Starting Social Media from Scratch

Social Media from Scratch

I recently volunteered to participate in a discussion panel about starting Social Media efforts from scratch. I thought it would be helpful for me to put my speaking notes into the form of a blog post for easy reference for those in attendance and for my own records.
Social Media from Scratch

  1. Educate Yourself: The good news is if you are reading this article (and/or you attended the event I mentioned)  you are already doing it right and seeking knowledge from others. The whole spirit of Social Media is to share with no expectation of an immediate return (or any return). Sharing for the sake of sharing is encouraged and very often the norm.
  2. Secure Your Identity: I can’t stress this one enough. Decide how you will present yourself, as a person, as a brand and/or both and secure your Twitter handle, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn company profile and/or personal profile. There are other channels of course, but those are the big three. Hopefully you have already secured your domain name with the same thoughts in mind.
    • If you are looking to build your network be sure to use a current photo in your profiles so people can easily identify you. Avoid using drawings or logos for your profile picture unless you are representing a brand as the brand and not a person.
    • Avoid using or creating a personal profile on Facebook or LinkedIn to represent a company or organization, this is confusing, harder to manage and definitely against the terms of use for these sites. As a general rule profiles are for people and pages are for companies/organizations.
    • Pick a handle/username that represents you well and be consistent in its use whenever possible. You will need 25 fans on a Facebook fan page before you can get your own custom URL.
    • Don’t cross post from one platform to another as a rule, in other words don’t populate your Twitter feed from Facebook, this is annoying to fans/followers for several reasons. First, this behavior suggests a lack of commitment to communicating. secondly it usually creates a link to an article with the exact same content your fans/followers just read on Twitter. Lastly, it is not that hard with tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck to manage your social media from one dashboard, so do that rather than cross post.
  3. Formulate a Social Media Policy and a Social Media Plan: These things are definitely tied together but also definitely very different. A Social Media Policy will help you decide how your company will use Social Media, what you will and won’t talk about, and how you will respond to your fans/followers. A Social Media Plan will help you align your Social Media efforts with your company beliefs, mission and values as well as set measurable goals that you can track, measure and reset as needed.
    • Identify who will carry out your Social Media efforts and empower them to engage with your fans/followers.
    • Allow free access to social networks and set clear expectations as to how employees are expected to conduct themselves in these channels. Be sure to include an “all opinions are my own” clause in your policy so employees both identify themselves as an employee, but also take responsibility for their own actions.
    • Measure your Social Media efforts using tools such as Google Analytics, Hub Spot’s Grader Tools as well as Facebook Insights. Don’t be afraid to steer the ship in another direction if something is not working. If you are planning correctly and tracking your efforts you should be able to make small adjustments rather then drastic changes.
    • Follow your competition and see what they are doing better or worse than you. It’s OK to borrow ideas from your peers and make them your own, and you can bet they will be watching you too.
  4. Share, Build Relationships and Then Transact: Start using your newly found Social Media toolbox and jump in head first. By sharing and adding value with quality content in your Social Media feeds and your Blog (if you have one) you will earn the trust of your followers and begin to build a strong network. Only after you have shared, shared and shared again can you ask your network to buy, donate, volunteer. If you try to skip straight to the transaction you will lose your audience and their trust.
    • Get past the hurdle of immediate gratification and cultivate long-term relationships with strangers who may or may not ever transact with you. This seems to be the toughest concept to grasp when starting out. If you are looking to generate hot leads instantly you may be disappointed. If instead you are looking to build a base of enthusiastic followers who keep you “top-of-mind” in your industry you are in luck.
    • Share articles of interests on your blog or simply re-tweet something that somebody else wrote. Be sure to “Like” lots of things on Facebook, this elevates the rank of posts and increases visibility for your friends and pages you are following. Remember that “Liking” something is FREE and again in the spirit of Social Media you will do this with no expectation of a return.
    • Ask (both open-ended and specific) questions to your network and thank those that respond, recognize those you follow with @ mentions within your networks and give congratulations to others on their accomplishments.
    • When you finally transact, remember how you got there, track your efforts, thank your customers, thank those that referred them to you, share the tools you used that helped you find success, continue to do all of the above and lather, rinse, repeat.

