Six Steps for Setting Up Social Media Strategy

I went through a “101” call a couple weeks back and it brought back the reminder of that, while some of us do this social media stuff 24/7, most marketers and small businesses are still just getting started figuring out what to do with their Facebook profile/group/page,  YouTube channel/video, Twitter thingy. A lot of people I talk to are hesitant to even set up social media profiles because they’re sure there won’t be much time to learn about how to use them effectively — much less actually see a return on their invested time.

I made a few notes while listening to these concerns and questions and afterwards followed up with the group with six steps to getting started with social media. I wanted to share it here too, to help you start building your toolbox.

Six-Step Process for Organizing Social Media Goals & Strategies

  1. Set your objectives for using social media. There are no “wrong” goals, as long as they tie into your other business objectives. Some objectives may include driving sales, raising awareness, creating online buzz, connecting with your friends/fans/customers or using the channels as additional outlets for marketing.
  2. Determine the resources you can dedicate to social media. If you have a team, great. One person, great. One half of one-half of a person’s time, sure. Just make sure that you’re allocating the appropriate amount of resources that are in-line with your overall business objectives.
  3. Decide what social channels help you achieve the objectives you’ve set and align with the resources you have available. You don’t have to have a presence on every social media website to be successful. PGA TOUR player Stewart Cink only uses Twitter, but he does so really well and is the most popular golfer on Twitter. Each channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) is unique in how the users engage, who uses it and even where its more popular. Pick the channel or channels that will reach the people you want to reach, fit with the resources and content you can produce and the outcomes you want to achieve.  [Hint: the Groundswell Social Technographics Profile Tool is a great resource to help you identify who & what your audience is doing online.]
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel just for your social media profiles. Use the content you’re already producing for your website & newsletters (can go into Facebook notes, videos, photo galleries, etc). Make your social channels another extension of your plans for marketing, communications & digital efforts.
  5. Use insights from Facebook (Page Insights) and YouTube (Insights), as well as third-party sites like www.tweetcounter.com and TwitAlyzer.com to track your growth and successes. Hootsuite.com and Bit.ly let you track clicks on links posted on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Measure everything and use the data to back up your gut instincts about what goes well or not as good as expected.
  6. Try new things! and share your successes or hardships so we can create a better community to help each other.

What do you think? I welcome any comments, challenges or additional tips that will help others get more comfortable with starting out, or resetting their goals for using social media to connect.

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Are Promoted Tweets Worth Your Buzz?

Even before Twitter activated “Promoted Tweets” this afternoon, I received emails asking about its implications for the golf industry. I’ve done some reading today and tried to answer the questions, knowing though that we’ll learn more about Twitter’s intentions and results in the coming weeks. I thought I’d share some of that here on my “social media” blog to help freshen the content (hopefully this will be a reoccurring thing).

If Promoted Tweets is something you are thinking about exploring in your next marketing budget, and your company isn’t called Starbucks or Virgin Atlantic, you might be ahead of yourself (and the game) at this point. Early on, Twitter promotion seems like Phase 2 step, executed after a successful and exhaustive Facebook campaign to build fans around your brand.

Currently the promoted tweets are only appearing in Twitter search results, on http://search.twitter.com. I have not actually come across a promoted (paid-for) tweet yet. But when doing my preliminary searches, I noticed that Twitter was promoting the top three most popular and retweeted (reposted) updates using my search term (in this case “promoted”). Once I refreshed the page to see the new results, the promoted tweets disappeared. Not sure if this will be the behavior going forward.

The “resonance score” that Twitter will use to determine the impact of promoted messages (and ultimately, the duration) is an interesting concept. Mashable and the NY Times compared to Digg.com’s model, which takes user feedback and interaction with ads to determine the price and longevity of their run.

Initially, there may be value to brands looking to get in front of a message or firestorm by ensuring their messaging is front in search results (similar to appearing on the top of Google results). However, the golf community on Twitter is relatively small and once messaging is passed through the key voices, it doesn’t have to go much further to be heard. (Example: I saw probably 10 tweets from golf writers about Lee Westwood wearing a red shirt Sunday at The Masters. Didn’t take long for everyone to know, before he appeared on the telecast)

I would say for now, efforts to building a fan community around your branded channel should be your priority for growing your audience or marketing to them. Those core fans are the ones who will be spreading your messages for you, especially around a new product launch or tournament time. In the rare case of an exclusive opportunity that extends beyond the golf realm, that may warrant another look into extending promotions onto Facebook and/or Twitter. For now, though, I don’t believe promotional tweets should be considered in your marketing budget next month. Let’s allow the big brands experiment and see some results before dedicating budget and resources to another shiny tool.

