So you are taking the plunge.  You’ve heard it over and over and you are taking the first steps toward getting your business in the social media / social networking realm.  Ready… Set… Now What?

Thoughtful planning and consideration need to go into the process, but the effort can be daunting and outright overwhelming.

Here’s a good solid approach that just about any business can follow and be successful with when entering social networking.

by Robbert van der Steeg1. Make the commitment and decide your time commitment. How much time you are willing to commit to be consistent with your participation?  The benefits of social media do not happen overnight.  They take time.  Making this commitment and sticking to it is the only way to ensure success.  Be realistic.  If you think you can only commit to an hour a week, then a blog may be the way to go (We like WordPress).  Got 2 hours? Why not establish a Facebook page as well.  As you become more familiar with each new site, you will find natural efficiencies occur and you will have more time to add more sites to your repertoire.

2. Monitor and listen and follow. Sometimes this is the easiest step and it will get you used to what is being said, by whom it is being said and the intricacies of engaging in those conversations.  This is often overlooked, but can be one of the most important steps you should take.  It gives you insight to your audience and will give you opportunities to be involved before you start blasting your message.  Technorati is a great tool for finding who is talking about what.  It’s free and you can search just about any term or group of terms and get a list of blogs or blog posts that pertain to those terms.  You can even find blog rankings and other pertinent information so you know who the industry influencers are no matter what industry you are in.  Follow the people who you find interesting.  Find industry experts and follow their conversations.  Learn what they do, what they talk about, who they follow and follow those people as well.  The more people you follow, the more you will learn.

3. Define your objectives and determine your measurements of success. What do you hope to gain by becoming active?  Brand awareness? Better customer service? Increased sales?  Specifically state your goals and you will have a way to measure them and determine if your efforts are worth the time.  Will you measure success by the number of “followers” or “fans”? or will measure success by the number of posts or comments to your blog?

4. Do your research. Who is your audience? Where (which sites) do they reside? Why should they listen to you (i.e. what do you have to offer)?  Without this prior knowledge and understanding, you are basically taking a shot in the dark hoping to hit your target… oh after you’ve been twirled around until you are almost sick with dizziness.  Yep. That’s a good analogy. If you start spattering off about nothing in particular to no one (or everyone) in particular, the chances of people taking your seriously are pretty slim.  Or they may just tune you out completely.  Take your time to develop the right ideas, but hurry up already…  The world is waiting.

5. Establish a strategy or game plan. Don’t just start blasting anyone and everyone with no process or purpose.  Develop a schedule.  Develop a theme. Get organized.  Brainstorm topic ideas that you have knowledge of, have an opinion about, or want to learn about.  This last one is important, because not everything has to be about what you know.  It can be about what you don’t know!  There is nothing wrong with asking for advice from your audience.  This can lead to trust and open communication because people want to feel needed and they like to offer their “solicited” advice.

6. Monitor comments/conversations. It’s not just about your message.  It’s also about what other people are saying and topics they are discussing when it pertains you or your business.  And there are always dissenters out there that need to be addressed.  The only way you are going to know about these is to keep an eye on what is happening on the sites where you have a presence.  There are easy to use monitoring tools out there. Check out Hootsuite.  It’s a good one for monitoring and integration (plus a lot of other really cool tools.  We’ll get to this in a later post).

7. Determine time frame for measuring success. I’ll say it again: The benefits of social media do not happen overnight. However, you must track your progress as you go.  Remember those goals?  You have a starting point.  Now, how fast are you going to get there with the relation to the time commitment to which you have agreed?  What is working?  What is not?  What is necessary for consistent imaging of your brand?  Will you measure each of these by the week, by the month, by the quarter?  No matter what measurement scale or time frame you decide, make sure you are consistently measuring the same thing over a longer period of time.

8. Adjust as necessary. Not every site works for every person or business.  Only you can determine how best to use your time and how effective that use of time is on obtaining your goals.  Don’t be afraid to start something new, but think twice before you stop participating on a site.  Make sure you have used it effectively and for an adequate amount of time.  Most importantly: make sure your audience isn’t left hanging.

Of course, not everyone has the time to get in and get started or keep the time commitment to an appropriate level.  Full Moon Design Group has professionals that are experienced in helping clients engage with their customers on a variety of platforms.  We can help integrate your social media strategy into your overall marketing strategy, no learning curve involved.  We can guide you through each step or we can manage your strategy from start to finish.  We take your comfort level into consideration and develop the right plan for you and your business.

Want to get started?  Give us a call.  512.428.9072

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