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Social Media Best Practices - Twitter & Facebook

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     The current buzz around the marketing world is “Social Media Marketing” or “SMM”. Many companies are having great success while others are still struggling to either get momentum going or still vying with executives for permission to pursue this uncharted course. So what exactly is the best way to get your social media efforts up and running?

Getting everyone on board
      
      While research is showing more and more consumers are using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, there are still a few marketers who are skeptical on these mediums. I believe the biggest culprit of this skepticism is misunderstanding. As marketers we see the purpose and potential of utilizing such budget friendly outlets to engage current clientele while attracting new ones.

     “Our client's don't use Twitter/Facebook”

Are you sure? In October 2009, Twitter announced their user growth grew 200% between the years 2008-2009. The numbers skyrocketed from 6 million to 18 million with a projected growth to reach 26 million world wide by the end of 2010. Facebook also announced earlier in 2009 that their number of users world wide had reached 200 million. With these numbers increasing daily can you really afford not to get started in social media? Pair these numbers along side the fact that search engines are placing social media content in search results; this is another way to get your website to the coveted first page.

     “We don't want to hire someone to spend hours a day on Twitter/Facebook”

It takes literally five minutes or less to get a new account established on either. Not to mention a member of the marketing team can pick up this task with no need to hire on additional personnel. As soon as news, events, or products come out each social outlet is as easy to update as cut and paste. Even if your company has several divisions of which need separate accounts, online tools such as “Tweet Deck” allow users to control multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook with the click of a mouse shortening the amount of time online. Find reliable news sources for your industry and bookmark them, so when you need something current there is no last minute searching.

     “We tried it once, it didn't really work out”

How much effort was put in to the initial push? It takes more than a few months of updating once a week to gain momentum for results to start pouring in. I'd recommend updating three times a day, morning – noon – late afternoon every day of the work week, again I refer to tools such as “Tweet Deck” and bookmarking reliable sources to minimize time when updating. Even though your company is a big force in reality, in the digital realm new formed accounts have zero respect and authority. Time is the biggest obstacle for any newcomer to the digital arena. Planning out when company updates/promotions/product announcements go out and when you will need to use industry news will also shorten online time. Anyone promoting shortcuts such as, “Pay us $49.99 and we'll get you 10,000 Twitter Followers within a month” is a way to quickly end any online efforts to market your business. Remember this equation, “The amount of effort exerted + time of effort = amount of success”.

Using Social Media Marketing

      So you've got a Twitter or Facebook account up and going, now what? No one is following you on Twitter and the Facebook Fan page doesn't have any activity on it. Before giving up, take some time to re-focus and think. Ask yourself, “Why are we using these accounts?”, “Are we using them the way we intended?”.

     “We tweet and update Facebook as our company announces a new product or event.”

While it is good to promote events and products via social media, it shouldn't be the only thing you are posting.

Part of social media marketing is not only increasing your awareness, you also wish (or you should wish) to raise awareness of knowledge and authoritativeness in your market. There are several ways to accomplish this:

Re-tweet or create links to current articles pertaining to your industry.
Post any case studies you've successfully done.
Invite guest authors to write a special post.

 “No one re-tweets us or interacts on our Fan Page”

A big part of social media is to be SOCIAL. Social is defined as, “Friendly companionship or relations. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.” If all your doing is updating, re-tweeting and using a generic method to invite others you aren't being very social.
Follow others on Twitter, even if they don't follow you at first they might later.
Track down current customers, industry partners and trend setters
Don't follow potential customers, if the tweets are good enough, they will find you.
Encourage your customers to participate
Post relevant comments on other blogs, fan pages and re-tweet appropriate tweets. If you read a blog, or something on another Fan Page be sincere. Stray away from comments such as, “Great Post!” or “Hey that sounds like a good idea”.
Re-tweets from other accounts can not only show some respect to others (and may garner someone to re-tweet yours), but when you need to get another tweet up it can save some time.

     “We update as often as time allows”

Set a schedule and stick to it.
Research your customer base to find out what time of the day their time is spent online and plan updates accordingly. The freshest tweets show up first, and the sooner visitors can find information the better.
Involve multiple members of the marketing team.
Show the diversity of your company.
More than one person needs to know how to access the accounts and create relevant interesting updates.

     “How will we know if what we are posting is good content?”

