If I had a dollar for everyone who nonchalantly said to me, “We want to do social media marketing,” I’d be able to buy … well, at least a cool pair of biking socks. Now that we all know social media is here to stay, it’s time to figure out how to do it right.
Three Types of early adopters
Looking back at the rise of the social Internet, we’ve seen a few types of people emerge:
Those who jumped in head first, created profiles on every new platform ever invented and started posting, tweeting, sharing and liking anything and everything – because, hey, it’s all FREE. In the buzz of activity they quickly lost sight of their overarching business goals and social media objectives. Social became a popularity contest that was all about quantity. (Last week, Ireviewed the ebook, Twitter 101, that addresses the quality over quantity debate.)
Then there were those who decided to sit back and wait for the social media trend to die so they wouldn’t have to be bothered with all the fuss. Eventually, the whole idea of social media became so intimidating that they didn’t know where to start.
Finally there were a few who thought it best to wade in slowly, carefully evaluating the functionality, benefits and ROI of their invested time. Looking more closely at this group reveals 5 important lessons:
1. Understand your goals
Start by defining your overarching business goals then break down your objectives by social platform. Understanding who your target audience is and which social sites they frequent is crucial to setting your goals in each platform.
2. Take stock of your resources
All those divers who proclaimed social media was free, quickly realized that their time was not and engaging via social media takes time – everyday – not once a week or whenever you come across something cool you’d like to share – everyday. And be wary of pushing off your social media tasks to an inexperienced $10/hour intern when your reputation and branding is at stake.
3. Develop a strategic plan
Most social media plans involve a content marketing strategy. As you construct your stories in blogs, images, videos, ebooks, etc. don’t lose sight of those goals and objectives you defined at the outset. And always stay focused on your target market. (Search Engine Watch outlines how to create a strategic plan in more detail.)
Social media is a two-way conversation. Encourage your audience to contribute. Give them a connection to you or your brand. Respond to their comments and questions. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn about your audience and their interaction with your products or services.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges if you haven’t completed step one. But if you understand your goals, you can then determine your KPIs and select appropriate measurement tools.
Using Google Analytics as a measurement tool
I can’t resist concluding with a final tip on leveraging an invaluable tool sometimes overlooked when measuring social media impact. Several weeks ago, I sat down with my colleague and Google Analytics whizz, Ethan Hinson to figure out how to measure the number of clicks a client was getting on their social media share widgets. Even though Google has recently added new social data to their analytics, their reports still need a bit of tweaking. After some digging and tapping, Ethan created a custom report in GA that measures exactly what we were looking for. (It’s really convenient working for a Google Analytics Certified Partner.) Taking the time to find the right tool is key to measuring your goal performance.
As the social Internet continues to mature, I’m sure we’ll see new tools emerge leading to new ways of thinking. But if you follow the realist path, your social media efforts and tactics will be solidly grounded.