In a further continuation of my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 Tips for Getting More from LinkedIn, 5 Tips for Getting More from Facebook, and 5 tips for Getting More from Twitter), Iâ€™m covering some overarching advice today as I believe small business owners and marketers need to think strategically about social media use, perhaps before they ever start to discuss tactical use.
1) Integrate – Don’t treat your social media activity as something separate from your other marketing initiatives. Feature links to your social media profiles in your email signature, on your business cards, in your ads, and as a standard block of copy in your weekly HTML email newsletter. In addition, make sure that links to your educational content are featured prominently in your social media profiles and that Facebook fan page visitors and blog subscribers are offered the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter and attend your online and offline events. Make your social media profiles a part of your address copy block and you will soon see adding them to all that you do as an automatic action.
2) Amplify – Use your social media activity to create awareness for and amplify your content housed in other places. This can go for teasing some aspect of your latest blog post on twitter or in your Facebook status, creating full blown events on Eventful or MeetUP, or pointing to mentions of your firm in the media. If you publish a bi-weekly newsletter, in addition to sending it to your subscribers, archive it online and tweet it too. You can also add social features to your newsletter to make it very easy for others to retweet (tweetmeme button) and share on social bookmark sites such as delicious and digg. I would also add that filtering other people’s great content and pointing this out to your followers, fans and subscribers fits into this category as it builds your overall reputation for good content sharing and helps to buffer the notion that you are simply broadcasting your announcements. Quality over quantity always wins in social media marketing.
3) Repurpose – Taking content that appears in one form and twisting it in ways that make it more available in a another, or to another audience, is one of the secrets to success in our hyperinfo driven marketing world we find ourselves. When you hold an event to present information you can promote the event in various social media networks and then capture that event and post the audio to your podcast, slides to Slideshare, and transcript (I use Castingwords for this) as a free report for download. You can string 5 blog posts together (like this series) and make them available as a workshop handout or a bonus for your LinkedIn group. Never look at any content as a single use, single medium, act.
4) Lead generate – So many people want to generate leads in the wide world of social media, but can’t seem to understand how or have met with downright hostile reactions when trying. Effectively generating leads from social media marketing is really no different than effectively generating leads anywhere – it’s just that the care you must take to do it right is amplified by the “no selling allowed” culture. No one like to be sold to in any environment – the trick is to let them buy – and this is even more important in social media marketing. So, what this means is that your activity, much of what I’ve mentioned above, needs to focus on creating awareness of your valuable, education based content, housed on your main hub site. You can gain permission to market to your social media network and contacts when you can build a level of trust through content sharing and engagement. It’s really the ultimate two step advertising, only perhaps now it’s three step – meet and engage in social media, lead to content elsewhere, content elsewhere presents the opportunity to buy. To generate leads through social media marketing, you need to view your activity on social sites like an effective headline for an ad – the purpose of the headline is not to sell, but to engage and build know, like and trust – it’s the ultimate permission based play when done correctly.
One glaring exception to this softer approach for some folks is twitter search. I believe you can use twitter search to locate people in your area who are asking for solutions and complaining about problems you can solve and reach out to them directly with a bit of a solution pitch. People who are talking publicly about needing something are offering a form of permission and can be approached as more of warmed lead. The same can also be said for LinkedIn Answers – if someone asks if “anyone knows a good WordPress designer”, I think you can move to convincing them that you are indeed a great WordPress designer.
5) Learn – One of the hangups I encounter frequently from people just trying to get started in social media marketing is the paralysis formed when they stare blankly at twitter wondering what in the world to say. The pressure to fill the silence can be so overwhelming that they eventually succumb and tweet what they had for lunch. If you find yourself in this camp, I’m going to let you off the hook – you don’t have to say anything to get tremendous benefit from social media participation. If I did nothing more than listen and occasionally respond when directly engaged, I would derive tremendous benefit from that level of participation. In fact, if you are just getting started this is what you should do before you ever open your 140 character mouth. Set up an RSS reader and subscribe to blogs, visit social bookmarking sites like BizSugar and delicious and read what’s popular, create custom twitter searches for your brand, you competitors, and your industry, and closely follow people on twitter who have a reputation for putting out great content. And then just listen and learn. If you do only this you will be much smarter about your business and industry than most and you may eventually gain the knowledge and confidence to tap the full range of what’s possible in the wild and wacky world of social media marketing.
Image credit: dotbenjamin