John D Leavy of InPlainSite marketing has written a great article over on Entrepreneur.com
Here’s a summary (and fleshing out in some cases) of the points I find particularly relevant to business owners looking at Social Media Marketing.
Firstly, why are you using (or considering using) social media in your business marketing?
Is it purely to smooth your ego? Are you keen to collect followers and “friends” just so you can brag about the numbers? Does it follow then that you are just a little dismissive of the need to engage? Does the actual process of listening to what’s going on and then finding a way to make a valid and valuable contribution seem just a little bit too touchy feely for you, and, if you’re honest, does it seem unnecessary? These are danger signs – connecting to, following or friending just anyone who will have you, not only dilutes your influence (and there are influence police watching your every move – both real people and monitoring software, if you care about those things) – it dilutes your standing among those in your audience who might really be interested in what you say.
Or are you one of those who is joining in because you feel you must. You’ve spent a few days setting up your profiles – had a play – but other things are calling you. Your social media profiles are soon abandoned!
John D Leavy of InPlainsite Marketing makes a solid point:
“The real motivation for any business social networker is connection: You should want to connect with like-minded people who can help your business and whose businesses you can assist. You want to add to the conversation, and not come across as desperate, spammy or a waste of time. If you develop a bad reputation in these communities, it will be hard to shake off.”
Never a truer word… and, as he elaborates, making such strong, real connections takes time, effort and thoughtfulness. And this is the art of good, meaningful social media activity. If you never return to your profiles, you and your business will be forgotten (best case) or seen as unconnected, clueless or lazy (worst case). If you post too much, people might consider you a pest and stop following you. So how do you get this right?
Again, as John D Leavy says,
“Whether your company is a one-person business or a large organisation, your commitment to social networking should be consistent, compelling and informative. The social networking community is a fragile, collaborative ecosystem. Make the commitment. People will follow a trail of dependable, exciting, instructive news. But once the trail goes cold, they’re gone and likely never to return.”
On the other hand, there’s no value in being the social media nutter who cannot bear to be offline for longer than 10 seconds. You know who we’re talking about! These people can answer emails on their laptops, watch their Twitter stream on their ipads, whilst posting on Facebook from their iPhones, and uploading photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube 😉 They are incapable of having a conversation that is not online – eyes averted every 5 seconds from your face to some screen or other… good technology gone bad! I am still amazed at the amount of time people have for the social media platforms at the weekends – for me, that’s family time.
The key is to strike a balance somewhere in the middle. You don’t have to be invisible – and you don’t have to be irritating! Develop a social networking schedule that does not run your life but does keep you accountable. The goal should be consistency. Choose a schedule and stay the course for at least six months. As you find success, you can adapt & develop – initially this may well be better done by freelance social media manager working towards a handover to your internal staff when the time is right.
The sample social networking agenda below can be used as a springboard for designing one that suits your schedule and the social networks you’ve identified as relevant to your market.
Twice Daily in the Morning and Afternoon
- Check Twitter. Respond when necessary. Follow the @replies that make sense. Do this more often if you can but research the times when your audience are most likely to be there.
- Check LinkedIn. Reply to emails and comments when appropriate. Answer Invitations to connect.
- Scan Twitter followers for relevant conversations to join. Do this more often if you can but research the times when your audience are most likely to be there.
- Check your Facebook Page for questions and respond when necessary.
- Scan Google Alerts for brand and company mentions. Respond as appropriate.
- Check competitor activity and monitor other alerts you’ve set up.
- Check alerts for blog opportunities and write a blog if the opportunity to connect current events to your business arrises.
Weekly or on Weekends
- Build Twitter Lists to better organize ongoing discussions and special interest groups. Set up saved searches to find out if people are talking about you or your company, or subjects of interest to your business.
- Scan LinkedIn questions from network connections and respond when appropriate.
- Catch up on LinkedIn discussions. Add to discussion when appropriate.
- Send LinkedIn invitations to connect with clients when beginning a new assignment.
- Ask for LinkedIn recommendation after successfully completing a project or engagement.
- Add new content to Facebook like videos or photos.
- Add new video to YouTube
- Think of ways to repurpose this content and energy to reach a larger audience.
- Keep an eye open for new social networking venues, tools, and functionality that will make the social networking experience more enjoyable and easier for your customers to find and connect with you.
- Identify new social networking influencers and build relationships where appropriate.
Through the Week
- Mondays: Schedule tweets through HootSuite to go at regular intervals – you will have to be on Twitter around those times to check for responses and engagement.
- Join one hot trend conversation on Twitter, if appropriate.
- Daily: Respond to blog comments.
- Fridays: Check traffic at your blog or website. Tracl the links you’ve used – what works and what doesn’t? Adapt next week’s content on that basis!
Obviously, your daily social networking to-do list needs to fit in to your available time and commitments. Just be sure to make the schedule workable. If it’s not working for you, change it. Keep making modifications until it works for you. And if you can’t find the time to do the suggested activities, consider using a social media manager who will make this happen for you – either by recruiting or using an agency. Our clients are paying a fraction of the cost of a full time employee by making the most of outsourced social media management. It’s an option open to you, if you want to use professional marketing people who understand how to make the most of the social media platforms.