Wednesday, 27 May 2009

6 Steps to Social Media Success

1) Create a digital plan

The website should not be considered separate to your blog and your facebook page considered to be separate to your twitter account. The objective is to work alongside your current web developer, and SEO specialist in order for SMM to be an integral part of your online strategy.

2) Observe and create a customer map

Immerse yourselves into the social media and the blogosphere to understand the most influential places within the social web. What are the largest communities? What are they talking about? What is the relevant content? What is being said about the industry and key competitors. Who is creating the most buzz? You need to:

- Looks who’s talking… What is being talked about in the digital world about your industry? Here at the observation stage you will get a handle on the landscape.

- Understand / create a business goal… Within this first step of marketing to the social web, there are a number of research guides that a company should establish:
  • Identify and prioritise the company’s needs and goals
  • Important dates that will determine when in-market activities will start
  • Target audience definitions – whom are we most interested in getting a point of view from?
  • Top competitors
  • Best practice comparisons – which competitors within the industry are using the digital channels to their advantage
  • Keywords for searching the Web
- Define the market and speak their language… Whose point of view is most important to your business? What customer group is your most immediate focus? We can define the target audience by behaviour, demographics, topical interests, or whatever is relevant to the business goal. Look at other products and service which are in a related field or relevant to your business goals.

- Look for best practice examples… Given your business goal and target market, you will want to look at competitive websites with an eye toward identifying best practices in managing digital conversations.

- Select key words and begin to search… Select 10-15 key words, these are the search terms that lead us to blogs, news sites, and communities that are discussing, mentioning, or rating the topics that concern you the most.

3) Evaluate Online Conduit Strategies and create a presence

Who are your customers, where do they hang out lets hang out with them. Research the top blogs, reputation aggregators (Yahoo!, Google, TripAdvisor for example), e-communities, and social networks.

4) Populate with ‘sticky’ and engaging content

Create a community full of content that will satisfy the community examples are use of photos, videos, chat articles etc… Remember solve problems!

5) Recruit community members

Once people have been recruited to one or more communities, they tend to become impervious to further solicitation through traditional media. Use multiple methods to recruit community members. You can create lifetime customers through twitter, facebook as an example to start offering discounts and special offers and services to fans. A good starting place is to think about the reasons why people join online communities at all. There are a number of reasons to consider:
  • Meet people. 78% of people who visit online communities join them to communicate with others
  • Entertain themselves. Another 47% join to find entertaining content
  • Learn something new. Some 38% join because they want to obtain information about topics that hold particular interest to them
  • Influence others. 23% join to express their opinions in a forum where their ideas can be discussed
N.B. These add up to more than 100% because some people participate for two or more reasons.

- Send out invites… With these four reasons in mind, we can then craft an approach to recruiting members to your community. Also consider facebook adverts to boost membership within the first 2 months (once you have created ‘sticky’ content)

- Create community feeling

- Build on existing sites and communities… Use existing communities to add more appeal to the work you are doing within your own SMM plan.

6) Engage communities in conversation

Use the tools available to you within the social media sphere to engage communities in conversation. Use relevant material such as, photos, articles, video footage, blogs, twitter posts to engage the community and start a conversation. Encourage visitors to the site to post their images / comment / start a dialogue start a competition for example best wildlife / action / family photo wins a prize. Give prizes away to winner give discounts / free trials / 1hours consultancy etc to all entrants.

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