When it comes to social media and business these days it seems that, “Everyone is doing it.” In fact, you may have already dabbled in social media a bit yourself. The question is are you really doing all you can do to make the most out of your social media strategy? Are you taking advantage of the various available platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites? Are you ready to take control and tap into the power of social media?
One of the best things about social media is that you don’t need to have a big marketing budget to benefit from the different ways that social media can propel your business. But you do need to be committed and have a strategy. If you are not going to hire a consultant to assist you, then you will need to invest the time to do things yourself, which is fine so long as you actually do it!
Since we are nearing the end of 2011, in order to get you motivated moving into 2012, I thought I would share with you a list of “Social Media Resolutions” that you should consider implementing in your 2012 marketing and brand building social media campaigns.
Resolve to Commit 15 Minutes a Day
The earliest stages of social media development will require more time to get you started. However, once your profiles are complete and you are ready to make the most out of your social media campaign, you should schedule at least some everyday to commit to social media. Use that time to add new connections, share thoughts, request recommendations, post worthy industry news links, update your status, add new photos, accept connection requests, thank those who connect with you and so forth. If you consistently devote at least 15 minutes per day, everyday, you will guarantee see positive results.
Getting Key Employees Involved
If you have many employees, you should be coaching and encouraging your key employees to get involved with social media. If you are the managing partner at a law firm, for example, determine whether your attorneys are online with LinkedIn and Twitter and whether they have a Facebook page. This is important because trusted employees, such as attorneys, provide a multiplier effect for their company or firm. The more key connections they have in social media, the greater their potential is to reach new clients through their connection’s connections. Therefore every time they reach out via social media, it is an opportunity to acquire new clients not only for themselves, but also for the firm.
Of course, it is important to set specific guidelines within your company so that employees know what is expected and what is acceptable. You should stress the importance of maintaining a professional company/firm and personal brand, reminding employees that the Internet is forever and never forgets. Consider providing training to help your employees get the most of out social media, and be sure to connect with and follow your employees profiles so you can stay abreast of what they are doing and saying.
Identifying Your Target Market
One key aspect to traditional marketing is knowing whom your target market is and how to reach them. The same holds true for social media. When you can identify your target market you can better determine what avenues you should take to reach that target audience. The biggest difference between social media marketing and traditional marketing is social media gives you a global market with which to tap. Targeting your social media will ultimately lead to more measurable results.
Balance and Perspective
There are some social media “experts” who post 10, 15, 20, 25 or more posts PER HOUR! I don’t know about you, but when I see that it seems like an assembly line of posts rather than someone trying to provide relevant information or engage members of their online community. When you post too many posts you run the risk that your followers will unfollow you or unfriend you or at the very least simply ignore all that you post. Obviously, this defeats the entire purpose.
Extending Social Media into the Real World
Social networking works best when combined with traditional in-person networking. You can use social media as a means to set up real world networking opportunities. Will you be attending a big event within your industry? Will you be hosting a seminar or setting up a booth at an industry related conference? Will you be speaking at an event? Anytime you will be going out to a professional function be sure to shout it to the world using your Tweets, Facebook page and LinkedIn. If you will be visiting another state for these functions be sure to let your connections in that state know you will be there and if time permits, try to connect with those in that area you would like most to do business with.
Productively Use Down Time
For those who travel, one of the best aspects of social media is that it is portable. Whether you are on the road for business, you are visiting family and friends or you are vacation you can access your social media profiles in multiple different applications and on the web from any mobile device.
Rather than just sitting in the airport waiting for your plane, why not take a few minutes to post a thought or reach out to some of your connections with a personal message? It only takes a few minutes and like I have said before, even in 15-minute intervals you can make an impact using social media. If you are stuck waiting for a delayed plane or it’s too noisy to do anything “substantive” why not turn it into a productive moment?
If you are not willing to devote a minimum of 15 minutes a day to social media you should at least make productive use of down time to build your network and engage your connections. Even if you only ever Tweet from your Smartphone while riding the train or update your Facebook status while waiting in line for your morning cup of Joe, it is better than nothing. My guess is, even with meager expenditure of time, you will start to reap the benefits that social media has to offer.
One of the smartest ways to tell your market what you are capable of is through the recommendations of others. Start asking people you have worked with over the years to give you a recommendation that highlights your biggest strengths and expertise. Try to acquire at least 1 recommendation for each of the companies you have worked for. Recommendations are one of the best ways to “toot your own horn” without actually tooting your own horn! Remember people like to work with people they like. But people love to work with people their friends and colleagues like and recommend.
Intellectually Interesting Content
Social Media is essentially about education. Those who post thoughtful, interesting and intellectual content are giving their followers a reason to stay connected. When choosing what to post, ask yourself first if this is information you feel your connections will learn and benefit from. Those who post constant fluff, with no substance, are more likely to loose their followers over time.
You may not think of blogging as social media, but it is. Having a blog of your own is an excellent way to show expertise and build credibility. If you do not have the time or inclination to have your own blog consider contributing a post or two or three to an existing blog, such as IPWatchdog.com! (Feel free to contact me if you have a guest contribution).
Take Charge of Security
The goal for your social media campaign is to assist you and your business in being successful. Obvious enough, right? Hopefully so. But there are those out there in the Cyber-World that love to hack into your Twitter and Facebook accounts to post messages as if they are you. In rather benign cases these message just promote some commercial product. In more malicious cases these messages can cause real damage when your friends and business connections follow links they think came from you. Certainly Twitter and Facebook do what they can to minimize malicious attacks, but nothing is foolproof and you need to participate in your own security so for one thing, you should change your passwords frequently to prevent potentially embarrassing situations.
Also, never take for granted that the security settings you choose for your profiles will remain the same day in and day out. Social media sites change their rules (some more often than others) about what they share and what is displayed as public information. Stay on top of major changes made within each of the platforms you use, even if no changes have seemingly been made in quite some time.
If you have made the decision to utilize social media for your business then you must be willing to dedicate the time and thought it takes to make social media work. As with any form of marketing, just having it is never enough. You do not have to do all ten of these things at once or even all of these things at all. Even if your goal is to simply increase traffic on your website or blog, if you are willing to devote some time to it, even in baby steps, you will likely see results.