So You’re Not Getting the Whole Social Media Thing – Part 2
S ocial media is a revolution in communication that has leveled the media field. No longer does traditional media have a monopoly on news. Remember, news no longer breaks on CNN or FOX; it breaks on Twitter. So understanding how to effectively use this medium is essential, not only for business success, but also for career success.
Since social media is crucial for business today, having a social media presence that is more than just a “Hey, look at what I ate;” “Look at how much weight I lost,” or “I just saw a great movie!” presence is important. You want to create a blog on whatever your career expertise is, build a following, and garner credibility and trust. After all, you are a product in the market place and a company is buying your product when they hire you. If your product is not NEW and IMPROVED, you lose! A company is looking for people who know how to use this medium effectively, so they can add value to the company.
Last week we covered the first five (5) things to consider (to read part-1, click here):
1. Why people use social media
2. The importance of interaction
3. The 80/20 rule on content
4. Groups for target marketing: others and yours
5. Know what time is best for posting your content
Here are the remaining five (5), plus one as a bonus:
1. Your message: the Blog
2. Track your progress and growth
3. Automate – but not too much
4. Choose a strategy and create measurable goals
5. Manage the experience
6. Know when to hire a professional
So let’s get started!
Your Message: The Blog
Never before in history could a brand (and make no mistake, whether you’re a business or a career person, you are a brand) had the ability to communicate with the world without giving up creative license. In the past, if you were lucky enough to have a newspaper pickup your press release or opinion editorial (Op Ed), they would edit it to either a) fit the space available, or b) fit THEIR readers.
Today, you can communicate your message, unadulterated, to the masses through your blog. Plus, using article banks (like Ezine Articles, Article Trader and Article Alley, to name a few) you are able to reach beyond just the social-media sphere. Now with that said, just because you have the liberty to have a blog, does not mean anyone will read it. You are competing against all other blogs for the time and attention of the public. So your blog MUST be well-written, captivating, entertaining and offer value. Always remember that time is more important than money; you can get more money, but you cannot buy more time. So if you write a blog that is self-serving, salesy, with improper grammar and punctuation, or with misspelled words; you will lose in the court of public opinion. And while you MAY get a second chance with some, you won’t with most. You see, first impressions count. If your introduction is not very good, they won’t bother to read anything else they see attached to your name or brand.
So make sure you proof well; test it with a circle of close friends and associates, and if it passes muster, then post it for the world to see. Keep in mind that tips, how-to articles and case studies pull the most. After all, people are looking for help and information. Plus, if you can write it in a way to also entertain (with wit, analogies, a conversational tone, etc.) then you will hit a home run.
Track Your Progress and Growth
If you don’t measure it, how do you know if you’re being effective? You have to know! You can do this the manual way, or you can automate.
The manual way would be to create a spreadsheet and track what you posted, when you posted it and how many comments, likes, shares and retweets you received. This will tell you what pulls, the interest of your audience and what does not.
You also want to track your numbers. How many people are friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn, following you on Twitter and have you in circles on Google+: in both, your personal account and group. On Twitter, you will want to see how many lists you belong to as well. A list on Twitter is similar to a group on LinkedIn or Facebook. Except that people choose to add you to their lists, if they feel you share quality and value, so their people see your tweets. What this means to you is that you can extend your reach to OTHER people’s networks, by simply making sure you share good stuff.
You can choose to automate, which is what I would recommend. There are suites like HootSuite and TweetDeck that not only allow you to measure your growth and stats, but also allows you to automate your posts. Choose wisely, though, as many have come and gone, as you can see at FitSmallBusiness.com’s article, Social Media Management Graveyard.
Automate, but NOT too much!
Automation has its place; but nothing replaces human interaction. So good things to automate would be your posts and certain greetings, if you can make sure they insert the first name of the person. Never use “Dear Friends” or anything generic. Whenever I get a reply that is obviously generic and automated, I delete it and I’m not alone. You should reply to comments, questions and interactions personally. People need to know that you’re real, caring and reachable.
Choose a Strategy and Create Measurable Goals
Sales leads is not the only strategy. There is customer service, reputation management, credibility and trust, traffic to your website for SEO purposes and leads, or a combination thereof. For instance, if your strategy is to build credibility and trust, which is measured by how many likes and shares your content receives and followers you garner – since your content sits on your website, it also drives traffic. So know what your goal is and measure it.
If it’s reputation management, is the bad stuff being pushed down? How far has it moved? If it’s customer service, are your phones ringing less and are complaints down (which also helps with trust and credibility)? You will adjust accordingly and maybe even change the game once certain metrics have been met; but you need to know.
Manage the Experience
This is a crucial part! You see, if the experience is sub-par, they may not read your content. While your message is the MOST important aspect, you have to get your visitor past the aesthetics of your website.
Steve Jobs was the master of cultivating the experience. Steve understood that everything mattered, not just any one part. From the outside of the product, functionality, advertising, website, packaging, instructions, store, etc. In an article titled, For Steve Jobs, it was about the user experience, Jay Bookman states, “What Apple did better than any other technology company, and perhaps better than any other company of any type, was to put the user experience first.”
The same applies to you and your brand. What you write, your logo, the content you share, your website, your product, service or book; it must all reflect the very best you can make it. Understand that good enough won’t cut it, not when there are so many options to choose from. For tips on how to make sure your website is the best it can be, read What Makes a Good Website.
Know When to Hire a Professional
You need to do an honest evaluation of your entire marketing footprint: logo, website, social media branding, content, etc. and decide what needs to be changed. Then you need to decide if this is something you can do or should outsource.
Since we are the worst people to critique our own work (since we probably created it and took ownership, we tend to be biased), you may want to ask several of your colleagues, friends and associates for their input. Ask them to tell you what they think about your website Et al, when it comes to look and feel, navigation and layout. Is it friendly and does it pull them in, or does it make them want to leave after a little bit? Ask if the content is interesting and makes them want to read it completely, or do they find themselves losing interest and wanting to jump to the end?
Finally, look at your Google Analytics report. If you see plenty of traffic and a high bounce rate, then you are doing a good job of getting them there, but you’re losing them with the experience.
Marketing is part science and part art. Anyone can learn the mechanical parts of the process; however, humans aren’t mechanical. The mechanical only serves to make sure your message is present where it needs to be; the art part is what either attracts or repels. So when in doubt, ask yourself, “Would this interest me? Would it attract me if I came across it in social media? Would I want to read it?” If you’re honest with your assessment, you will fix what needs fixing and have a successful campaign.