Social media is constantly developing. The sooner you get on board and up to date, the sooner you can take advantage of all the exciting new technologies and opportunities.
1. Get Going
It's easy to decide you want a social media campaign and then get distracted and delayed -- social media marketing will rarely be a business essential.
But you must not put it off, your competitors won't. Get planning, get prepared, and get going.
2. Get Prepared
OK, so you're socialising online and suddenly someone launches an attack against your brand, what do you do?
By using platforms such as Twitter, you lay yourself more open to attack through these mediums -- it's easier for angry customers to leave negative comments publicly, for example.
Of course, they would possibly be doing so anyway, but if you're actively promoting your brand through social media, than you're also probably searching for mentions, so you'll probably see any comments sooner.
So, work out a strategy. If you see a negative mention, will you refute it? Use legal threats to silence it? Ignore it? Respond to it as though it's any other customer complaint?
A blend of refutation and resolution works best. If you're in the right, then make your case and, if you're in the wrong, aim to resolve the issue.
Whatever you decide, have a strategy in place in advance so that you aren't left scrambling when the situation arises.
3. Get Blogging
There are many ways to socialise online but blogging is definitely my favorite. It's great for SEO because it encourages inbound links and also fills your pages with naturally keyword-rich content.
But the social implications are at least equally important. To name just a few: a blog presents your brand in a friendly, accessible way, it shows you as a thought-leader within your industry, it encourages conversation and it gives people a reason to return regularly to your pages.
If you only do one social marketing activity this year, make it a blog.
4. Get Tweeting
Twitter is an excellent marketing platform, although it admittedly can be hard to do well. However, there are some easy wins to be had on Twitter: it's less time consuming than a blog, but it has the same potential to massively expand brand awareness.
There's loads of online guidance for getting started -- just make sure you remember that quality is important, even when you only have 140 characters to play with.
Follow the rest of the advice in this blog post to avoid spamming, overselling, or otherwise alienating your followers.
5. Get Some Perspective
Before you start trying to use social media, work out what it is you want to achieve. There's no point spending time and money interacting online if you don't have a clear idea what it is you hope to get out of it.
For example, if you get 10,000 Facebook fans, what do you then intend to do with them? How will they benefit your brand? If you have 500 Twitter followers, what then?
Before you write your first Tweet, post your first comment or launch your blog, take some time to work out what you're planning to achieve and how social media will help you.
Make sure you're realistic because it's attaining these goals that will keep you motivated to continue when the novelty has worn off and the regular work is being shunted to one side by other projects.
6. Get Talking
Social media is just that -- social. It isn't a one-way street. You need to be having conversations online if you want to gain followers, fans, and readers.
So get socializing. Reply to tweets about your company or brand, interact in forums, answer comments on your blog -- have conversations.
In a real-life social situation, you'd be pretty unpopular if you simply talked without listening -- and it's the same online.
7. Get Realistic
People don't want to read advertising. They won't share your blog posts if they're just sales pitches, they won't retweet your messages if they don't add value to their own followers.
Understand this before you embark on your social media campaign, because it's at the heart of this difficult area of marketing.
Your interactions need to have value for the online market. They aren't a captive audience and they won't read or interact with your online presence if they get nothing out of it.
If you're adamant that you want to sell socially, then offer discounts and voucher codes in the social media space -- that's value-adding and is pretty much the only way you can get away with pushing products through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other online community spaces.
8. Get Active
Once you've begun your social media marketing efforts, it's important not to get bored or let the momentum drop as other projects intrude on your time.
Successful social media marketing is really a daily effort, not something you can work at every now and again.
The real benefits come when you make a regular effort -- even a weekly blog post or forum presence is better than nothing. This is especially true since Google launched its new indexing system, Google Caffeine, which searches the web far more quickly than before, and places a high value on regular content.
So, don't begin working with social media only to abandon it when it becomes obvious it takes effort and time. Effort and time is the price of a successful social media campaign.
9. Get Good at it
This is perhaps the most important tip here. It doesn't really matter how often you fill your pages with new content if it's not interesting and relevant.
Rewritten press releases, content copied from elsewhere, irrelevant ramblings about your favorite types of cheese -- this kind of filler content won't be read, it won't be shared, and there will be no online buzz (unless, of course, you're in some way involved in the cheese industry...).
You need some skill at writing articles for the online audience. Not to worry, though, there is plenty of online guidance. Just remember to keep trying to add value.
When it comes to subjects, consider the kinds of questions you asked when you first entered your industry and write answers to them. Your expertise will make your post valuable.
10. Get Motivated
What destroys a social media campaign? It's rarely negative press or legal issues. More often than not, it's apathy that kills your marketing campaign.
Social media is an ongoing effort and you need to keep the effort up. Success is slow growing but it will only come if you maintain your campaign.
That's why you need to keep your goals in mind at all time -- and use analytics tools to see just how helpful your social promotion has been. If you can see the difference it's making to your business, then it will be much easier to make time for the work.
Stay motivated by keeping your goals in sight and monitoring your success.
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