8 Steps to Creating your Austin Social Media Marketing Plan

Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan and an online marketing strategy is vital when making the decision to add social media to your marketing campaigns/plans. A plan is needed to assess the viability, know what steps you will need to take and to aid you in staying focused on your goals.

Your plan can also help you save time by ensuring you follow a systematic approach to the time you will invest in social marketing and networking. The social networking part can easily take you off track and eat up your time if you do not pay attention to the overall picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

Here are the basics steps to any social media plan we setup for clients:

Assess

Look at what is available in your market, what competitors are doing and find out if your customers are in fact using these social media channels. These answers may help you determine your goals.

Purpose

Define your main purpose for using Social Media and identify the various social media channels to use.

Goals

Set at least 3 SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and create an action plan to help you reach these goals. What steps will you take to reach these goals?

Content

Create a plan for what content will be published – blog posts, tweets, Facebook page updates, YouTube videos. This plan should include the type of content and also how often and via what channel it will be published.

Keywords

Part of the content planning would be finding the keywords your customers use when searching for your service or product online. If your business has some technical jargon that customers rarely pick up on – it is unlikely that is how they will search online for the solution to their problem (your service or product). It is imperative to find keywords they are using and add these targeted keywords into your content.

Optimize

Look at all the platforms available and link them together as much as possible to help you save time. Link your blog to twitter and your facebook page so when a blog post is published it will automatically feed an update to the other networks. Be certain to make a flowchart so you understand what automatically goes to what network in order to avoid any cross posting.

Track

As much as you can track your results, do it. Keep a record of your contacts, facebook friends, page likes, twitter followers, Linkedin followers, newsletter subscribers and results on Google for your name, business and keywords. Check the results every month and see how it changes. Read your analytics on your website and adjust keywords/tactics to fit with what is working well or not from these reports. With social media marketing, businesses may set goals related to brand identity and levels of engagement.

Schedule

Take time to schedule in all the aspects of your plan and work at it to keep on top of it, and follow the plan. Stay focused and use your time wisely. If you set aside time every two weeks to schedule some content to go out, then your live networking time can be focused on having conversations online with your contacts.

Following these steps will help you network much more effectively and in a way that does not find you looking up from your computer wondering where the last few hours went. Stay focused and be consistent!!

Post a comment here with any issues you have in creating your plan and I will do my best to help you move forward.

Making Connections with People on LinkedIn

While at the LinkedIn Lunch I attended, one of the topics we discussed was connecting with new contacts on LinkedIn. One of the people had a few comments about the import contacts tool available in LinkedIn.

This tool allows you to import your contacts from Gmail or other email programs. Essentially what it does when you follow the process is to access your email contacts and send a LinkedIn Connection invitation to each one.

While this can be a fast way to build your number of contacts – as with most things in life – even your LinkedIn contacts should be more about quality than quantity. And, one comment that came directly from Steve Watt, LinkedIn Canada’s Marketing manager, was “Even though we have that tool, I don’t recommend using it,” so that may be a good indicator on whether or not you should be using this feature to build your contacts.

There are a few pros and cons to using this tool which I have listed below but, in my opinion, the only one that you need to think about is the ‘Risk’ one I listed.

PROS

  • Takes less time to send invites to connect.
  • Can help build your number of contacts faster.

CONS

  • You don’t send a personal message with these invites – it is a mass sending of the invites.
  • No control over the contacts that get selected from your list.
  • Risk of getting marked as “I do not know this person” by the invitees.

My advice? Don’t do it! The last item in the CONS – “The Risk”, is too much risk.

If your invite gets marked as “I don’t know this person” by too many people, LinkedIn might freeze or suspend your account, which is what happened to the fellow that brought this up at the meeting. It may be possible to have it unfrozen, but that will take time and effort to fix. If you made a point of looking for contacts that fit your market and your ‘Friending Policy’ (your stated policy on who and what type of people you are looking to connect with) then generally you will have little risk of account suspension, or worse.

