Social Media Strategy
Jim Gibson - Publishing Partner, Online Media Today
By Jim Gibson - Publishing Partner, Online Media Today

Clearly, most businesses realize they need to get moving on a social media campaign or risk being left behind.  These days, pretty much everyone knows about Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn and most businesses have at least dipped their toe in the proverbial online marketing waters.  But unfortunately for some, that’s where it all stops.

Social Media
The easy part is signing up for the desired social network, poking around a bit, posting a few updates, sharing photos and friending close contacts.  But this is only the beginning and there’s a whole lot more you’ll need to do if you plan on achieving success in social media engagement.    

We often hear from business owners who ask “what should I do to push my social media campaign to the next level?”.  Confused, distracted, discouraged and ultimately alienated, many business owners go through a series of emotions that are not uncommon to the first-time social mediasts.  Don’t worry though.  You are not alone!

Social Media Community
The problem with most articles we read from social media experts is they give you lots of tools to use but rarely give readers a real plan of how to use the tools.

This blog article provides a starting point for companies new to social media and provides a way to plan an effective strategy to launch your business to the next level.  As we continue expanding on the topic in our blog, we will continue to add daily processes to this list to give you a great overall strategy to help manage your regular social networking efforts.

ABC's of Social Media
We’ll start with a very easy way to jump start your social media campaign.  The idea of this strategy is to focus on building relationships. Not just any relationship, but connections with people who can really help your business grow.  The fundamental concept behind successful social media engagement is firmly rooted in the relationship factor.  Without a strong desire to build meaningful relationships, your social media campaign will be critically flawed.

I have broken these elements down into phases that represent the application of a logical and progressive social media campaign.  Let’s assume, for the moment, that you have already created your Twitter, FaceBook (including your company Fan Page) and LinkedIn accounts.

The next thing you’ll need to put into practice the strategy described below is a bit.ly account.  Bit.ly is a free URL shortener that allows users to create shorter URLs so as not to take up valuable real estate in your social networking updates.  NOTE TO EXPERTS: we realize there are a ton of social media aggregators that not only integrate bit.lys into their service but also provide a single point for multiple update postings, however, for the sake of this article, we are going to keep it simple.  We’ll show you later how to use more advanced aggregator services to post updates across a wide variety of social networks.

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Exercise I:

For this exercise, you will be using the following websites and applications:

Bit.ly, Selected Blog(s), Technorati, Twitter, FaceBook Fan Page – NOTE: it’s best to create a free Bit.ly account since it remembers what you typed in and tracks important click data for each URL you shorten.

Exercise:

1.     Go to Technorati and search for blogs that relate to your industry, subject matter or specific interest.

2.     Pick 2-3 bloggers from the list of the top blogs found at Technorati

3.     Browse the current blog posts on each and pick 1 interesting article from each

4.     Comment on the blog post.  Try to make it relevant, stimulating and complimentary – above all be genuine.  In addition, tell the blogger you liked the article so much you re-Tweeted it to your Twitter network.  And, make sure to add your contact information or your website URL in your signature. Examples may be: email address, Twitter ID, website address, FaceBook Fan page URL, etc.  The blog may not put this information in your post but it’s always a good practice to tell the world who you are.

5.     While you are on the blog, make sure to follow them on Twitter.  Also make sure to add them to your Twitter “Favorites” and Twitter Lists.  They'll likely follow you back.

6.     Copy and paste the two blog posts URLs to bit.ly and create a short URL for each.

7.     Go to Twitter and Tweet each blog post.  Try to avoid adding just the Bit.ly link only or re-stating the title of the blog post (that will likely appear automatically).  Instead, since you read and processed the article content, create a value added comment that summarizes (be brief!) what you think the article is trying to say.  This gives you a great opportunity to attach additional credibility to your update.  Once your preferred blogger follows you back, you may want to send them a quick update (@blogger) to let them know you are sharing their tweets with your followers.

8.     Go to FaceBook Fan page and post the same thing for your Fans to read (NOTE: later on, we are going to show you how to create a shortcut using a free service called “Involver and adding it to your Fan page so that you will be able to eliminate step 6.. a great way to reduce your time!)

9.     Check your Twitter “FAVORITES” each day to see what bloggers are Tweeting and pick a few Tweets to respond to (directly to blogger using the @bloggername).  Try to engage in a meaningful way and above all, take off your sales hat and DO NOT SELL!  This is not the time for your elevator pitch.

10.  Re-Tweet bloggers Tweets to your own Twitter network.

Repeat these steps every few days and before you know it, you've built a few quality relationships.  As you get more comfortable, pick a few more bloggers in your space and before you know it, voila! you have a bunch more great relationships!

Blog
Here’s a fundamental truth: Bloggers love to be recognized for what they do.  It’s really an ego-driven effort and the more you genuinely interact with them, the more they will remember you.  Once you have a relationship established and the trust is there, then, and only then, should you talk about what you do.  Don’t worry.  It will come naturally.  Just like a regular conversation with a new friend.  Listen, ask about them, and tell them you care.   Once you have the relationship, it’s up to you how to use it to help your business grow.

That’s it!  You have started an action plan.  Basic?  Yes.  Can it be economized even further?  Yes, indeed.  But this is truly the most simple way to start building valuable relationships with the people who really matter to your business; the ones who are already talking about your industry, product or service.


About the Author:

Jim Gibson is a certified search engine marketing professional and serial entrepreneur.  In addition to Online Media Today, Jim is a principal at GibSEM Group (http://www.gibsem.com) and has founded several internet properties including online B2C directory, Service Omni, Inc. (http://www.serviceomni.com) and QuakeDog, Inc. (www.quakedog.com), a network marketing company focused on the sale of personal survival gear.  You can reach Jim at: jgibson@gibsem.com or follow him @GibSEM.
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2/11/2011 11:03:05 pm

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8/9/2012 07:28:23 pm

Social media is a helping hand for a business owner to promote business product and services.

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