People are astounded and maybe appalled when I tell them the number of twitter accounts I have. And the fact that I tried to log on Facebook while already on Facebook is a bit embarrassing. However, the amount Social Media Certifiedof time I spent on and talking about social media is most likely why I have a career in social media today. I didn’t major in Facebook, and Twitter was not even a thought. In fact, the things closest to social networking while I was in college were chat room, AOL Instant Messenger, and Black Planet. But through a bit of personal obsession and a ton of learning, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Understand the foundation

Whether you love me or hate me, it looks like I’m here to stay. In case you don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself. I’m officially known as social media – and i have no idea how that happened, but when marketers, publicists, and business owners got ahold of me, I had an identity change. Frankly, the name change happened in the blink of an eye. One day I was known as social networking, and then I became social media. And while it may not seem essential to know my history, it’s imperative you know my true inner workings before believing you’ll become a social media pro.

People say “you never know where you’re going until you know from where you’ve come.” Since the foundation of social media is actually social networking, you’ll realize those who do it good have valuable interactions, good conversations, and “listen”. The basics of creating a maintaining real-life relationships offline are true to social media; just with a bigger audience.

So what makes you stand out from the crowd?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. It can be different for each user. However, I do have a REAL LIFE advice that you can put into action today. It’ll take a bit of patience and trial and error, but I hope these tips put you on the road to doing social media marketing like a pro.

  1. Become obsessed with media. To become great at it, you have to immerse yourself in it. It’s like learning a second language. You can’t just read it or listen to it, you have to actually use it…and a lot. The same is true for social media. One or two times a month is not nearly enough. You have to REALLY use each site. By using the platforms, you’ll get to know what they have in common. You’ll also get a gist of what works. Start with personal accounts, operating as a person and not a business. Then once you have a better idea as to how each site works, try pages and accounts for your businesses.
  2. Read. There are a ton of articles, blog posts, and books on social media marketing. Since social media wasn’t yet a trend when I was majoring in marketing, I had to – and still – obtain knowledge the old school way; by doing and reading.
  3. Talk to people. People are the real users of social media, not businesses. Even when you’re selling to businesses, it’s a human that’s making a decision. Therefore, you want to know what makes them tick. Get to know why they use the sites, what they do when on the sites, who they follow, and why they choose to follow who they follow. Also, ask how often they’re on the sites and at what time of the day. Finally, ask why they don’t follow or stop following people or businesses. And while it’s best to talk to people within your target audience, if you’re just getting started, friends, family, and colleagues are a good starting point. (BTW…don’t forget to tap the brain of the marketing friend or other business owners who are willing to give you free advice.)
  4. Read. You will never come reach the bottom of the barrel on social media articles and blog posts. And since social media is ever-changing, reading is one of the only ways to keep up on the trends. Social Media Examiner is a great site to stay up-to-date on social media trends.
  5. Start small. Don’t take your business to each social platform at once. Instead, choose one or two platforms to get your feet wet. Then branch out if necessary. If you’re a business selling to customers, I recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a business selling to other businesses, I recommend LinkedIn and Twitter.
  6. Read. Be sure not only read how to “use” the social media platforms, but also take time to read about social media analytics, or metrics that help you determine how effective your methods are. These metrics can help you determine what’s working and what’s not working. Some tols even allow you to see how your competition – or even brands in which you aspire to be – are doing.
  7. Pay attention to yourself. While what you do should not be the “be all, end all” determinant for how you use social media platforms for your business, your personal use of social media will tell you a lot. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like, the things you respond to and don’t respond to, and even how much time you spend on each platform.
  8. Read. Run out of ideas of what to post? Try looking for articles on content ideas. I’m sure you’ll come across a few. Here’s an article by Copyblogger and 101 Web Content Tips, Ideas, and Resources by Nick Usborne to get you started.
  9. Pay attention to other people. If you watch close enough, people will tell you how they use social media without you even asking. For example, if you watch close enough, you can tell who has their Facebook and Twitter accounts linked, what location someone posted from, and even from what type of device they’re posting. You can also get a good idea of demographics, interests, and personalities.
  10. Read. You may realize that keeping your social media pages up-to-date can be very time consuming, thus causing this to become a backburner tactic. Don’t let the temptation settle in. There are several tools and articles out there with effective time management in mind. Before giving up, take time to learn about and make use of this advice. It can drastically change how you go about managing your social media content.
  11. Pay attention to other business. Both your competition, compliments, and even businesses that seemingly have nothing to do with your business will provide hints as to what to post, how to post, and how often. It’s no shame in my game to say that I’ve frequented the Facebook pages of Target, Disney, Meijer (regional retailer), and Walmart to get ideas. They have good ideas, and I have no problem in CASE(ing) the joint…in an oh so legal manner. (FYI…CASE = Copy and Steal Everything)
  12. Did I mention, read. Reading and talking to others will be your biggest asset to becoming a social media pro. And not only will you know what to do, you’ll be equipped to know truth from lie as well as what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Everyone is not well-versed in blogging and nor should they be. Your main objective, to say what you have to say. To give advice, sell your product. or whatever you do best. My objective, to help you know how to get them to read it. So as your write your post, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Blogging tips that'll get them reading.
Blogging tips that’ll get them reading.
  1. Write about something your audience cares about. We often make the mistake of writing what we care about only. Well, what if no one else care?  If you’re a makeup guru, the majority of what you talk about should be makeup and fashion and not about what you did at school, unless you’re going to school for beauty and fashion. Similarly, if your audience is into gaming, the latest MAC beauty products shouldn’t be at the heart of your discussion – even if you are into beauty products.
  2. Write from your heart. There’s nothing more painful nor more dishonest than writing what you think they want to hear. Real content and authentic passion can only be conveyed when it comes from the heart.
  3. Capture their attention at the beginning. Start with a short story, statistic, or anecdote that the reader can relate to to capture interest. Then
  4. Select a title that captures your audience but is also SEO-friendly. Your title is crucial as it’s used to entice the reader. And it needs to be SEO-friendly because you want to entice the search engines.
  5. Make it plain. A blog is not a scholarly journal and your readers shouldn’t have to feel as if they’re looking to obtain their post-graduate degree by reading your blog. Even if the topic is more academic or advanced by nature, be weary of using terms that may trip them up or stop them from reading all together. Just because the topic is of interest doesn’t mean your audience is well-versed in the jargon.
  6. Use formatting and bullet points to draw interest to key points. I’ve said this many times and I say it again. This helps draw the eyes to important points to those with short attention spans (ahem, me).
  7. Get to the point and keep it short. Eliminate unnecessary works and back off the fluff. We get it. You like to play on words. Well, your readers like their time. There’s a time to be clever and a time to simply say
  8. Choose good pictures. While not even close to the most important pat of the blog, pictures add a visual element to a blog, breaking up the redundancy of the black and white. (Even wonder why people like to read magazines? Nothing scientific, but based on my 2 cents, I would say the images are why.) Start here for free pics.
  9. Vary the type of content you publish. Blogs don’t always have to be words. Think about embedding a video or maybe an all picture blog post. Reading is not everyone’s thing. Video engages the visual and audio learner. And pictures are just a good way to convey information differently.
  10. Provide the audience with a glimpse of your personality. People relate to people, and the words on the page have a way of conveying who you are. Leverage your uniqueness to add flavoring that only you can do. While there may be many who provide similar services, there’s only one you. Use that to your advantage.

