Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Step by Step Social Media Guide for Brands

Most brands and companies have at least dipped their feet in the waters of social media at this point, but if they haven't it can be daunting for them to start. First, social media is confusing for those that aren't intimately involved in it. There are thousands of communication platforms, a set of new languages and some technical skills required. Second, the brands that aren't using social media are behind the curve and therefore might feel like they can't catch up.

There is no doubt that your brand's social media experience should be completely unique. It should depend on your service/produce, your audience, your goals, your budget and many other variables. With that said, this list is meant to provide a general guideline on what needs to be done to truly leverage social media:

1. Monitor And Listen

This is a vital step. You have to listen to your communities of interest. You need to figure out what they're saying about you and your competitors, as well as determining where they are saying it. Is there a large contingency on Facebook, or is the bulk of you audience congregating on Ning? Are they on 7 different platforms?

Listening can be time consuming or costly (depending on your choice of monitoring method), but as I said before it is vital. Monitoring enables your brand to go straight into a strategy with insight and intelligence. It removes a large part of the guess and check of social media.

If you have no budget, you can start with Google alerts about key terms. If you have a budget their are great monitoring tools out there ranging in price from a few dollars a month to a few thousand dollars a month. The price range is affected by the level of insight you are getting from the monitoring company. If you're looking into hiring a monitoring company or licensing their program, I highly recommend one that provides both quantitative and qualitative insights.

2. Develop A Strategy

Now that you know what your target audience is saying and where they are saying, it is time to put a plan in place. Do you want to build a Twitter account, create a blog, comment on popular sites in existence? These are all questions you have to ask.

In addition to the action items, it must be determined who will be doing the social media work internally. It is pointless and potentially harmful to create social media landing pages and profiles for your brand if the content and engagement isn't going to continue. You should figure out ahead of time who will be in charge of the accounts and consumer interactions moving forward.

3. Construct Your Landing Pages

Now it is time to take action. You've done your due diligence, you've decided on the plan and who will be in charge, it is time to set up your landing page(s) and/or profiles. Most social media platforms are pretty easy to set up. This is even more true of social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and several others. Video/photo sharing channels, Ning accounts, discussion board account, and social bookmarking accounts are also easy to create. Blogs are a little more difficult. The most basic blogs are fairly easy on blogger, wordpress and typepad. If you want to get creative with your blog you might want to seek the help of a knowledgable source.

4. Establish Your Social Media Point Of View

Okay so you have the landing pages or profiles. Now yo have to put up content. Whether is is a blog post, a tweet or something else, you have to produce regular content. This will prove to your audience that you're there to stay, while showing them what value they will be getting from you.

5. Network And Engage

After you've posted content regularly for some time, you need to network with people in your audience. Reach out to the most influential people, share your posts with other sites in your industry and register your Twitter account or blog on directory sites.

It is also key to engage your audience through these communication channels. Ask them questions, respond to inquiries, talk about the things they post about and anything else that might fit.

This is just a basic layout. If you want to get a little more detailed or have critiques of this social media to-do list please reach out and let me know.


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Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.


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