Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Social Media (Twitter et al) *but were afraid to ask

In the last post, I gave an overview of an Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) plan, and how qualitative research can work in tandem with it to help you learn more about your customers, members, or audience.

Today we’ll drill down a bit and look at how to use social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter, as part of that plan. (These are also sometimes called Web 2.0.) I like to emphasize that these are “part” of the plan. Often people think that simply having a Facebook page is the plan.

But remember the holistic nature of IMC. It’s possible that other tools will also help to meet your goals as well as, and sometimes more effectively than, social media. I like what Tony Hsieh of Zappos says: “Embarking on a social media strategy to help with marketing is like embarking on a facial muscle strategy to help with smiling.” You gotta have the whole face (and body!) involved.

First, if you do decide to include social media tools in your plan, I suggest focusing your efforts on the top three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are other choices out there, but these three are the most popular and road-tested.

Why even use social media? One good reason: There are more than 400 million active Facebook users. If even just .00001 percent of them are part of your ideal audience, having a presence on FB means that you’re able to reach 4,000 potential new members or customers. (I hope I got the math right on that.) And it’s free. Hard to pass that up!

Another good reason is that it gives you access to a specialized stream of information that you probably couldn’t otherwise find, the kind of information that’s related to your field or interest and can enhance your work, and can also help you learn more about your ideal audience and how to connect with them.

The more skilled you get in using social media, the more you’ll learn how to tweak your information streams so that they give you what you are looking for and filter out what you don’t need.

The most common resistance people have to using FB, Twitter, and LI is that they worry about getting sucked into a time drain. That certainly can happen, but it doesn’t have to. It’s actually possible to devote as little as 20 minutes a week to social media and use it very effectively in the service of your business or organizational goals.

There are some basic guidelines that will help you optimize your use of these tools:

  • The golden rule of reciprocity – if someone follows you, follow them back.
  • More is better. You’ll only realize the full benefits of social media as you acquire more followers… there is an exponential effect that helps to spread word of mouth through these networks.
  • Remember that you are building your brand with every post, so be mindful and strategic in the content that you share.

I’ve learned much of what I know from George Kao, a social media and productivity coach. George offers an excellent free teleseminar to show you the ropes, which I highly recommend. I’m giving you a bare-bones outline here; George is a master of the medium. Check him out – you won’t regret it.

Next time: One Big Secret for Managing All That Information (hint: it involves an owl)

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3 responses to “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Social Media (Twitter et al) *but were afraid to ask

  1. Thanks for your kind mention, Maia. You use social media more productively than most people I know! Glad to see you sharing your wisdom here on this blog.

  2. Hi,
    Linked-In keeps telling me I should know you, but can’t remember if I actually do or not…. one of the downsides of so much social media! But what you’re saying is really interesting to me… I’m involved with a totally non-profit, all-volunteer meditation center in my area that uses web/email almost exclusively for connecting with students, and am wondering about expanding into these other media…

    So thanks for the blog and I’ll delve a little more into it…

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for connecting, via this blog. Your name sounds familiar to me as well… were you ever involved in the Buddhist Peace Fellowship?

    I’m happy to be a resource if you want to learn more about social media to connect with students. Just let me know! You can reach me at maia@fivedirectionsconsulting.com

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