to build a reputation and one to ruin it. Don’t tweet anything you don’t want on a billboard.” This couldn’t be more true. Just like you pass items through your PR department, you need to decide a few things ahead of time when getting into social media. Set some boundaries to keep you out of trouble and keep your branding intact. Here are a few examples of things to decide ahead of time:
*Personable or super professional. Social media is all about making a connection, so I would be cautious about the super professional path that makes you seem cold and distant. On the other hand, you shouldn’t post pictures of a kegger.
*Observational or Newsworthy. A common role many people play in Twitter and other social media is that of “content curation.” This basically means they find fantastic content and pass it along. This would be newsworthy to your followers. What you have for dinner *might* be interesting to your family. Might be.
*Active Participants. Some companies like @highlyrelevant have multiple twitter accounts. They have the main account and then each partner has a personal account. This is a fantastic set up if you can keep it going, because different staff members have different interests and will attract different types of followers. Or maybe you can do something like @ohiou which has multiple people posting to the same feed. This keeps updates fresh and constant. Again, you can do whatever you want. My only suggestion is to decide this ahead of time and stick with it.
*Type of Audience. I highly suggest choosing a niche for your twitter. I cater to entrepreneurs and small businesses using my social media because that is where my interests lie. So when I read an article that audience would enjoy, I pass it on. If I find an interesting article about aerospace I email it to my dad. I don’t tweet it. Make sense? Sure you can go off on tangents occasionally, but decide ahead of time who you want to interact with. Once you hit 1000 followers or more you will really enjoy having a common interest.
*Follow/No-Follow Strategy. As a company, decide if you will simply follow everyone that follows you or if you will select a specific type of person. This is directly related to your end goal. Which leads me to…
*End Goal. Do you want to have 30k followers for the sake of numbers or would you rather have a smaller amount of followers that actually read what you write? If you want the big numbers, go for it. That works for a lot of companies. It is even an advertising model unto itself. Once you jump into social media you will see the ads like, “I will send your message to my 30k followers.” Note that all those 30k followers aren’t really listening. On the other hand, if you want to constantly interact and have influence over your followers I suggest being a bit more picky about who you follow and how you message them.
The worst thing you can do in any social media campaign is be sporadic. Whether that means tweeting for a few days and quitting, or tweeting 5 times a day and then having a 30-tweet day. First, social media takes time. If you want natural followers that will actually enjoy your information instead of just spam bots, you need to hang out a bit. Give yourself and your campaign more than a couple weeks to win people over. Secondly, you will find that everyone in social media has their own activity level. There are those who spend 10 minutes every other day on a site, and others that spend 10 hours every day. You can be in any group you want, I just suggest that you pick one and stick with it. If you’re both active and reliable with your level of activity, you’ll bring in more potential clients.
Let’s say you start a social media campaign and spend the very minimum. You do this for a few months and gain a following. At this point you are stuck, because if you double, triple or quadruple your activity most of your followers/friends/contacts will delete you. Does that make sense? I know it can be difficult to jump in with both feet and go crazy with social media before you get your bearings straight. But honestly, this is the smartest thing to do. If you want to have 15k followers eventually, act like you have that many already. Other people with that sort of activity level will gravitate to you.
I read an interesting article today by the people over at Socialnomics (http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/04/19/myth-buster-social-media-is-free/) that’s all about the amount of time people spend in social media. What might surprise you is the fact that those that have been active in social media the longest spend the most time at it. This communicates to me that more is better. Why else would someone spend 3 years doing something for their business unless it was working?
Any how to do social media article wouldn’t be complete with the idea of separation. This can be difficult for the small business owner. When you are your business it can be tough to separate the business from the personal. I will tell you how I do it. I make the is by far my most active platform. This is fast-moving and I check it often. On Facebook I have the company page and then my personal account. I use this purely for networking and, of course, the occasional family member drops in to say hi. LinkedIn is obviously a networking platform that is perfectly suited for business owners. The big separation for me is on Flickr and Youtube. Both of these platforms are useless for my business. Sure, I could create some copywriting videos, but I have no desire to keep that up. In my opinion a Youtube channel with less than 20 videos is a bit silly. So what do I do with those platforms? I use them purely for personal use. In fact, they are just videos and pictures of my dogs.
Does this do anything for my business? Not really. Does it harm my business? No. And the reason it doesn’t is because if any of my clients stumble on my Youtube channel they will know right away that it is a personal account. There isn’t any confusion. It’s day after day of my dogs. A huge mistake would be to use the same channel or photo stream for multiple avenues. As long as you keep things separate you can enjoy them all to their fullest. However, keep in mind that if you are the face of your brand you still don’t want pictures of your drunken self anywhere!
I mentioned this on my personal blog last week (www.AmieMarse.com) but I think it warrants attention here. Roughly a year ago empireavenue.com was launched. It was suppose to be an advertising type venture that soon developed into an incredible game. In the last couple months this site has taken off as more and more people are using it to dominate their social media arenas. Basically it is a virtual stock exchange based on your social media activity. It’s fun and you can definitely network with like minded people. More than anything though, it’s a great motivator to keep you consistent with your social media. I highly suggest you check it out. You can join here via my join link (http://empireavenue.com/?t=1eyd5xlc) and we can both get some goodies. Be sure to message me when you join so I can buy up some of your shares.
In addition to EmpireAvenue.com, I highly suggest that you connect your iPhone, iPad or other smartphone or tablet to your social media accounts. That way you can tweet or post to Facebook while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting at the doctor’s office. The easier it is, the more likely you will stay in control.
Does @Content_Money provide social media services?
Nope. One, we haven’t been all that active for all that long. And two, we find it difficult to charge clients for things that are difficult to quantify. I am more than happy to talk to anybody about their social media or social content strategy, but as a company Content Equals Money is far from charging for this service. If you run a PR firm that offers these services or you have a good suggestion, feel free to leave it in the comments. And of course you can connect with me on twitter @Content_Money 🙂
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