Decide what type of people you want to connect with and then search them out via your groups, connections or through the Q & A system in LinkedIn. Be on the watch for people that resonate with you and what your goals are for using LinkedIn. Always send a personal invite message letting them know why you would like to connect. Be personal, Be real and Be You!

The Quality of your LinkedIn Profile depends upon you!

If you have any questions about using LinkedIn, feel free to book a strategy session with me to learn how we can help you build a better Linked In Profile and how to network and use this medium to build and grow your business.

Check that Twitter Button on your Blog

Okay, I have seen this happen about eight times this past week. Something may have changed but it is a good reminder for every small business owner to review their own website and blog on a regular basis and CHECK IT OUT!

Today’s tip to check out are the options for social media sharing – specifically the Twitter Retweet options on your blog. If it is not configured properly, then you are missing out on several options for social sharing and reach of your blog posts online.

Steps to see if you are set up properly:

  1. Go to your website and go to your last blog post.
  2. Click the Twitter retweet button you have on your blog (If you don’t have this then be prepared for a lecture on the reason you need to make your blog and website social – and read this blog post on getting your website ready for social sharing! Give website visitors the opportunity to share your info.)
  3. Click to Retweet your blog post.
  4. Review what comes up for the auto post to Twitter.
  5. You want to see the following in it:a. Your twitter ID either as RT @YOU or via @YOU.
    b. A little description of some sort (Generally it will pull up the SEO title you entered for the Blog post.)
    c. The link for the blog post.

Generally what I have found that gets missed the most is your twitter username. You can update this in the settings for the plugin you are using – no matter what type, and if that plugin does not have that option, find one that does.

Why?

The point of the retweet button is so visitors can share your blog post with their twitter followers. If it has no twitter ID for you, the author, then you actually lose out on opportunities for other people o follow you – the people who see this retweet and want to know who wrote the article.

Yes the argument can be made that when they visit the site they can follow me – but if they don’t then they may simply choose to follow from the tweet. Not having your username in the configuration, means you miss these opportunities to connect with other people.

Also when you notice the retweet with your name (Because you are paying attention to that information, right???) it gives you an opportunity to say thanks to someone who was on your website and read your info. If they were interested they are a lead – potentially, not everyone is but it is a better chance they are a lead because they were interested, read and shared the content.

So, homework! GO check your blog setup, test a retweet and fix it up if it is not setup this way.

Facebook Pages: How often should you post updates?

Generally, I teach clients to start out easy when using social media and blogging. It is more to get the skill and confidence level in place and then, as you become more comfortable posting items on your social media channels or blogging, you can start doing it more often.

Content is King and sharing good information online is key to building your online community.

Facebook Pages are a place where I used to recommend posting a few times a week – but reports and experience in the past few months have shown that a few updates every day is actually more beneficial.

Look at this image of Facebook Page insights above and refer to the pink dots. When they get smaller, it means fewer updates were posted. You can see the graph of the ‘reach’ of the page also goes down when that happens. It is fairly clear when you post less, fewer people see your content / business page.

Because social media provides such a continuous stream of updates and not everyone is looking at your updates at every given moment, having more content/updates go out every day increases the chances of more people seeing them, commenting on them or sharing them. It is these comments and sharing that will help your name get out in front of more people – putting the viral and word of mouth marketing into play.

Now don’t panic and think, what can I say? Because I know several of you are already stressed about what you put out there now. Relax! You have a lot to say and share – it is just not always evident.

What can you say or post on your Facebook Business Page?

  1. Remember every post does not need to always be about you or your business. Add in content that talks about others. Highlight a ‘fan” on your Page,share a good service experience and name the business.
  2. You can provide good content by sharing links to other articles you find online.
  3. Yes, you will want to mention your own events, sales or products – but not as the focus. And try to do this in a natural way – the same as you would networking in person. How would you mention that to someone face to face? Write it down that way, tweak it a little for the internet and share.
  4. Add some fun updates in… people love to laugh!

Your updates can be more in the way of a mix of information that teaches contacts something new (and related to what services/products you provide).  Always try to be real and social with how your network online. So once you have posted this Facebook content – remember to check back and see if anyone is commenting. Don’t post and leave. Check and network.

