My friend, social media expert Mirna Bard, recently wrote a really great blog about getting started with social media, and I’ve pasted a portion of it below. If you’re confused and overwhelmed when it comes to networking your business online, this is a must-read.
Looking Beyond the Hype to Get Started with Social Media
If you want to succeed with social media, as many brands have, there are some action steps you must take before you dive into the world of social media. So, let’s strip away all the hype and go through the right steps that must be taken to help you determine if social media is appropriate for your business.
If you go through the following 10 steps in the order I list them, you will gain clarity, save time and reduce social media overwhelm.
1. Be open-minded and change the traditional way you communicate with customers, employees, investors, partners, the media, etc. As an entrepreneur, it is important to create a social mind-set for relationship marketing, networking, engaging and collaborating.
2. Educate yourself and become familiar with all the categories of social media and how they can be integrated together as well as the entire marketing mix in order to leverage and maximize your efforts (see diagram below for all 15 social media categories).
3. Pinpoint existing resources that may be needed for social media (employees, time, budget, tools, etc.).
4. Determine if you have weaknesses in your business that may potentially hurt you online (i.e., poorly designed website or no website, bad customer service, weak content, negative comments from customers, etc.)
5. Determine if you have strengths in your business that you can leverage online (i.e., available content such as videos, e-Books, or brand lovers who are already talking about you, etc.)
6. See what your competitors are doing with social media. Just observe and takes notes; do not be a copy-cat.
7. Identify your target audience, and determine when and where they hang out online.
8. Set clear goals and objectives. Goals are general statements (i.e., “We want to leverage social media to improve customer service”). Objectives are more specific and measurable (i.e., “By December 2010, we want to triple traffic to our website and increase sales by 20 percent”).
9. Decide what you want to use social media for (i.e., prospecting, recruiting, customer service, etc.) and how you want to engage your online audience. Do you want to use social media for communication, collaboration, education, entertainment or all of them?
10. Based on what you came up with in the last nine steps, select the social media categories and tools you want to use. You can take a look at the diagram below for just some example of tools. You will have to do some research online for all the tools that exist for each social media category.
There are many more factors to consider before putting together a strategy; however, if done properly, these steps will give you a clear picture of the social media landscape and help you determine whether social media is right for your business or not.
If you have already taken these steps, please share your success in the comments below.
*Mirna Bard is a social media consultant, an instructor of social media at University of California, Irvine, and a keynote speaker. She also gives social media tips and advice on her blog http://www.mirnabard.com/blog.