Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting started with Social Media

It's been a while since I did a "tips" column on the blog, and everyone seems to be talking (or tweeting) about social media (SM) these days. So I thought it would be a good time to publish some tips for companies that are getting ready to go Social.

1. Understand online personae - keep in mind that your customers may not find it appropriate to connect with you on Facebook. Perhaps following your Twitter feed or subscribing to a newsletter/blog makes more sense. People, especially in business, frequently maintain multiple online personalities. If active in social media, they understand the value of keeping personal and work, or even corporate and independent interests separate. Example: profile on LinkedIn versus Facebook

2. Go where your customers and prospects are - remember, the Internet is a searcher/buyer medium. Your strategy should include ways to "be found", rather than to reach out and find people proactively. Examples: SEO for google/yahoo, topic-driven searches, robust search-friendly online content.

3. Use humor when you can - nearly every viral campaign with outstanding results includes some element of humor. Find ways to poke fun at yourself. Examples: Blendtec's Will it Blend, and other YouTube phenomena

4. Open a channel to listen - chances are, people are talking about your product and/or company. Listen and respond to those people, or your competitors will. Examples: follow a group of customers/prospects on Twitter (passive), Salesforce.com "ideas" function (community building)

5. Devote time and resources to a social media plan. Even if it is a small scale effort, it will take attention from a marketing manager to implement and adapt. If you don't have the internal expertise, get advice or help from outside. Make sure your plan clearly articulates your objective for using social media. It will come in handy when you need to explain it to others, and helps you stay focused on why you're entering the SM space. Example: contact me (link at right) with your info and I'll email you a one-pager.

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