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Social Media Strategy

If you have decided that it is time that you start to utilize social media to improve your business it is vital that you design a social media strategy before you even get started. Joining the world of social media without a proper strategy in place is like jumping into choppy seas without a life jacket. You will be tossed around with every wind that blows and will find yourself routinely being moved off course.

The first step to developing your own social media strategy is to identify what your brand’s message is and then stick to it. Part of this is done by maintaining a clear concept of what you are trying to achieve through your social media efforts. Another important part of this process is clearly identifying what you want your social media voice to be and maintaining that voice throughout your messaging efforts. While initially these may seem like they are one in the same, by examining the differences it becomes clear that they are two halves of a whole. Determining the voice of your social media efforts is like developing a character in a play. Is the character of your social media efforts going to sport a witty and comical personality? Is the voice that you present to the world going to be wise and authoritative? By determining exactly what you want the personality of your social media efforts to be before you get started you can build upon this character through every tweet you make, every Facebook post you make, and even through every YouTube video you create and upload. The voice that you create to distribute your brand’s messaging is what your social media connections will react to.

Another important step in creating your social media strategy is to engage with your audience based upon their needs. You will only gain an audience for your efforts if you become aware of what they are looking for and understand why they are tuning in to your efforts. If your socialization efforts are based strictly upon serving your own purposes chances are pretty good that your followers will tune out before long when they realize that their needs are not being met. By understanding why they are loyal to you and rewarding them for that loyalty through engaging tweets, informative posts, and an overall willingness to share of yourself and your brand you make a connection with your followers that will be hard to shake. One way to break that connection though is through dishonesty in your communications with them. This is another important element in developing your own social media strategy. No one likes a faker. Especially in the world of social media, your followers can smell a faker a mile away. If you make a mistake in your efforts be up front enough to own up to the errors of your ways and if you are creative enough, turn it around and turn it into a marketing opportunity. Share a little extra, give them a humorous poll to take, or even offer a free e-book download to the first however many that react in a humorous way to your faux pas. Social media is all about building a relationship with those that you interact with; learn how to do this effectively and you are well on your way.

Another crucial element in your social media strategy needs to be the delivery of your brand messaging. This is different than your brand’s voice, but could be considered part and parcel of the overall concept. The delivery of your brand messaging has to be in line with the needs of your followers. Whether you utilize Google Trends or Twitter’s trending topics or any other of a variety of services that monitor trends, the key is to deliver your information in a relevant and timely way. There is no use giving your followers messages related to Christmas in July. If there is a hot political story trending, then use that momentum and tie it into your messaging in a clever way and take advantage of that popularity. By watching what intrigues your social media network and using those trends to your advantage you develop a reputation as being on the ball and capable of delivering timely relevant content to their needs.

Part of delivering relevant web content is to give your followers what they need. Solve a problem, provide solutions to their inquiries, and answer the questions that your readers pose in their communications with you; that is the way to build an even stronger following over time. Give them valuable information that they can use and interact with and not just fluff that does not provide any real use to them. Make it worth their while to tune into your social media efforts and they are likely to stick with you for the long haul. Developing a social media strategy is not just about getting your message out; it is about letting the message of your followers in and then reacting to it in a productive, useful, and even funny way.

Social Media Sites

Quick Glimpse at Social Media Sites

Whether you are an internet marketer looking to capitalize on your investments or a blog owner that simply wants to engage with more readers, it is undeniable that social media is the way to do just that. With so many social media sites to choose from it can be difficult to decide which sites to focus on and which ones will deliver the results you are looking for. By examining some of the most popular social media sites currently garnering attention and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, you can make a more well-informed decision in regards to deciding where to focus your efforts. The top social media sites of 2011, in no particular order are:

Facebook the Future

If your goals are to engage with your readers and to build your brand, then Facebook ranks very well in these endeavors. It is wonderful for brand exposure and allows you to engage with your readers in both positive and negative situations. By connecting with your readers via Facebook you have the perfect opportunity to turn negative feedback into an opportunity to do better as well as to capitalize and self-promote positive feedback. Many companies have used negative feedback about them as an opportunity to “make it right” and show their commitment to customer satisfaction. While Facebook ranks well for reader engagement and brand building it does not fare so well in terms of actually redirecting readers to your website, and is poor in regard to search engine optimization. Bear these rankings in mind if you are trying to decide if Facebook is a social media channel that you want to concentrate your efforts on.

Quick Twitter

Twitter is another extremely popular social site that has seen phenomenal growth. All sorts of applications are constantly being developed to interact with the site, and many marketers are heavily involved with Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter ranks well in regard to building your brand’s exposure as well as interacting with your readers. The only condition of that interaction is that those readers themselves need to be involved in Twitter for your efforts to be worthwhile. If your target audience is not active on Twitter, then your efforts will prove less than fruitful. In terms of search engine optimization it has minimal impact and efforts to use Twitter to direct readers to your website will be directly related to whether or not you include your url in your tweets.

LinkedIn for Professionals

A social site that has garnered a great deal of attention lately is LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is excellent for building your brand it does almost nothing in regard to interacting with your readers. It does very little in terms of search engine optimization and your chances of actually redirecting readers to your website via LinkedIn are slim to none. It should not be overlooked in terms of its ability to be useful for networking but its usefulness in this regard needs to be weighted against its shortcomings in the other areas. Use it to connect with other like minded individuals and organizations but do not expect it to drive readers or customers to your site.

YouTube for Web Video

Another site that is gaining massive attention lately is YouTube. While not a website that you would normally think of as a social media site, it is actually one of the top performers in terms of reader interaction. While its ability to redirect readers to your site is only fair, it earns top marks for brand building, search engine optimization, and customer interaction. The key with YouTube is to keyword effectively any descriptions you place on your YouTube channel and then cross promote from your website to your YouTube channel and vice versa. This linking from one to another is one of the keys to successfully have your readers interact with both.

StumbleUpon for Popularity

StumbleUpon ranks well in terms of search engine optimization and is excellent for directing traffic to your site, but is abysmal in terms of creating an interaction with your readers. It does not rank much higher in terms of branding either. The randomness of the site makes it less than persuasive at building a solid brand. If you want to capture the interest of new readers it is definitely a site to take a look at but temper your efforts with it based upon the results that it will send your way.

Tumblr for Bloggers

Another up and comer in the social media game is Tumblr. While its results in directing traffic to your site are going to be less than stellar, it ranks well in all other areas. It is great for search engine optimization, wonderful for brand building, and excellent at customer interaction.

Digg and Reddit for Interactivity

While they are not necessarily major players in the social media game, both Digg and Reddit have their fans. They are definitely worth at least checking out, but efforts on both of these sites should be tempered by the knowledge that they are not necessarily the most popular or the most recognizable socially.

No matter which social sites you choose to use it is always advisable to monitor and be cognizant of your return on investment. Becoming involved in social media can be highly addictive so being aware of time spent versus results obtained should always be a factor in terms of how much time you spend on these sites. Know what they can do for you, but also be aware of their limitations too.