This week I had the occasion to speak with two friends about Internet marketing and social media. In each case, these ladies were somewhat daunted by all the various opportunities available for communication, connections and/or promotion and were seeking advice on what to do.
My feedback was simple: Eat more chocolate and spend less time on the computer. Well, not really. Arguably, too much of either one can be bad for your health, but if you eat very dark organic chocolate, while simultaneously spending only productive time on the computer, I personally think the health factors turn positive. (Note: I’m not a Doctor and not authorized to give dietary advice, so if you doubt the veracity of such wisdom, please send your chocolate to me).
Health food aside, when assuming the perspective of someone who is “not” availing themselves of a variety of Internet communication channels, I’m sure you can appreciate that such folks could very well be put off by all that can be explored and learned.
So…my real advice is twofold:
1) The Un-Social Media Strategy
This would be somewhat akin to opening a box of chocolates and randomly selecting one, and when ready, randomly picking another to taste.
Stated another way, simply start anywhere with any social media channel that catches your fancy and not concern yourself with any strategy at all – other than to learn and have fun.
You can do one or any of the following:
♦ Establish a profile on Facebook and connect with friends.
♦ Set yourself up on LinkedIn and engage in some business networking.
♦ Find some blogs on topics of interest and post some comments.
♦ Create an account at Flickr and upload some photos.
Or, take advantage of any of the thousands of other social media opportunities in the world that you encounter.
2) Strategic Social Media Marketing
This would be comparable to opening a box of chocolates and planning a campaign to maximize enjoyment of all those delectable treats as efficiently as possible.
From a strategic perspective, all those chocolates are NOT equal. And the worst thing to do would be to eat them all at once in an orgy of online gluttony.
So, where to start?
If you are not averse to writing regularly about a topic of interest, then the first online social media chocolate is easy to select:
A) BLOGGING: Start with a blog. No matter how you evolve into the realm of social media, if you really want to strategically leverage your online interactions, then it will all revolve around your blog(s). Hence, establishing a blog is the most important element of all that will follow. Your blog will be the very foundation of every single social channel that you engage. You see, your blog is all yours: you control it and own it (particularly if you have a self-hosted blog). All other social media channels are controlled by the company that is providing the service. It’s like you are a visitor in their home. However, a blog is like your very own home. Again, this needs to be considered from the perspective of a strategic use of online marketing, as opposed to simply enjoying the box of chocolates.
B) LINKEDIN: Presuming your strategic interest is in marketing some product, or especially service (even if it’s simply your services related to personal employment), then you will want to establish a profile on LinkedIn. The purpose of this site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. If you have your own business, you can create a company page as well. LinkedIn should be connected to your blog and your regular blog writings (posts) can, and should be, auto-imported into your LinkedIn profile to further leverage your blog activities. LinkedIn is a worthy chocolate to consume for professional networking.
C) FACEBOOK: You’ll definitely want to establish a profile on Facebook no matter what you’re doing. Of all the social media channels on our little interconnected ball of rock, water, people and computers, Facebook is the big daddy. It’s the largest social networking service in the world. Similar to LinkedIn, Facebook also offers Business Pages, and also has viewership metrics (via the Insights data available to Business Page administrators). Facebook is a rich network, and includes the ability to email and instant message friends, as well as upload photos and keep apprised of what’s going on with your friends and family who also use the service. Further, you can conduct your Internet searches directly from within the service. Facebook is like its own self-contained Internet, or its very own large box of chocolates. But you are a guest. You should definitely promote your blog on Facebook and auto-import your blog posts into your Facebook profile and/or Facebook business Page. Facebook is one of the best tasting chocolates in the box and for the non-strategic participant could be the one and only chocolate to partake.
Strategic Social Media Extra Credit
D) YOUTUBE: If you like movies (or at least have an interest in making simple ones with a video camera), then YouTube is an especially tasty truffle. You already know YouTube is a video sharing website and if you already have videos uploaded there, they should also be embedded within your blog and leveraged via your other social media channels. Video is a Google darling (Google purchased YouTube in November of 2006), and is an important component of any online marketing mix. The only reason it’s listed as “extra credit” instead of within the first list of chocolates is because although the technical skills to publish videos are nominal, it is arguably a bit more than the others.
E) TWITTER: Twitter may be the hot online social media application right now, but that’s not enough of a marketing reason to use it. However, your customers may very well be using Twitter to talk about you today. So, hot or not, Twitter is worth listening to. You’ll be fairly amazed at what you find and at how easy it is to keep abreast of conversations that matter to you.
There are plenty more chocolates in that delectable box of social media channels. Strategically speaking, the main point to recognize is that all you do in social marketing should evolve around a blog, if you are inclined to leverage your impact for marketing purposes. But if the notion of a strategic approach to social media participation seems to lessen the appeal of trying all those chocolates, then “The Un-Social Media Strategy” is right for you. Enjoy!