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Social Media 101: Where Do I Start?

Social Media 101: Where Do I Start?

As someone who specializes in the online marketing arena, I meet and chat with people everyday who are interested in using social media to market their business.  Not a big surprise right?  But what you might be surprised to learn, is many of these medium-to-large firms have a major problem: they don’t know how to start.

While social media marketing advice can be found on every corner of the internet, most of it doesn’t address this problem or offer ways to enhance or “reinvigorate” an existing campaign.

So in this article I want to push aside the “Go Get ‘Em Tiger”s and technical mumbo jumbo and provide you with a fool proof step-by-step 101 list to get your social media marketing campaign underway in no time flat!

Let’s dive right in:

Step 1: Write Down Your Objectives

The first thing you’ll want to do is really identify what you are trying to achieve through using social media to market your company.  Keep in mind that more leads is not your only goal.  Think about possible objectives such as; engaging your current customers/clients, offering better customer service, building brand recognition, getting more local exposure….these are the types of objectives that you should be looking at.

Step 2: Know Who Your Target Market Is

A social media marketing campaign that is laser focused has the ability to reap better results than a broad shoot campaign.  You don’t want to waste time here wading through unqualified leads….you want the real deal.  Make a list of 5-10 target markets that you want to hit and keep it handy throughout your campaign.  Having this list will help you keep your “eye on the prize”.

Step 3: Look at What Your Competition is Doing on Social Media

Many of us do a competitive analysis when we put together our marketing plan….so why don’t we do one when we are developing our social media marketing strategy?  Usually the easiest way to begin this exercise is to go to their website and follow their social media links from there.  If you can’t find the links there, login to sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and search for their company name.  When you find them, see what they are doing and if it is successful.  Are they getting lots of comments?  Do they use lots of graphics and design elements?  Are they posting often?  Taking a look at these items can even give you good solid ideas of what you need to do…and what you don’t need to.

Step 4: What Are You Going to Say?

This is one of the trickiest things to come by as many organizations don’t have a wealth of available info to share.  If your company does – the battle is nearly over!  If not, it has just begun.  Make sure that you are able to come up with content that is timely, engaging, entertaining, thought provoking and educational…or one of those 5.  Also, think out of the box!  If I was a healthcare organization, I would go to the website for the medical association that is within my niche and share some of their updates and tips, as they would be relevant and interesting to my audience.  Sharing is caring….not stealing!  But content is king folks.

Step 5: Choose Your Sites

Once Steps 1 thru 5 are complete, it is time to choose the social media sites you want to start using in your marketing campaign.  Every business is different and some will find success quicker on one site than the next.  There isn’t a hard/fast rule on this (while many say there is).  All of the sites are constantly evolving and making it easier for businesses to get involved everyday.  The playing field has changed greatly over the past years (and even months!) and there is a spot for everyone on all of the social media sites out there.

Step 6: Find a Good Support Site

Search and find a site to help you manage your accounts. There are free sites out there such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, SocialOomph and others that allow you to track, search and even schedule profile updates on the fly.  When you create your plan, these sites will make it a little easier for you to manage your overall campaign.

Step 7: Create a Daily Plan to Ensure Consistency

Plans save time and money and ensure consistency, which is key in a successful social media marketing campaign.  Your daily plan should contain a combination of Steps 1-6 and have daily time constraints attached.  Also make sure that you identify who will be the touchpoint for the communications that you get as a result of the campaign.  For example if you have a marketing team of 5, decide beforehand who will be in charge of delegation and qualification of the leads, information requests, comments, etc.

Step 8: Create a Form of Measurement

This is tricky, so I would suggest waiting until after your first month of social media marketing.   At this point you will be able to see what sorts of results come in: website hits, likes, comments, messages, leads, etc.  Once you get a handle on this, you will begin to understand what gives you the best results.  Create a quick spreadsheet and track these measures on a weekly basis.  As all of the sites have wonderful archives, it makes it a cinch to go back through the week’s activity to find what you need.  If you are going to use your website to track effectiveness, make sure that you have an analytics program installed that can monitor where your traffic comes from.  If you don’t, Google Analytics is a free and easy option to use (and the results are tracked wonderfully).

And you are on your way!  The best part about social media marketing is that it is an organic process that can change from time to time.  Don’t forget to audit your campaign monthly to see if any of your measures or activities need changing or updating.  Staying consistent, organized and informed will help you not only launch effectively, but promote your brand successfully.

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