Sunday, October 31, 2010

Become A Social Media Master In 5 and 1-Half Steps

Thanks to Olalah Njenga, Marketing Strategist, Author and Columnist for Carolina Business Connection.  Visit http://www.olalah.com/  and http://carolinabusinessconnection.com/

Social this. Social that. But what does it all really mean? Here’s the short answer; to some it means absolutely nothing; to others, it means the world has changed forever. As a marketing strategist, I see the social space as a relevant environment for business growth. Varying opinions about what to do and what not to do in the social space continues to cause confusion. The truth is “best practices” for social networks are difficult to define because everyone who participates in the social space has their own agenda.

Whether you’re jumping into the social media space as a novice, or you’re a social media maven, I’ve outlined a few ways to help you get more out of the social experience. My hope is that you’ll see both the relevance and the value in the business of being social.

Here’s 5 ½ ways to master the social space:

1- Have A Purpose
If you don’t know why you’re doing something, how will you know if it’s working, or not? “What’s your purpose for using social media?” seems like an obvious question to me, but you would be surprised how many smart people look at me like I have two heads and respond “Because everyone else is”. That’s simply not a real answer. Knowing what your reasons are for having a presence in the social space is critical to leveraging a strategy and choosing the tactics to support your purpose. If you’re using social platforms for business, have a clearly defined purpose for doing so.

2- Know The Platform
Every social platform has an environment to respect. Spend a few weeks observing (sometimes called lurking) the behavior within the social networks. Watching the exchanges between people will give you insight into the environment of each social network. Observing also gives you insight into the micro-environments that exist, (sometimes referred to as cliques). Social platforms have an ebb and flow that is unique to their own eco-system (as I like to call it). When you know the platform, the nuances of it, and in some cases the unspoken rules of engagement, you’ll discover ways to add value to the environment.

3- Develop A Content Strategy
If I had a nickel for the number of well-intended business people who call me excited about social media, but don’t have a clue what they want to post, I’d have enough to buy the BMW 325i that I’ve had my eye on for months. While it’s acceptable to post to social networks ad hoc, having a content strategy gives a frame to your thoughts and your efforts. If you intend to use social platforms to support your business goals, then take the time to create a content strategy. A basic content strategy outlines which social networks you want to leverage, what the key topics are, how often you will post content and in what manner you want to post the content. If it seems like work, you’re right. It is!

4- Don’t Miss The Metrics
What’s the point in using a tool if you don’t measure the impact of it? If you’re using social platforms to support your business goals, then measuring your efforts is critical. What you measure will depend largely on your purpose for having a presence in the social place (see point #1). There is, however, some basic information to consider capturing. For example, measure the number of interactions, the number of inquiries, the number of mentions and the number of re-posts. This can help you determine which content gets the most traction. There are tons of software options to help you manage and monitor social media metrics and effectiveness.

5- It’s Called “Social” For A Reason
In the excitement (and the confusion) of having a presence in the social space, it’s easy to forget the most elemental component of the social space – they are social networks! People post. People tweet. People share. People read. People engage. People buy. If you’re going to have a social presence for the purpose of doing business, remember that people are not targets. People are people and they deserve to be heard, respected and valued.

5 ½- Keep the “social” in the social media.
When doing business in the social space, don’t make every post about your business. We’re all people and by nature we’re simply social.

About Olalah Njenga, YellowWood Group, LLC
Olalah Njenga is the CEO and Senior Marketing Strategist at YellowWood Group, a marketing firm that specializes in helping companies align marketing strategies with sales goals. She is also the creator of the Marketing With Ease™ System and the author of 37 What Were They Thinking Moments In Marketing. As a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), Olalah speaks nationally on business impacting topics, including strategic marketing, entrepreneurship, business planning, differentiation, social media and branding. In 2009, Olalah was honored as a Stevie® Awards Women In Business Finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category. Olalah sits on several advisory boards and serves as a volunteer counselor for SCORE. SCORE, the “Counselors of America’s Small Business Owners”, is a national association dedicated to helping small business owners form and grow their businesses.

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What are your tips for mastering the social media space?