Sunday, September 13, 2009

6 Social Media Tips that Make A Real Difference

Social Media Strategy seems very confusing and time-consuming, because most business owners and many Social Media specialists cannot separate the medium from the message. The idea of learning a new "Language" and setting up and maintaining a new account seems overwhelming to an already busy business owner. Luckily, to harness to true power of Social Media, you don't have to do anything of the sort. Here's 6 tips for you to create a powerful Social Media strategy in minutes a day. (Wow, doesn't *that* sound like a scam!)

1) Separate The Medium From The Message

Right now, Facebook and Twitter are hot. A few years ago it was MySpace and LiveJournal. Before that Open Diary, Xanga, Usenet, Mailing Lists, and way back BBSs. Social Media is not "having a Twitter Feed." Social Media is "talking with people."

2) Take A Long Look At Where You Already Hang Out

Because marketing and promotion always looks forward, few SM spcialists ask you to look at what Social Media you're *already* involved in.

Identify what spaces you inhabit. Do you have a website, a blog, a mailing list, a forum? Are you on LinkedIn? Are you a member of an association or professional network? Each one of these is a Social Medium.

3) Look At Your Social Media Spaces Honestly

You may like the fact that you have 5000 subscribers to your mailing list, but how many responses are you getting from your emails? Check the bounces...how many people are getting your emails. Most people don't bother unsubscribing from a mailing list, they just shift it into their spam filter.

Look at each space honestly. Is your time networking professionally giving you what you need from it? Is your website getting the attention it deserves from you and your staff?

Draw up a list of how much time you put into each space, versus how much you get back. Use "Low," "Medium," and "High" so you don't go crazy trying to develop comparable metrics.

4) Prioritize Your Social Media Use

It may turn out that that old mailing list you barely use is the *perfect* form of communications for you. Or there's a really active community networking group that wants exactly what you have to offer.

Don't discount the old Social Media because it's old, and don't rush to embrace the new Social Media because it's new.

It may be that the Social Media that works best for you is those adult education classes you teach which bring in new clients. Or that local business networking association, or being a vendor at the local Farmer's Market. Remember, Social Media is not just online.

5) Decide Which Social Media You Do For Fun, and Which For Business

You may decide that you really enjoy Facebook - sharing pictures, talking to friends, etc. And maybe it's a really great place for business for you. Consider before mixing the two. Depending on your industry, your business contacts really don't want to know how you spent last night.

6)Maintain Your Reputation

It's possible to mix business and pleasure - possible and doable. Just make sure that you are aware that everything you say for the one audience will be likely seen by the other, as well.

7) Hit the Boards

Now that you've decided where to focus your time, go! Start with that old dusty mailing list and ask a provocative question, or run a contest, or just tell folks where they can find you online!

Now that you've decided Friendfeed is worth it, search for people and groups that align with your business. Look for contacts on LinkedIn and follow people on Twitter. Teach classes, volunteeer your time, go to a professional association meeting. Whatever it is that will give you and your business what it needs - go after it.

Do a quick-and-dirty analysis every 6 months. Is this working? Is it fun? Am I getting back from it what I am putting into it? You may end up paring your Social Media strategy to one or two things, but when those two are high on return, then you've found your winning Social Media strategy.
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