But understand that the social world moves quickly…and by the end of summer, I may be singing another tune.

Tweet the Rainbow

 

Would you make Twitter your homepage? 

How about using Flickr photos tagged with your brand name as official company images or take what someone has written about your company history and products and use it as official brand language. 

Sounds a little crazy, right? Or it might be intriguing, but you know that suggesting it at your next marketing meeting may get you tossed out the window like the Bud Light guy in that Superbowl commercial. 

The folks at Skittles (parent company MARS) are only throwing one thing out the window — and that’s the traditional approach to brand websites. Log onto www.skittles.com and 2 bright red widget boxes pop up on your screen. One is a verification and disclaimer (T&C) clause that you have to accept. This is interesting. They’re attaching their online brand to user-generated content, yet MARS Inc. is not responsible for what you might see. 

Just a heads up: Any stuff beyond the Skittles.com page is actually another site and not in our control. This panel may be hovering over the page, but SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for what other people post and say on these sites. Click the box below to acknowledge that you know SKITTLES® isn’t responsible for that stuff.

After you accept, that leaves one box cemented on your browser window, with six tabs at the top. The new homepage for Skittles.com is the Twitter search stream for thh keyword “Skittles”. Clicking on any Products link pops you to the Wikipedia page. Same for Pics (Flickr stream), Videos (YouTube channel — only 3 videos, but that’s another topic), and Friends (Facebook Fan Page). Chatter takes you back to Twitter search [is this a sign that the “Home” tab may be changing?] and Contact gives you a feedback box on the only page that looks corporately owned. 

skittles-videos

A few questions I had after my first glances at the site: 

  • How much monitoring is going to take place on all these channels? It didn’t take long for slurs and negative statements  to show up on Twitter search (aka homepage), and we all know that anyone can edit a Wiki, post pictures to Flickr or become a fan on Facebook and post/tag rogue content. 
  • Why would someone leave a feedback email when they can post to a homepage instantly in 140 characters? I would assume the same person that gets those emails is also reading the Tweets. 
  • How will Skittles recieve, measure and respond to the Tweets, good and bad that are being posted? #Skittles has been a trending topic all morning, and the site just went up. 
  • Also, if a brand is going to base its homepage presence on Twitter, shouldn’t it own its own Twitter handle? As of 10AM (ET), @Skittles had 1 follower (and a profile pic of a LOL Cat), @SkittlesCandy was being squatted on by a concerned fan, @SkittlesUSA and @MARSInc weren’t in use yet. 
  • What do we call the new Skittles online presence? It’s not a true website. Portal, widget, application, channel, presence are all more appropriate descriptions of their new initiative. 
  • Will the new efforts make an impact on sales? @PRSarahEvans posed this question to Twitter in a TwitPoll . Early results showed 63% of responders say Skittles makeover does not make them more likely to buy Skittles. 

The “who owns your brand” discussion is a popular one within social media circles, and I expect the Skittles initiative to spark another round of it. But I’m mostly curious to see if Skittles.com will change or be modified before the buzz dies down. 

One last thought – I’m not against the new Skittles web campaign. I think its a fresh approach that maybe didn’t consider all the corners (or they did, but don’t care). Skittles and MARS have taken the “everyone owns a pice of your brandmantra and acted literally. They’re telling consumers “what you say and do about us is better than what we can tell you”…although this also has the feeling of “we’re saving thousands in web development dollars”. Skittles deserves Kudos for their unique approach, but I don’t expect to see it copied soon.

Get busy and learn!

I’m creating a new list of places to educate yourself about social media, social networking, digital marketing, PR 2.0 and whatever else you want to call it. This list is in the spirit of #followfriday on Twitter (which I’ve been tagged in but never reciprocated, sorry!) and in response to questions about where to find more about social media. This is by no means a comprehensive or final list — there is no easy way to rank the 900+ people I follow on Twitter and the (seemingly) 100+ blogs and emails I try to stay up with. (I’ve even avoided going back to Tweet Deck b/c I think it’ll take a day to organize all the people and keywords I’m following!)

I attempted this last year, in the form of my favorite PR blogs. In the [near] future, I hope to publish more specific lists for those of you interested in just social media, sports marketing, golf-industry, young professionals, corporate examples or something else. For now, though, here’s a list (mostly from the top-of-my-head) of where to start if you want to get busy and start learning.

Who to Follow on Twitter:

(tip- if you haven’t already, get to www.twitter.com and sign up. Follow these people and follow the people they are following and talking to. Follow whatever interests you, say hi to a few people along the way and make Twitter usable for you.)

