Let's not waste time on pleasantries. This guide summarizes just about everything I know about internet marketing with social media in as few words as possible. Don't waste another second on information overload. Read this and get started.
1. Get it Before You Do it
Real quick, you need to get what social media is before you can make the most of it.
- It's not a broadcast medium. It's more like the telephone, but with a larger number of people.
- It's not about audience size. It's about business relationships and customer retention.
- It's not your online home. It's a place your business goes to hang out.
- It's not for advertising. It's for relationship building.
2. Start a Blog
Don't skip this step. You will regret it. There is a very good chance today's social networks will one day collapse and be replaced by the next big thing. You want a following that goes beyond a number of "likes" or "followers." In other words, an audience.
3. Produce Content
If you can hire somebody with content production experience, do it. If you can't, take this advice (and make sure anybody you hire does as well):
- Do a bit of keyword research to go after search terms that haven't been used up yet.
- Research your topic in depth and pull data from sources that other people aren't willing to look through. Better yet, write from personal experience.
- Be comprehensive but don't be wordy. Use subtitles and bulleted lists and tell your reader exactly what they need to know, or use anecdotes and write in a story driven format that keeps people riveted.
- Don't be too formal. Be yourself but don't write about yourself.
- Write to illicit emotions, to inform, and to surprise.
- Use images. Pay for them or pull them from Creative Commons. Either way, give credit.
4. Set Up Accounts
- Set up accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Fill in every field. Use a compelling image or your own face in your profiles. Make sure the image is discernible when small.
- Do not confuse your Facebook profile for your Facebook page. Using a Facebook profile to market is against the rules.
- Consider setting up accounts on Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr, and Quora.
- Search for internet forums related to your industry and consider setting up full profiles on them as well.
- Don't get overwhelmed. Have accounts on all of these, but focus most of your efforts on just one of them to start.
5. Find Influential People
- Go to Amazon and search for books in your field. Look up the authors' social accounts and subscribe.
- Search Twitter for your keywords and look for people who are experts in the topic with a large following that actually retweets and comments on what they have to say.
- Search Facebook for pages that related to your keywords.
- Search Google for posts like "Top 10 Blogs About [keyword]" and so on.
6. Contact Influential People
- Reach out to influencers with an opportunity for them.
- Answer questions asked by influencers.
- Share something with an influencer they didn't know but would be interested to know.
- DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE EMAIL OR THE TELPEHONE TO DO THIS
7. Share Content
Do this at the same time you are reaching out to influencers.
- Share your blog posts.
- Create bite-sized pieces of content meant to be shared only on your social accounts.
- Ask your audience questions.
- Share images.
- Share surprising information you come across, even if it's not your own content.
- Hold polls.
- Get people responding and viewing your content. When they do, the algorithms adjust you to show up more often in their streams (not true for Twitter).
- Don't be afraid to ask for people to respond, if you can do it without pleading.
- Avoid sharing too often or risk fatiguing your audience.
- RESPOND TO COMMENTS FREQUENTLY (but not necessarily every single one).
8. Leverage Influential People
Work on mutually beneficial projects with influencers such as:
- Interviewing them on your blog.
- Guest posting on their blog, or visa versa.
- Creating an infographic for them.
- Showcasing their work on your blog.
- Sharing and linking to each other's content.
When influencers start sharing your content, even if it just so happens to benefit them, you know you are doing something right.
9. Rinse and Repeat
- Keep contacting influencers
- Keep producing content
- Keep sharing content
- Keep collaborating with others
- Keep asking and answering questions
Remember, online marketing with social networks is all about building relationships. Without them, all the "followers" in the world are meaningless. You need people to get excited about your online presence.
Do you have a social networking strategy? Do you have questions, or anything to add?
Image credit: Eliot Phillips