Do you shy away from using social media in your marketing efforts? Perhaps you’ve never tweeted, blogged, pinned, linked, liked, poked, or even uploaded a video. Or maybe social media is a normal part of your repertoire? Regardless of your proficiency level, you can expand your reach, influence, relationships, and results in seven easy steps to achieve the best social media marketing possible.
Step 1: Listen
The most basic thing you can do for the best social media is simply to listen to what your target audience is saying and doing. Go to the search pages for Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs, and do searches on your industry keywords, such as product names, job titles, and industry buzzwords. Find out what people are talking about — their issues, their pains, their joys, and their dreams.
As an example, when you exhibit at a trade show, search using the names of the trade show in advance of the show to find out what attendees are saying. Find your show’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and learn Twitter hashtags for your main shows to find even more messages people are sending about the shows.
Step 2: Share
Next, share good content with your target audience. Share what you think they will value, things that will help them with their jobs, content that will help you connect. Share content that echoes your viewpoint, and add your opinion (i.e., your company’s message). It’s called “content curation.” To share, set up an account on each site you want to use (i.e., where your audience is). Rookies may want to start with one site first, and then expand from there. By sharing content, you can also join in the conversations taking place all over social media, and start to build relationships with people online.
This can be as simple as “retweeting,” or re-posting, interesting tweets about your products or services, or sharing blog posts and YouTube videos that highlight what is new and interesting in your industry.
Step 3: Create
After listening and sharing, it’s time to step up to the next level — creating your own content to share on the social media sites used by your target audience. It takes a commitment because once you start, you have to sustain your pace of content. So, select a manageable schedule. Write a blog, create videos for YouTube, and have regular ideas from your own perspective to share via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Sharing content that will get shared and build your brand is great, but now the content is yours, so you are even more actively building your reputation.
Content you create can take many forms, including a company video you post on YouTube and Facebook, tweets about all the great things your company is doing, a blog post recapping the new service you are introducing, etc.
Step 4: Engage
Now that you have a created a solid footprint online, it’s time to network with the big boys. Speaker and author Brian Solis has said that when you engage with the influencers within your niche on social media sites, it’s like you are engaging with an audience of audiences. These are the connectors and the thought leaders who can help share your content with a much broader audience and help you build relationships with other influencers in your industry – the people with high Klout scores. (Klout is a website that uses analytics to rank its users according to online social influence.)
Many are also influential offline. So, follow them on Twitter, retweet their best tweets with a comment, and get a dialog going. Comment on their blog posts, and share their content on your Facebook page. Engage with influencers by searching the show’s Twitter hashtag and see whose tweets are getting the most retweeting. Search on Google blog search with the names of products, brands or services related to your business, and find out which bloggers write about your industry, and then comment on their blog posts.
Step 5: Provoke
The next level is to invest creative energy and money into making events that are so cool, so awesome, that people who see it or participate in it will whip out their smart phones, take pictures, and share what they’re seeing with all their social media contacts. Business-to-consumer brands do this a lot because they are more focused on building brand awareness to millions. Brands that do this are seen as cooler and more fun.
You can create moments at events, like trade shows, where attendees will want to have their photo taken, and then design a backdrop that includes your logo repeated on it, so your brand is seen when they share the photo or video across their social media accounts.
Step 6: Rule
The greatest challenge is to launch your own community for the best social media marketing. This may be your own group on LinkedIn or Facebook that you administer; a podcast, or a “tweet chat” (a regularly scheduled chat on Twitter) that you host. The effort is greater but, by taking a leadership role, you boost your reputation and instill gratitude among your target audience. You gain relationships with the very people your company serves, who can give you valuable feedback about their needs and their problems.
Step 7: Expand
Now that you have a viable, consistent presence on all the main social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs, you can expand in many directions. You can create more content, or add more accounts on the main networks, or help your team build or improve their LinkedIn accounts. You can refine your social media activities by creating content specific to your best vertical markets or market segments. You can go wider by starting and continuing accounts on other social media networks, such as Google+, Pinterest, Quora, StumbledUpon, Tumbler, Instagram, and others. You can also be the first in your industry to dive into new social media networks as they emerge. However, over-saturating social media may simply lead to diminishing returns. You have to decide what works best for your company and your audience.