Until next time

RP

I normally don’t do product reviews, however, with my new found admiration of Press This by WordPress and a conversation I was having on Twitter, I was inspired to share how TweetDeck took me from a Twitter “hater” to a Twitter fan.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Pros:

I remember when MySpace was the talk of the town. Facebook wasn’t as popular and other social media channels were trying to put their stakes in the ground. Then suddenly it happened. MySpace became more obsolete than a chat room from the 90s.

So what did it? What did MySpace in?

1) What do you think led to MySpace’s demise? Facebook?  MySpace’s efforts to allow people to express their individuality on pages that resulted in a design convulsion? Lack of advanced functionality?

2) With current efforts to re-brand, do you think there’s hope for the future?

Let’s hear it.

The Good Ol’ Dayscut outs holding hands

I remember Facebook. You know the one that you needed a college ID to have an account. The one where I connected with my friends from school who had gone afar and no longer within convenient reach. The ones who were still in school or who had ventured back to their original homes…or even settled into new destinations.

The good old days when people were poking others (whatever that meant), Twitter didn’t exist, and MySpace was the treacherous beast that I still have yet to understand why so many spent they’re beloved time.

Yes. The good ol’ days of social media. (What was that? Like 6 years ago?)

And Then it Got Big

Fast forward to 2011, and we’re in a world of social mayhem. Facebook has transformed from a simple interface with basic functionality to a beast that holds games and pictures and apps and brands and whatever else the world decides to throw at the screen.

Add on Twitter, YouTube, and the numerous blogging sites that allow us to share our intimate secrets with one another via words, video and pics, and we have social networking in a nutshell.

Well, that’s if you leave out marketers. You know. People like me. The ones who pitch their brand with the goal of keeping you connected, driving sales, and getting your buy-in.

Using Social for Good

But there’s another sector. Those who use social media for good.

While all the above is at times good, today I would like to pay homage to those who use social media for good. You know organizations like GOOD, World Food Programme, Join(Red), and Amber Alert. Or those individuals and organizations who use social media to raise money for relief for areas impacted by natural disasters such as Japan and Haiti.

The reality is that we, as individuals or marketers, have an opportunity to use social media for good every time we enter the social arena and make a post. Yes. I understand that this is not always realistic with present goals, and maybe even our target market’s desires. However, I would like to say “thank you” to all the organization who have posted even one post for the good of humanity because you don’t have to, and you’ve decided to go beyond yourself and truly make the world a “better place” – Michael Jackson.

The Reach, The Span, The Change.

Whether you have 5 followers of 100,000, social media is a powerful tool allowing us as people and organizations to make a change. Let’s not only use it for ourselves, but let’s take small moments to make big changes one tweet at a time.

Much love.

Regina

Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.

Marketing & Web Content Consultant

reginapatterson.com

info@reginapatterson.com

616.443.6401

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Hyper ManEven  my grandma knows about Twitter. I get it. It’s HOT. But really, after all the cute stuff is said and done, is it converting? Is it doing what you want it to do?

This is more than just making money. (If you’re using only social to drive sales, your mix is so unbalanced even an elephant wouldn’t be able to help tip the scale in the appropriate direction.) 

Here are a few great ways to measure conversion from a social standpoint.

Awareness. Do more people know you exist?
Loyalty. Are your customers or clients more loyal because they have that networked connection?
Engagement. Are people interacting with your page?
Traffic. Are you efforts driving traffic to your site or brick & mortar locale?
Sales. Are your sales increasing as a result of your social efforts? (For most, this is a hard one to measure. However, you may see increased sales in the long run through awareness, loyalty, and repeat traffic.)

I don’t knock social. I’m out there myself. The key is that social media is only a portion of a balanced marketing mix. It’s not the end all, be all, and defintely shouldn’t be treated that way. However, when done well, it for darn sure will have it’s benefits.

Not yet in the social media game. Just getting started?
Social Media…Consume. Contribute. Collide?

For more information on developing a social media strategy, contact:
Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.
Marketing & Web Content Consultant