Introduction To Social Media

We’re now at the stage where we are ready to explore social media. There are two sides to social media that I want us to discuss before you get into the details of what you can do to promote your business on probably the fastest growing marketing platform out there. First of all there’s social bookmarking and secondly there is social media.

Social bookmarking is related to the icons that you’ll have seen on most sites that say “share this.” They might say “like”, or “tweet” or it might just be a Google+1 button or Pinterest button. No matter what format it comes in, it’s a device for others to use in their own social media activity to promote your pages. This relates to the link strategy that we spoke about in a previous chapter. Your website can include social bookmarking even if you and your colleagues don’t have a social media page or profile. It is an SEO tool, not to be mistaken with social media marketing.

Social media marketing is all about you being active on the social networks and promoting yourself and your business. Your activity on social media is likely to fall into two distinct areas. First of all, broadcast. This is where you create highly valuable content and you find a mechanism to share it. We will be going through this in detail throughout this module. Secondly, there is engagement, which is all about conversation.

I’m going to give you some tips on how to engage with others because when it comes to social media, engagement is absolutely critical. If you try and set up a campaign on autopilot where you broadcast out to the masses, it will not work. Social Media is not about that, it is all about engagement with individuals. If they like what you do, they may help to market your message on your behalf to a far greater audience than you can reach alone. So whatever you do, don’t put your social media on autopilot.

It is true that there are tools that can help you become more efficient and we will discuss this later in this section. What needs to be avoided is a social media presence that is made up of automatic retweets, RSS feeds and re-post of other people’s content without any real personalised input. Social media is a great opportunity to reflect the strengths and originality of your company, so make sure you are manually managing it.

A great example of this is Hootsuite. It’s not the only package that you can use, but it’s the one that I use as a social media management platform. Now, what you can do within Hootsuite is manage your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Youtube accounts all on the same platform. This can save you a lot of time on admin, so you can focus on creating great content.

What you don’t want to do is post the same message out to all of those platforms; you’ve got to use the tools cleverly. You’ve got to apply your own common sense and build your own strategy into it, but these tools will help it all become more manageable. So, don’t put it on autopilot, but make use of the tools to help you become more efficient.

My advice is to begin by setting up a content plan. A content plan is all about building up useful and valuable content you could share with others and deciding how best you can promote that. When we get into the individual social media sites, you’ll see that you’ve got Youtube for video, SlideShare for PowerPoint presentations, Flickr or Pinterest for images, Blogger for text etc. You’ve got various different mechanisms that you can use to post and share valuable content in new and interesting ways.

Before we go further, I would really advise that you investigate Hootsuite and decide whether you should set up a HootSuite account. Remember, this type of option helps you to become more efficient in your social media management. You should also spend time working on a content plan, so you have a clear idea of the focus of your communication before you start.