By Jon Rognerud
What is the hottest social media tool to emerge on the scene this year? It’s ‘Twitter’, and you may get hooked too…
I recently came back from a fully packed conference on social media marketing, the Danny Sullivan SMX show in Long Beach, CA, and all-the-rage was Twitter, a micro-blogging platform that many at first (typically) considered a ‘joke’ or maybe just a temporary fad. They (we) were all wrong, but most agreed that using any tool or technique without a reasonable strategy was a missed opportunity.
But, let’s not be too quick – learn how to research & leverage the social media space with planning and execution along the way.
I’ll show you that micro blogging and the other tools and platforms in this short SMM guide are things you might consider for your important social media marketing.
Furthermore, SMM can provide quality traffic, you can minimize the often laborious time by a little planning and it is possible to market into B2B marketplaces. It’s not just for kids anymore.
What is it?
“Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing which seeks to achieve branding and marketing communication goals through the participation in various social media networks”. Social Media is a shorter top level term that describes the space overall, and covers the activities around social interaction, content, videos, images and audio exposure.
Where to start?
Many of us are so excited about the technology and web (hence my somewhat trite opening), that we forget key pieces to success: definition of business goals, objectives and overall process for execution. The old “fail to plan, plan to fail” comes to mind. While you need to create the roadmap for your online business – you must certainly decide on what goals and resulting metrics you want to attain.
Social media marketing can help you increase the activity around these top goals:
- Website traffic and user behavior (external and internal tracking)
- Conversion and sales tracking
- Page views, ad exposure
- Growing brand awareness (a softer value, takes longer to build)
- Creating a positive brand association and keeping it there (see also reputation management)
- Business development and a broader customer reach
How can you create and convert all this activity with social media?
Since the social web allows you to interact with others, create and promote content that can get links and viral attraction, you can – with the right strategy – reach key influencers using this medium. We all know what blogs alone can do, and they are pretty search engine friendly out of the box.
Social media expansion is important because this provides foundations for broader / faster mindshare, along with supporting your search engine marketing objectives. You *can* convert traffic if you target appropriately (research needed), and do not spam. Read each point below to get a deeper understanding.
Tip #1 – Assistance:
Limit talking about yourself, at least initially – provide ways to help others instead. This is probably the most important tip in the social media workplace. Say you are building your new del.icio.us profile, make sure to bookmark other useful resources and sprinkle yourself lightly. It’s about “them”, not “you”. Don’t forget this important rule!
Tip #2 – Process:
Don’t become a “me too” – establish a process and goals for how to get there. I recommend reading 5 pillars for one, and much like SEO programs that have a process (keyword research, competitive review, content analysis, etc), build out a similar map. Too many companies dive in too fast, with no real plan and they are simply peeing in the pool, and no good results come from that.
Tip #3 – Contribute:
Be the one to create (quality) content. While community is Queen in Social Media, quality content is still King, and always will be. Studies show that people are reading much online, but a much smaller group is contributing content. This can mean good opportunities for you.
Tip #4 – Connect:
Reach out to the influencers in your niche, be polite, honest, sincere, and you’d be amazed what brand advocates can do for you.
Tip #5 – Position:
Position yourself in front of consumers’ passions. It can and will create a powerful outcome for your brand.
Tip #6 – Blog:
Make sure you have setup a blog. These numbers are not to be overlooked. I think Technorati is tracking over 110 million blogs now, and growing at a furious pace, even excluding splogs (spam blogs).
Tip #7 – Links:
Don’t be afraid to link out to other blogs and websites in general. Links are what search engines and users make good use of – and search engines would not survive without them. Give others the love too.
Tip #8 – Videos:
Video consumption is growing fast. Create a “how to…” or “top tips…” videos and submit to YouTube. It has wide reach, and you could have millions of people see it. For even wider distribution, you should try tubemogul.com or vidmetrix.com, tools to help automate. In generating all content, make sure to keep #1 rule in check. It’s fine to brand with a URL at the end of the video, but no direct selling. Humor, controversy and weird stuff works very well, keep that in mind – don’t be afraid to test.
Tip #9 – Technorati:
You said you have a blog, right? Claim your blog at Technorati. This will ensure you are indexed in their search engines for blogs and updates are broadcast across the network, along with your own blog network updates. This happens behind the scenes from automatic “pings”.
Tip #10 – Analytics:
Open an account from list below, use your brand name as identifier. This will establish your brand or company name, and not let anybody else assume or steal your personality so easily. Then, work with one or two from the list below to start, and don’t go too fast. Look at your web analytics and track referring domains and review traffic movements daily, weekly.
Tip #11 – Feeds/Research:
Subscribe to feeds, and use iGoogle, My Yahoo Web or other favorite RSS readers. Watch for changes (use Google.com/alerts also), and be the first to comment and engage in your topic. First commenters often get more visibility and traction.
Tip #12 – MicroCommunities:
Locate and join microcommunities – they are social communities that are relevant to your business. Some examples are education.com, nowpublic.com, travbuddy.com, gardenweb.com, shoetube.com, yelp.com and care2.com (non profits). It is much easier to have your voice heard in these and similar markets, than trying a post to Digg that may go nowhere. Those are the perfect places for the “big fish in a small pond” rule. Create highly relevant and linkworthy content, research what others are writing about, and connect with the top players and influencers.
Tip #13 – Submit:
Review the resources below, and consider building out profiles over time. If you submit content, make sure it’s useful, unique and that the title of your post stands out. Pick one or two resources to start, and don’t overextend yourself. Some of the top social marketers in the industry spend 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. This is a lot of manual (social) labor, but you don’t have to go at it that hard. Make sure to ask friends to vote or comment on your postings, befriend others, but no spam. Make intelligent posts and do not have your company employees post from the same location (IP Address). The submission(s) will most likely be rejected, and worst case, your account blocked or suspended.
Tip #14 – Hosting:
Have a good hosting provider. If traffic spikes come, and your server instrastructure cannot handle it, you are toast. You don’t want a Digg server melt-down (fun pic). Here’s a first hand story and how to deal with it.
Tip #15 – Monitoring:
If you want to save time monitoring across many resources within the social networks, try the new Yahoo Pipes, it’s a social monitoring desktop in a browser.
Your Top Social Media Starter Resources (not necessarily in order of importance):
- Twitter *See more below – specific for twitter
- Facebook (download toolbar)
- YouTube (toolbar exists, but have not tried)
- Del.icio.us (download toolbar)
- StumbleUpon (download toolbar)
- LinkedIn (tip: use the Q/A section to gain readership and clients)
- Secondlife (3D)
- Meneame (spanish, translate title and synopsis before posting)
- Tip: Subscribe (RSS) to Techcrunch!
Twitter bonus: (Thanks GrayWolf)
Web Browser Plugin: twitterfox
Desktop: twhirl, alertthingy
Blog Tools: loud twitter
Email: twittermail ((abc…@twittermail) – cool tip: schedule to post when you are not online)
Phones: twitterberry (BlackBerry), itweet (iPhone)
Other: tweetscan (alerts, keyword, user search)
Competitor: Pownce.com – check it out along with friendfeed.com
About Jon Rognerud
Jon Rognerud is a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant in Los Angeles, and is the founder of www.chaosmap.com. His new internet marketing book was launched in April 2008, the “Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization”, currently on Amazon and available in bookstores nationwide.