Sunday, January 10, 2010

3 Developmental Tactics For Your Growing Social Media Presence

In our last post, we dealt with 4 basic tactics for a Social Media Presence in the early stages of Development. Building Your Reputation, Your Audience, Your Knowledge Base, and Your Network are all critical at every stage but, before you even have a thing to promote you should be working on those four Building Blocks.

After you've been online for a while, you are going to want to take a step forward. At this stage, you have a level of comfort with your tools and are ready to push yourself, your business and your network to the next level. You might be working on an event, a book, a new product, a promotional campaign, a new website, or some other thing and want to start seeding the idea to build up interest.

Today's post will explore several specific tactics to develop your growing Social Media presence.

1) Ask Your Peers For Advice

Your network will include peers from not only your current industry, but contacts from related and tangential industries. If you've been very active in building your network, you also have connections from entirely unrelated industries whose point of view will be completely different than your own. These people can all provide perspective, advice and leads.

- Use professional networks to find resources to assist you
- Ask questions of people who have already been down the same path to understand potential pitfalls, get tips and learn where shortcuts work and where they hurt
- Don't be afraid to look for external validation from peers. Everyone hits a wall, even in pre-development work. There is nothing wrong with asking people to confirm that it's not you.
- Learn the logistics and limitations of your project by reading blogs. whitepapers and other info out there for free.

It's easy to have a "good idea." It's a whole other ball of wax to be able to bring that idea to fruition. You are not alone and you are not the first person to do whatever it is you are going to do. Peers in your network have been there and done that, you can learn a lot from them. Peer input will not only give you clarity, but can keep the flame of your creativity alive.


2) Solicit Suggestions and Input from Your Audience

Before you start popping out PR materials with lots of screamers, think about your audience. Will they care that you're developing a new website? Maybe not - unless you get them involved.

- Run contests to promote the idea, and for images and content
- Get feedback on intangibles like color schemes, mascot names and logos
- Recruit beta-testers. If you have a new tool you're working on, or a game, or anything where functionality is in issue, ask your audience to be part of the process.

The key to shifting a person from audience to market is to get them involved. When your audience feels that they have been heard and involved in your choices, they will naturally be more engaged in the end product. You'll gain valuable information (market research) and they'll gain enthusiasm as your project progresses, knowing they were part of it.


3) Seed Your Senior Members

If you've been working on building your network and your audience, you will have noticed that some of those people have positioned themselves as your allies. They enthusiastically support you, they share news you share, they "like" and comment and Digg and do whatever they can to get the word out.

- Ask them directly for assistance with sharing news
- "Leak" information to them, so they feel like privileged sources and let them know when they can - and cannot - share that information
- Reward them by thanking them on your Social Media spaces and acknowledging them as part of your team
- Seek further buy-in from them by asking those suitable to do so to handle additional tasks.

These allies, your senior community members, want to feel loved and appreciated and want to share their love and appreciation for you. Give them as many opportunities to do so, escalating appropriately. There may be a person from whom a "like" and a "Digg" are all you need and want, there may be a person who you can give actual business to in thanks for their support. Understand the limitations of your senior members and ask them to do, as a favor to you, what they would do gladly on their own - then thank them profusely for it.

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These tactics, in conjunction with the 4 building blocks, will help you develop a strong picture of what you're trying to build, how to go about it and who you can rely on.

Next up - what to do, when you're ready to launch!
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