I encourage you to look back at your Facebook Business Page and count and categorize the updates you have been posting…What else can you add and how often can you add it without stressing yourself out? Try this for a few weeks and look at your Page Insights to see if your reach is increasing. I think you will find those numbers going up.

Do you find it easy or hard to find content for your Facebook Page?

The Hidden Factor to Social Media Marketing & Online Networking

Facebook Business Pages can build a great community based upon your brand – but you need to engage people to make this work.

Engaging people is the same online as it is in person – you need to talk to them!

My tagline for my Social Media Training business is:

Be Real. Be Social. Get Clients Online.

That works as long as you have the hidden factor included in all the online networking and social media marketing you do.

What is this hidden factor so many people do not realize is so important to your success with Social Media?

YOU!

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give about online networking – whether Facebook or Twitter is to Be Real and Be YOU!

If everything is automated and scheduled people don’t really get to know you. That Know, Like and Trust factor is big in doing business these days. Especially when people are trying to talk to you online or are checking out your business via your website. They are trying to determine if they want to do business with you. But if “YOU” are not a factor in anything they view online – they tend to trust you less.

For Service-Based business owners, one major YOU Factor overlooked on a website is an About Page – a page that tells people who you are AND has a recent photo of you.

People won’t know who they are doing business with – so give them ways to get to know you and connect with you – in real time.

How do you get the Real You out there?

    • Include a current profile photo where you can.

– This is key especially if you will meet people in person. If your picture is out of date when you meet it is hard to make that connection. You will appear to be two different people.

    • Have information on your website and also the “Info” and “Bio” sections on your social media profiles.

– Using keywords to help people find you, your Bio and Info sections should give viewers an idea of your past experience as well as what it is you do for a living. Who you help and how.

    • Network LIVE online.

– Yes, you may schedule posts on your social media channels, this helps you keep active, but you also need to get online and be active by talking to others in real time, following conversations as they happen – not answering questions a day or two later – or worse! Never.

Be there in real time to get the best connections and to allow people to get to know the real you.

You are the face of your business online – get out there! Don’t be shy about connecting with people and make sure they get to see and know this Hidden Factor! You.

Social Media Overload: Keeping Your Inbox Under Control

Well… I got a glimpse of inbox chaos this week.

Something happened and my facebook notifications were changed. A glitch I suppose, but the glitch meant I started getting email notifications when anyone friended me, wrote on my wall, made a comment, sent me a message…. You get the picture. My inbox was jammed full of emails that I did not need to see.

Now, if you are asking “Why don’t I need to see them?” I will tell you this and it is the number one trick to managing your social media profiles more effectively.

Look around when you are on Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin. Answer people and make comments back to them directly in your social network. It’s a much more efficient use of your time, plus you learn to understand where you ‘are’ in your profile.

How?

On Twitter, when you sign in click on @connect on the upper left of your home page. See who has been ‘talking’ to you. Answer them on the spot by clicking reply. You only have 140 characters to type; it’s not a book and can be done quickly. Do the same thing with the Direct Messages.

On Facebook, follow the same principles. Check your personal wall, answer people talking to you – or better yet talk to them – make a comment about their update. Look at your inbox and send replies right there. Check your business page and do the same. Look and see if anyone has posted on your business page wall. You are using facebook to connect with more people so it is vital you check in here and make the connections.

If you follow these practices you will soon find that the email notifications you have coming are redundant; and in fact take more time to clean out.

Change your account settings and the way you ‘check’ your networks and you will find an inbox that requires less maintenance.

 

Customer Service using Social Media

One big concern I hear all the time from small business owners using, or starting out to use, social media is about ‘talking to customers’ online. For some companies providing online customer service may be fairly easy to do, for others it is a whole different ball game.

I think most can have a  mix of both – the traditional customer service but with some online service too – and of course it depends upon your company setup, resources, and availability.  I have seen some companies make a note in their BIO on twitter that they do not provide support here – but sometimes you may get it.

