During our Social Media Webinar yesterday, February 23rd, 2010 we promised to publish a Social Media blueprint. This Blueprint outlines the practical steps a company should take to leverage success through Social Media. Social Media is all about being ‘Social’. People create accounts and profiles on major social networks but forget to interact and connect through these networks. Being social in the online space is all about having on-going conversations, about networking and continuing dialogue with people who share a common interest. We highlight 5 steps to be ‘active’ in the Social Media sphere. These steps cover the major networks you should participate in and also explain their relevance.
- STEP 1 – Socialize! Social media is all about being Social. If you want to use Social Media effectively, you have to be extremely social and active in the Social Media sphere. The more you contribute to communities, answer questions, network etc. the better it is for your brand. The key is to provide great content (or links to it), talk to your followers about their interests and lead conversations. Initially it’s more about giving than expecting to get back. Once you have established good reputation through valuable content, your traffic would increase. Start by following leading conversations on the internet. All social media platforms have weekly and daily trends. Participate in these trends to take your brand forward.
- STEP 2 – Get started on major Social networking platforms:Facebook (www.facebook.com). Facebook is one of the most popular Social media networks out there. There are many ways that businesses can benefit from the various features of Facebook. One of the key ways is by creating a Facebook Fan page. A fan page is easy to set up and lets you group together your customers/colleagues/friends etc. under a common page. You can use this page to facilitate discussions, introduce new products, give updates on your brand, talk about corporate life etc. The fan page is an attempt to give your company a face in the Social media sphere. You should also add a link to your fan page on your site.Linkedin (www.linkedin.com). Where Facebook is more diverse Linkedin focuses on businesses in particular and caters to a more professional audience. Over the past couple of years Linkedin has gained tremendous popularity and is currently one of the largest professional networks out there. With Linkedin you can create a professional profile for yourself and add fellow colleagues, contacts, customers etc. You can also create a company page to advertise and link your company to the existing network. These two features help you gain prominence on Linkedin. A great way to show your expertise on Linkedin is by creating Linkedin groups on a specific industry topic that may interest other industry professionals. The group should not be your company’s name but should cater to common interests. Check out Wakefly’s Group: Online Marketing for Biotech. A Group is a great way of facilitating discussion, posting news and job listings and answering industry specific questions. You can also show your expertise by Answering questions on Linkedin’s Answers forum. The more your network, the more popularity you will gain within the Social media platform.Twitter (www.twitter.com). Twitter is very different from both Facebook and Linkedin. It allows users to get their message across in 140 characters. The reason that Twitter is important is because it’s increasingly becoming popular with businesses and a majority of your customers are probably on twitter right now. You can use twitter to facilitate conversations, share links, comment on your followers questions and direct your followers to the latest news. Twitter helps build your traffic. Twitter is all about having open source conversations with anyone and everyone. You can pretty much follow anyone you like and share information with people globally. Like Facebook and Linkedin twitter lets you put up a bio and a link to your website. These links help people find your website.Google Buzz. Google Buzz is the latest addition to the Social media family. It is fairly new as it was launched this month (Feburary 2010) but has gained immense popularity in a short span of time. Google Buzz combines your facebook, twitter, youtube, picassa, blog etc. accounts into one place and lets you manage all your social media work from one domain. It is connected to a Gmail account, so it will be best practice to create a Gmail account (www.gmail.com) for your company. It works like Twitter, where in short snippets you can get your message across. When using Google Buzz you can also search for users talking about a common interest/theme and follow them to increase your visibility. Google Buzz prompts discussions and allows better compatibility of various Social networks.
- STEP 3 – Create a Blog. After having continous conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin you will become quite familiar with the Social media structure. Now is the time to create your own blog and start more meaningful conversations. The best thing to do is to create a blog as a subdomain to your site. The blog should be www.yourcompany.com/blog or www.blog.yourcompanyname.com for e.g. www.wakefly.com/blog. If you don’t have resources in-house to create a blog, you can seek expert help or use a free blogging site to create a blog. Free sites include www.wordpress.com, www.blogspot.com, www.blogger.com etc. Having a blog is important as Social Media is very content driven. A blog can help you create fresh content daily or weekly. And it also allows you to connect with users who might require expert advice on a specific topic in your industry. Having a blog is the best way of offering advice, showing your expertise and forming connections within the industry. It allows users to see how you can market yourself successfully and also presents a professional image in the online world. Once you have a blog, you can share its content on other Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. A Blog also helps you gain more visibility in the Search Engines.
- STEP 4 – Create an Account on Social Media News sites. Once you have set up a blog it’s time to advertise it on various news sites. There are specific social networks out there that cater only to blog links and current news: StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com). StumbleUpon is a site for bloggers. It collects the various blogs out there and groups them together in a single pool. It is also one of the most powerful and popular Social networks. You can specify the categories of your blog and add a link to it on StumbleUpon. Once you have set that, StumbleUpon will automatically make its users stumble upon it. Remember to keep your blog content fresh and to visit StumbleUpon atleast once a week. Once in StumbleUpon users can like/dislike a blog, comment on it, write reviews and share it on Facebook and Twitter. Digg (www.digg.com). Digg is a news site, its functionality is very similar to StumbleUpon but it is far more popular. Digg lets users post fresh content to its site. This content can be categorized in the various categorizes provided by Digg. Users on Digg can share content with each other. If your content is very well written and Digg editors feel it’s beneficial to their audience it will appear on the top of the search page on Digg. The whole purpose of Digg is to share news. Remember to Digg other people’s news and constantly comment on articles that you like. The more active you are the better chances of visibility your content has.
- STEP 5 – Be a pro Vlogger (Video Blogger). Video blogging is as important as blogging. As we emphasized earlier, Social media is all about being Social. The best way to be Social is to have a face online, a presence, and a means through which people can relate to you. Put up a video, where you are talking about a particular topic in your industry. Doing this adds further value to your conversations. It helps people see how deeply engaged you are in a particular field and it gives them greater ability to relate to you. Plus, vlogs can be shared easily. It is a great way of advertising your business and promoting your area of expertise. Make sure to keep your videos short and to the point. It is good to make them lively, humorous and low key, rather than long and boring. A vlog should ideally be between 20 seconds to 2 minutes. People have short attention spans, so keep it brief and interesting. You can create a Video using almost any digital camera. Videos can be uploaded and shared through social media sites like Youtube and Vimeo. Youtube also allows you to create your very own channel. You can have a channel for your business and invite customers to subscribe to it.