How does one get started?
Despite the well publicized mainstreaming of social media, many companies are still on the sidelines about getting on board. Whether the inaction comes from fear, ignorance, doubt or a carefully considered choice, the issue with getting started today is that the options continue to multiply and the plethora of choices (despite the omnipresence of Facebook) can be daunting. This is true for any size of organization — not just the small companies. If you and your marketing team have not been keeping up to date with the latest initiatives and evolutions, the task of taking of the plunge can seem gargantuanly confusing. Moreover, the less familiar you are with the different options, benefits and codes of behavior, the more challenging it is becoming to step in and make an impact.
A simple road map
So, for those who do want to get plugged in at this moment in time, below is a simple road map which I like to suggest to my clients. Naturally, the services I mention are the best in my mind today, but it is a fast-changing landscape and newer/better services will crop up. I would certainly welcome your contributions to this post.
- Start by listening to the conversation. Put in place a few simple email notifications. Find out where your clients and prospects are dialoguing. Listen to what they have to say. Where and what are your competition up to? If you are signed up for Facebook and/or have a Twitter account, I suggest a couple of practical email-based services such as example Nutshellmail (especially for Facebook, and also does Twitter updates) and socialoomph (especially good for Twitter). Without needing to sign up to a specific social media platform, you can also use Google Alert services. Listening is, in any event, the most valuable sales skill there is.
- Secondly, you need to define your objectives and allocate accordingly long-term resources. What is it that you would like to achieve with social media and, importantly, why do you want to do this via social media as opposed to other more traditional means? People, without a doubt, are the number one resource in social media marketing. Identify the “facebook friendly” people in your organization. Twitterers and bloggers are probably even better resources.
- Start small, but start soon. Launch, learn and iterate. This is what I like to term the Beta Myndset. It is vital to allow for mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, you are not trying hard enough! To move from observation into action (joining the conversation), I recommend two activities with which to start. (a) Comment on other people’s blogs, forums and pages. Aside from getting in some practice, you are beginning to create your eReputation. (b) The second action is to sign up for a service that allows you to publish content in the form of re-publication: typically called curation. Without being a plagiarist, you are establishing yourself as a resource for a given topic, where your expertise is related to your ability to find and filter the good from the bad and to provide a one-stop place for anyone interested in staying up to date on that topic. My preferred service is scoop.it which is truly ideal for publishing on multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin…) with basically just two easy clicks. You can also consider a daily journal such as paper.li.
- At this stage, you are ready to engage further…
The above steps can take literally a couple of months to enable you and the senior management team to whet their appetite. The investment in money is zilch. The investment in time is manageable. The next phase, toward creating a more engaged conversation, requires another level of commitment while providing another level of “return.” The next phase requires a closer examination of the objectives
Five tips for taking the plunge:
- Be disciplined in your time allocation.
- Consider yourself a creator or publsher of [good] content.
- Focus on what information the client is going to be interested in getting.
- Don’t be self promotional.
- Be open and ready to learn. Yes, there is plenty of c**p out there, but there’s also a whole of lot of fantastic information.
Anyone like to disagree or add to this, please do offer up your thoughts!
As Minter well mentioned it above, a social media marketing road map is a must do wether you run a small or a global business:
– it will help you define the first shape of a so called "social media strategy"
– then, it will help you open doors to discover new tools and features provided by Facebook, but not only, Google has wide marketings channels such as Google Trends, Google Analytics, Google Adwords center can help you organize your keywords group in case if you manage a blog…
And my least but not last final point is to start as soon as you can, even if you feel dumb, but start organizing, it's really important.
@Yael, what is interesting is that the roadmap is applicable to both big and small companies. In the big companies, the path needs to be broken down to smaller sub-entities.
And, it's very true that in starting the process, you begin to discover new tools and possibilities with a bit of serendipity. It's a fast changing world and new stuff is coming out of the woodwork all the time!