What to read, whether on the site, in email or your RSS reader:

I’ve left off a ton of people who are probably just as deserving of a shoutout. Feel free to nominate more sources of wisdom and knowledge in the comments and I’ll update this list accordingly.

Let’s start Social Media Club JAX!

After living here for seven months, I’ve come to love lots of things about Jacksonville. One thing, though, keeps me wishing I was still back in Portland — the passionate, engaged tech (geek) and social media community that thrives in PDX.

I know the same like-minded people are here in Jacksonville too. I know because I twitter with them, read their blogs and met a few at BlogOrlando last month. I want to take the steps to build a Social Media Club Jacksonville. The club will be a place for all interested people, from Twitterati to bloggers, geeks to PR pros and newbies, to come together and create our own community. I think Jacksonville will embrace and support a SMC Jax, as soon as we get it going. smc_logo_clean

I’ve chosen Social Media Club as the umbrella organization because it is led by some of the top minds in this space, clubs have been established all over the USA (and world now), and I believe in helping their missions succeed. SMC is on Twitter at @socialmediaclub and on FriendFeed.

The efforts of SMC Jax will be low key to start and we will need everyone’s help to get it rolling in 2009. So far, there’s an email address (smcjax at gmail dot com), Twitter account (@smcjax) and wiki page to begin sharing updates and collecting interest. I’d like to have a breakfast meetup to gauge interest on Saturday, November 22nd. Since I’m new to the area, I don’t know all the best breakfast spots or even the best area to meet. Please vote in poll below the best location for you to meet up. Feel free to suggest specific locations in the comments, keeping in mind we’ll need meet at a place with a table for 10-12 people (I’m optimistic), is somewhat inexpensive, and (most importantly) has great breakfasts.

Please spread the word and start thinking about what SMC Jax could mean to you. This is our community and we can build it as such! If you have questions, feel free to contact me on Twitter or via email. I’ll post more updates here as we get more info.

Taking in all of Blog Orlando

It’s the end of the day at Blog Orlando (@blogorlando, as we’ve been typing all day) and I’m just now logging into my blog to post a “hey I’m here, it is great” update. Blog Orlando has been a totally different experience than I anticipated, but in very positive ways. No, I didn’t hit all the sessions I wanted to. No, I haven’t met all the people I was hoping to (yet). Yes, I’m tired and dreading the two-hour drive back to Jacksonville tnoight.

The sessions and session leaders have been terrific. So have the audiences, as participation is also key to a good unconference. The conversation channels on Twitter allowed us to keep a pulse on what other sessions were talking about too. To get a feel for what that’s like, try searching BlogOrlando on Twitter Search and reading the updates.

I plan to publish my notes as soon as my mind stops buzzing long enough to put some concise thoughts into them and make them share-worthy. I attended sessions on Shiny New Objects, Internal Training, Southwest Airlines Blog, Online Video, and the Orlando Scene, along with two awesome keynotes…so my thoughts on these are forthcoming. If you also have posted recaps relating to Blog Orlando or the sessions, get me the links so I can also repost them. We’ve re-ignited buzz today, let’s keep it going!

Surfin’ down to Blog Orlando

This weekend I”ll be attending Blog Orlando 3 at Rollins College. It’s a one day un-conference for the Central Florida community of new media avids to come together, share and learn new things. It’ll be my first Blog Orlando experience (I only moved to Florida five months ago) and I’m excited to see what its all about.

One of my big picture to-do items for the remainder of 2008 is to increase my contributions to my online communities. I’ve spent the last 12-16 months reading, studying and asking questions about social media, PR 2.0 and the like. My experiences so far have been life-changing, literally. Before I left Oregon, I started helping others learn more about the theories, tools and getting started in new media. Lately though, my focus on giving back has been more internally driven. Learning a new side of business, a new company culture and starting to make my footprints here have set me back in giving into my online communities as much as I would like. Hence, another reason why I’m excited to attend Blog Orlando.

I don’t get many weekends in Orlando, so I plan on taking full advantage. I figure the solo trip is an excuse to start my Couch Surfing adventures on the East Coast. The Orlando CS community isn’t as large as those on the left coast, but I get the impression it’s a hospitable one. I’m also hoping to check out Halloween Horror at Universal Studios one night, as I heard it is a can’t miss scare-fest. I recently purchased annual passes to Sea World and Universal that I might use on Sunday if I can round up a group to go with (no one likes to see Shamu alone!)

In short, I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s adventures. I follow many of the speakers at Blog Orlando on Twitter, including Sarah Perez, David Alston and Phil Gomes, and look forward to seeing them in person. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@ltbeyer) to connect before/during Blog Orlando or to get updates from the sessions. I’ll also be posting news, recaps and notes here as I can.