We could write an entire book on how to be successful in social media. At the end of this chapter, you will find The PR Method, an easy to follow a process for integrating social marketing into any professional career or business. Social marketing is both complex and simple. There are a few pieces of advice that apply to everyone:
- Set goals and develop a plan
- Commit to constantly learning, as social sites are constantly evolving
- Be aware and conscious of your time as a valuable resource
- Mind your manners and do not adopt a spam attitude
- Understand the difference between sites and post/interact accordingly
Recommended Social Media:
Twitter is considered a “micro-blogging” site. Using a series of posts, a user “tweets” to their “followers” 140 characters of text. You can use links, attach photos and “mention” other people in your tweets. This happens in what is considered “real time,” so therefore it is very time sensitive. Meaning, you will not be successful on Twitter if you post once per month, or even once per week. People who are active on twitter have a constant stream of information coming and going. Businesses can now buy or pay for “promoted tweets” which has not yet been established as a significant marketing tool.
- Twitter is for those who wish to be active on social media on a daily basis. If you shy away from or are too busy to use your phone as your main source of communication, then Twitter may not be right for you. If you have a marketing staff, then delegating the management of the Twitter account would be wise.
Facebook is the premier social networking site. The one that started it all in some regards. What started as a personal sharing site, has turned into a huge marketing vehicle for businesses. For relatively low costs (compared to print or television advertising) you can connect with customers and businesses all over the world essentially for free. While there is a significant time commitment and a few resources that would be beneficial, a computer savvy entrepreneur can conduct vast marketing campaigns for a few dollars. Facebook is changing all of the time and there are many tools that have to be fully understood: Pages, Groups, and personal Profiles. Businesses interact differently than people on Facebook, so it is imperative that you understand the differences.
- Tip: Facebook is user-friendly and so convenient that if you only select one social media outlet, this should be the one. I recommend both a personal profile and a company page – do not make your personal profile your company name. Once you understand the tools available, you will want to have a company page to connect with customers and advertise. Facebook makes it easy to manage all of this from one account.
LinkedIn is the premier professional networking site. It is essentially an online Rolodex and resume service, but with all of the social sharing tools that we have come to expect. Once you have your profile (summary of your work history) set up you can connect with others that you know via email or through the site. It is fairly strictly monitored so that you are really only connecting with those that you know (versus Facebook or Twitter which do not track these at all.) Using Groups you can connect with broad or niche professional groups. Once “connected” you are free to share updates or news with your connections. These can be set to be viewed by the general public or just by your professional connections. You can add feeds from Twitter and incorporate blogs, slides, projects and other professional information from outside sources.
- LinkedIn is for connecting with your peers or potential clients on a professional level. Consider it the online version of an industry conference. Show up prepared to network, not necessarily to sell a product. This is where you can discuss trends in your market, learn from others and provide great client service to your vendors and associates. Many people find jobs on LinkedIn, so this is where your peers are expecting to see your professional best, not personal, best.
Instagram is a photo sharing social media site where people follow each other to view photos. You cannot just post text, there has to be an image, so Instagram is super visual. Advertising is now allowed on the platform, but for the individual or freelancer, it is best to start with an account and build a list of followers. For Instagram to be successful you need to be able to and feel comfortable taking lots of photos. Everyone does this from their phone and posts as life happens in real time.
Pinterest is also a photo sharing social media site where people follow each other and view photos or pins (like you pin a photo of something you like on your bulletin board). You cannot just post text, there has to be an image, so Pinterest is super visual. The difference is that you can have boards, so you post and collect pins by topics. Advertising is now allowed on the platform, but for the individual or freelancer, it is best to start with an account and build a list of followers for each board. For Pinterest to be successful you need to spend time looking through other pins (photos) and sharing or saving those. It is much easier to rely on others for pins, so this easily falls into the shared PESO category.
Want details? Read through the steps of The PR Method here:
The PR Method: Branding Basics
The PR Method: PR Tactics
The PR Method: Media Relations
The PR Method: Social Success
The PR Method: Blogging Basics
The PR Method: PR Prognosis
The PR Method: PR Formula