It happens just about every week. Someone asks me about social media because they are confused as a result of hearing some mumbo-jumbo. There are way too many “experts” complicating simple matters. Social media is very easy to understand if you get in the right frame of mind.
So here goes … let me give you the same straightforward lesson I ran through earlier this week.
Let’s start with the diagram below:
Your brand is at the core of it all. According to the American Marketing Association dictionary, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Everything starts with the product or service you have and the identity you build for that product/service. You set the tone.
As we look for a target audience to socialize a brand, the brand must have value and distinction. Think about how you tell your friends about the places you go, the products you use, the services that make your life simpler. If you have a strong product/service value, chances are they will be talked about in a positive light and recommended. If you have a weak offering, your short comings will be socialized. Social media can not control your brand perception. Social media magnifies users’ experiences.
Once you have developed a strong product and distinct branding around that product, then you need a content strategy. Think like a publisher. A publisher worries about producing content that people like and want to read or view. They create ways to make sure people come back and consume more. Your content should address specific areas of interest for your target market and not necessarily talk about your brand. The topics you cover should be tangentially related to your offerings. If you produce compelling content on a regular basis, you have the opportunity to engage with your audience. You have the opportunity to stay top of mind with regards to your brand. And you have an added reason for people to share some aspect of your brand. Content sharing is part of every day life and if the content that is shared is associated with your brand, that increases brand awareness and word of mouth marketing. Do not under estimate the importance of content as part of your marketing and social media strategy and plan.
Once you have a solid content foundation and plan, then you are ready to start thinking about social media. Not before. Go out and engage in conversations relevant to your brand. I guarantee you that you will get in a conversation that hits on an area that you have covered in one of your pieces. You can then refer someone to that piece.
When you have content, you can post references to them, tweet about them. This starts the sharing momentum. Do not be disillusioned at slow starts. It takes time to build a reputation for having valued content that people share and refer back to. But stick with it.
From a tactical perspective, make sure that your content is easy to share. Consider social buttons and widgets incorporated on all your communication and content.
As you start to see your content getting shared, you will find specific people that actively share your pieces on a regularly basis. You start to develop advocates. Make sure you reach out to them and say thanks. Engage with them one on one. Learn more about things that matter to them. Your advocates are not only the greatest ambassadors of your brand, but they also help you shape your brand such that it is stronger and of greater value for your target audience. (On a personal note, I have been blessed with a number of great advocates of my content. A big shout out and thank you to @easyleads, @Cannes53, @mantispulse, @dbvickery, @design58, @socialgreg, @ideaqueen30, @derekreesenyc, @TonyaHallRadio, @mikepoynton just to name a few, that have been advocates of my work.)
What I have defined here is really the mindset for a successfully integrated marketing – social media effort. If you want to dive into content strategy here are some other recommended article I wrote:
If you are interested in increasing your engagement with your target audience to increase sharing and advocacy please check out:
* The Most Important Word for Marketing
* Why the Social Media Person Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
* Digital PR and Outreach for Important Social Media Conversations
Winning social media is within your grasp. Don’t over complicate it!
Make It Happen,