You cannot pick up a newspaper, watch a tv show, read a magazine, or attend a conference without seeing “social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube” splattered everywhere. With the current exponential growth of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I think we can all agree that social media is here to stay. What was first considered primarily a non-business tool, has quickly turned traditional marketing upside down. So what has changed?
I think one catalyst for the popularity of social media platforms is the current economy. Every business is looking for new ways to to communicate with the very frugal and cautious consumer. The fact is all of the major social networking sites are free, and people are continuing to sign-up! More interestingly, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and Twitter are people 35 and older, which is quite often the most desired age group for businesses. According to iStrategyLabs, Facebook’s 55+ demographic grew by 24.9% in August alone.
Where should I start?
- First, you need to incorporate your social media strategy as part of your overall marketing strategy. Remember social media is only a communication tool, its not your actual strategy. You first need to have very clear goals for your company or association (i.e. I want to increase our client base by 25%, or add 1,000 new members by year-end).
- Determine which social media marketing platforms will help you meet your goals. You are now going to need to have an understanding of the most common social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace. There are many more, but lets just focus on the fastest growing platforms, which would be Facebook and Twitter. If your main customers are other businesses, you will want to add LinkedIn. I should also mention that LinkedIn is a great tool for you to use to keep track of all your connections, so every business owner, consultant, etc.. should have a LinkedIn account.
- Determine which other tools will support your social media platform choices. There are many tools out there that can help feed your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts with great content. If you have photo’s of your product or service in action, you should open a Flickr account, and populate it with your photo’s (you may also want to consider opening a Picasso account as well). If you have any video’s (or plan on making videos), you must open a YouTube account (you may also want to also open a Viddler & Vimeo). You should have a blog, I like WordPress, but Blogger is also another popular one. If you have presentations, get a Slideshare.net account. The fact is people love multimedia, according to MediaWeek, rich media ads that featured video excelled in most branding categories, including awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent.
- Set it up first! The first thing you need to do before doing a public launch is to spend sufficient time setting up each platform. This may sound like an quick task, but it’s actually very time consuming. For each platform and tool you’re going to need to have a consistent user feel (theme), so they know this is the official company (or association) site. You’re going to want your logo in the same place, ensure the “about me” or “bio” sections are completed, along with web links to all of your sites. By the time you are done, you will have a network of sites that are all linking to one another (this is great for SEO, since Google likes links!). You’ll also need to install and configure all of the platforms applications (i.e. if you are using Facebook and have YouTube video’s, you’ll need to add the Facebook app so they can be published on your Facebook fan page).
Platform Specific Tips:
Facebook: If you have a Twitter account, get the Facebook’s new Twitter app. For linking your YouTube videos try YouTube VideoBox or YouTube Box. If you have Slideshare.net presentations, you can use the Slideshare app. You can link your blogs RSS feeds with the Simply RSS app.
Twitter: I like Tweetdeck to keep an eye on all of my Twitter accounts, and it gives me the ability to segment my followers into groups. I use HootSuite for a variety of reason’s: it lets me schedule tweets, the Hootlet app lets me quickly tweet out webpages I visit, I can link by blogs RSS feeds and tweet them out, multiple people can manage my accounts (great for a business). You can also check out one of my earlier posts for more Twitter Tips.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is behind in the apps game, you can find the limited number of apps they have available in their Apps section. If you have a Slideshare.net account, you can link it to LinkedIn. If you use Wordpress for your blog, you can link it here so people can see it on your LinkedIn home page. LinkedIn also allows you to link your Google Doc’s presentations.
Blogs: Wordpress has many plugin’s that you can use to easily link your tweets, YouTube Video’s, Slideshare presentations, and other multi-media content. In the Wordpress Plugin area, just search for the program to plug-in to your website.
Multi-Platform Tools: You’ll notice that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn all have “status updates,” well there is a good tool called Ping.fm that will allow you to update all your status’ at once.
I hope you all have a much better understanding on which social media tools you should be incorporating in your marketing strategy!
Cheers, Jeff Russell