Listen to your audience.
As you journey along the path to having successful social media campaigns you may gain insight from customers and others who participate, take every word whole-heartily. Any interaction an individual can get from a company is a good opportunity to make a good impression.
The number of followers/members will grow.
Outside of inviting people to join, when you generate good content people will take notice and want more of it.
Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to monitor where the traffic is coming from

      In closing I'll go ahead and admit that by the time most people read this, another popular social medium may be out, new tactics might be used and, who knows, the internet might disappear (Al Gore would be so disappointed!).

Regardless of what might be current, the point is to stay current. Don't wait for the next article to pop up and tell you what to do in order to be successful. Search for trustworthy resources that post content on social media marketing. By being proactive in your social media methods you won't have to be reactive when it's too late.


Sources for Twitter & Facebook Stats:
http://mashable.com/2009/09/14/twitter-2009-stats/
http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=72353897130
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11 Comments
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
Great article - it has my "Yes" vote above!
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:Jenn Prentice
I have been meaning to write an article like this for EE for a few weeks, but it appears that seiko_08 has beat me to it..and done a much better job than I could have done.  

Nice article! I especially liked the tips and tactics provided under each "quote."  Very useful, and I plan to share with others!
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:Joshua Titsworth
Thanks Jenn, I appreciate the kind words! I was writing up a piece for some clients of Chemidex who wanted to get Twitter accounts up and going so when I finished I looked at it and went, "Well since I'm here...".
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Build a website from the ground up by first learning the fundamentals of HTML5 and CSS3, the two popular programming languages used to present content online. HTML deals with fonts, colors, graphics, and hyperlinks, while CSS describes how HTML elements are to be displayed.

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Expert Comment

by:Jenn Prentice
That is awesome! I'd love to see more of your work on the site! It's so applicable!
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:BMilneSLO
Good stuff seiko_08,

Thanks for the contribution. Voted yes above.

 "Part of social media marketing is not only increasing your awareness, you also wish (or you should wish) to raise awareness of knowledge and authoritativeness in your market."

Be an Expert. Just as you've done here. Thanks again for raising awareness and sharing your knowledge of SMM.
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Expert Comment

by:Articles101
seiko_08,


Yes; thank you for this nice article.  It got my vote above.

This article is great for those who have a good familiarity with Social Media Marketing (SMM),  and it helps support those who are already trying to promote it.  But, for those many executives and small business owners, SMM is a mystery that needs a good introduction for its justification.  It's not a "current buzz " for them.  Moreover, those trying to promote it need supporting materials that can help explain the benefits.  

I think it would be very helpful to have another article that gives more of an introduction for a wider audience.  One that explains how SMM is used on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and gives some examples.  Better yet, that article would also be an up-to-date guide telling some basic do's and don'ts.

If you authored that introductory article then you could cross-reference both articles and increase your views.


Articles101
EE's Articles Admin
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:Joshua Titsworth
@BMilneSLO - I first adopted this concept from working in the non profit industry. Sure non profits help others, but how many has established themselves as experts in that particular sector? For some grants it can be a deciding factor.

@Articles101 - This article was focused at professionals already in the SMM field. I'm working with on a few pieces right now, one of which is an intro article to social media, meant for a client, but one that I'll end up re-organizing for an article on EE.
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Expert Comment

by:Articles101
Thanks seiko_08,

Looking forward to seeing another nice article from you.
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Expert Comment

by:RjFx
Great article... I plan on using it to educate my company's leadership as it applies to our web strategy.

Loved the layout and organization -- it allowed me to skim and get the gist of the article.  It made me want to read it in depth.  

Seiko_o8:  Can you write more articles for us?  You took something that was complicated and made it simple.  That's the tech writing of the future, today.

Keep up the good work.  Voted "Yes" for helpful.
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:Joshua Titsworth
@RjFx - If you enjoyed this article and are considering sharing it with your company's leadership you might also take a look at this one:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/Web_Development/Internet_Marketing/A-Beginners-Guide-to-Social-Media-Marketing.html

Just in case those on the leadership team need a quick look at the different types of social outlets.
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Expert Comment

by:heatherbuckley
As far as setting a schedule and sticking to it goes I couldn't agree more we  provide a free social media schedule to download.

With regard to the comment above about explaining the benefits, I think the easiest and most obvious benefit to get your head around is that search engine optimisation is changing. Now Facebook, Twitter and social bookmarking sites do have a big effect on SEO. Every business know how important good google ranking is. We offer both social media courses and search engine optimisation training, of course!!
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