There are privacy issues, and then, of course, the fear that others will hear about the bad things that can happen. In many cases, you may be asked to DM the company or provide an email where they can take the issue offline. As a customer looking for help, it is no matter to me how it is delivered, as long as I get the help I am asking for.

Today I was reading Brian Solis’ blog and there was a very good post about the social media customer service issues and how the changes in our world with the internet and the growth and use of social media really mean there are many changes companies have to make including how they deliver and measure customer service.

I think it can be well summed up by this statement:

Fixing customer service is not the goal here. Improving customer service and delivering an integrated experience will not only help customers feel valued, but also establish a competitive advantage.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety, it can be found here.

Is your company delivering any customer service using social media?  How is that working for you, what are the positives and negatives you have experienced?

Is your website ready for Social Media Sharing?

Social Media Marketing Tools and Options should always be included in your website design… even if you are not planning (!) on using it yourself.

When we do a social media consult with a client, the very first thing we look at is your website.

Why the website?

One of the main goals of social media tends to be bringing more traffic to your website, you do this by networking online. Your networking when setup and rolled out effectively will have links back to your website. This is how people find out more info than they can garner in a 140 character update.  Because of this, your website needs to be a place where people can easily get information but also where they can easily share the information they find.

Two of the top social sharing tools you should include on your website are a Twitter Retweet button and a Facebook Share button.
Some small business owners laugh when I say this, and they laugh because they are not using Twitter or Facebook and see no reason for having anything to do with it on their website.

My answer is always: “What about your website visitors? They probably are using Twitter or Facebook, or at least a good number of them are.

With the staggering numbers of people in the worlds using Facebook (over 825 million) and Twitter (over 120 million) – you can be certain there are visitors to your website that use social media and are used to sharing info they find with friends AND sharing with a  quick click of a button.

>>>   And then the light bulb moment comes… “Ohhhh, right. “

Having a ReTweet button means visitors can share your website and links with their contacts and followers on Twitter. You do not need to be a part of this, but you need to provide the tool for them to do so.  There are many options for adding this to your site:

Directly via code created by Twitter or if you have a WordPress self-hosted website there are many plugins you can add that include a Retweet button for your site, in fact, there are some that let you pick and choose from some of the top ones: Twitter, Facebook Like and Share buttons, Google plus and many more.

So take a quick peek at your website… have you made certain that your site is a social place for visitors??

If not, you may need to revisit a bit of your website strategy, and of course, if you need assistance setting something like this up, we are always here to help.

One Twitter account or Two?

Someone tweeted me a question the other day…

Do you have one twitter account that you mix personal and business or do you have two accounts?

My answer? ONE!

Now, it will always go back to your reason for being ‘on Twitter’, your strategy for using this network – and for some, it is simply for fun and personal networking. That is great. But if you have a business and that is what you are looking to use Twitter for, unless you have a really different persona and personality than you the business owner, I would stick to one twitter profile.

My reason for this recommendation?

Managing two accounts is hard work! For some people, one is hard enough.  A few years ago I tried having two accounts, one for my social media persona and one for my Virtual Assistant one. It lasted all of 30 days. It was exhausting coming up with good content for two accounts, and two that were related in some ways.  So I dumped #2 and now am one person online.

The best part about using one ID?  I now have a large variety of topics to discuss via the networking I do online. Sometimes it’s about saving time, working smarter, and then there are all the social media tips and topics too. Add in my personal networking updates – little convos here and there with people and guess what?  I have a fairly well – rounded presence online.

I always recommend mixing your online content between business, sales and then personal updates.   This allows you to market your business (which after all is the main reason most businesses are online) but also you get to let people see the real you, the face behind the business.  It’s just like networking in person. Those personal updates give a glimpse of your personality, your life, your values, your hobbies, your humor – all of the parts that make up you.  And after all it is you who runs your business – so why not let people get to know you a bit better?

How about you? Do you have more than one twitter account? If so what makes you run two? Would love to hear of success stories about this and the strategies behind it.