Traditional Media is Not Dead, it’s Undead!

I keep hearing the phrase “Traditional Media is Dead”, and according to this article: Newspaper circulation slides nationwide, by Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera featured on the SF Chronicle’s web site:

Traditional Media is Undead
Brains, Brains…

Newspaper circulation has fallen steadily in recent years due in part to access to free online content and reductions in the distribution areas of many publications.

Paper trail
The top U.S. newspapers by average weekday and Sunday circulation from October 2009 through March. The percentage changes are from the same six-month span last year.”

  1. Wall Street Journal: 2,092,523 weekday (up 0.5 percent); no Sunday edition.
  2. USA Today: 1,826,622 weekday (down 13.6 percent); no Sunday edition.
  3. New York Times: 951,063 weekday (down 8.5 percent); 1,376,230 Sunday (down 5.2 percent).
  4. Los Angeles Times: 616,606 weekday (down 14.7 percent); 941,914 Sunday (down 7.6 percent).
  5. Washington Post: 578,482 weekday (down 13.1 percent); 797,679 Sunday (down 8.2 percent).

The Chronicle is No. 24, with a weekday circulation of 241,330 (down 22.7 percent); and a Sunday circulation of 286,121 (down 19.3 percent).
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations

Read the full article here…

However according to Samuel Parent in his article Is Traditional Media Dead? posted on the Social Media Today web site:

Traditional media are not dead – not yet, and not for a while at least. They’re not all as strong as they’ve once been, but they still occupy an important place in the media landscape.

Parent goes on to provide many statistics which can be found within the full article here…

I find it a bit amusing that that my two sources are a newspaper web site (which makes mention of declining readership) and a Social Media blog (which states the importance of traditional media).

I also find it amusing that many of those who will make the statement that “traditional media is dead” are also the first to tweet or blog and brag about being featured in a magazine piece, newspaper article or television show/segment.  I am a big fan of all things new and techy, and love social media, but I don’t think we should be dancing on the grave of traditional media just yet (so to speak).

I tend to think of Social Media as Undead. Being a big movie buff and a fan of zombie films I can’t help but compare traditional media to the zombie hordes that will surely be on my back porch when the zombie apocalypse arrives (my backyard is next to a cemetery). While traditional media appears to be dead, it is actually still quite animated and if you move too slow it will eat your brains.

Blogging while waiting for a haircut, The Rule of Three and three articles that make a lot of sense…

Like many of you I have asked myself the question: “Who has time to blog?”. I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent Social Media Breakfast: Madison event at the Talula restaurant in Madison, WI. One of our presenters, Tom Marks of TMA + Peritus made several points which have inspired me to start actually writing my blog rather than letting my twitter feed populate WordPress.

Mullets are Making a Comeback ...During Tom’s presentation he addressed that very sentiment (being too busy to blog), and his response was this: If you follow the “Rule of Three”, which according to Tom is to aim for writing a blog post made up of at least three paragraphs of at least three sentences each, you are well on your way to writing more original content than most blogs contain. Considering many blogs today are really just content copied and pasted from other web sites, articles and blogs I have to agree with Tom. Tom also stated that writing an effective blog post could be accomplished “in the time it takes to wait for a haircut”, and claims his last blog post was done in exactly that fashion.

With this in mind I did a few Google searches and found three (I sense a trend here) articles of interest related (somewhat) to this post.

  1. How to Use the “Rule of Three” to Create Engaging Content by Brian Clark
  2. How to Write a Three Paragraph Essay by Dr. Dennis Lee Chapman
  3. Presentation Tips – The Rule of Three by Citrus Studios

It did take me a little longer than I might wait to get a haircut to write this, and I also borrowed much of my content, but I did use the articles I am linking to (and Tom’s advice) as guidelines, and I expect I will get faster and more original in my blog posts in the future.