Social Media in Plain English

How to make it work for you

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Social media is a huge buzzword when it comes to marketing, but to use it effectively takes more than opening a twitter or facebook account. I want to share, in plain english, some ideas and basic strategies behind social media. This isn’t just about selling a product. When put to work, these tools can build community and real connections, while helping others and earning.

As the founder of a small media company called Mad Guru and co-founder of the social enterprise rHope, I use social media to connect to people and build community around my projects.

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What Social Media is not
First, let’s do away with some myths. Social media is not a replacement for quality products and services. It also won’t replace all other forms of marketing, and unfortunately, it offers no guarantees on success, but it does offer limitless opportunities to try.

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What is Social Media good for?
So what is social media good for? It’s a way to communicate across computers and smart devices, on both a personal and professional level. Compared to other forms of marketing, it lets you interact with customers quickly and immediately with the opportunity to gauge your reach and results.
Why Social Media matters?
With daily users numbering approximately 170 million for Google, 100 million for Facebook, 13 million on Twitter and 5 million on Pinterest in the United States alone, there is a huge potential to reach people where they spend their time.

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Understand yourself and then your customer

You can download our handy Social Media Marketing Sheet (Word Doc – PDF) and fill it out to get started.

Fill in your company or service name.

What products or services do you offer?

What customer needs do you fulfill?

Now that you have some basic notes on what you do, let’s think about who would be interested in it as we write our customer profiles. These are representations of different kinds of people who would be interested in what you are marketing. We can build several of these.

Write a name that represents one group within your potential audience, and an age range. Write a short bio or background on them, to gain some insights into their lives. What kind of lifestyle do they lead? What is their upbringing and day to day likely to be. Understanding related interests can also help. Next, we want to think about their needs. What is it that they are looking for? Where do they look for information to solve these needs or problems? Are they reading certain magazines or websites? Look at their information sources and study the style of them. Is it formal or informal?

Now that we understand where this customer has been and what they are looking for, we can think about the kinds of knowledge we can share to fulfill those needs. Without focusing on selling what we have to offer, we can share useful information that our customer would look for and build community around our business. This is where you can use your expertise to share and build community. We may possess some of this customer knowledge already, while other parts may need to be researched further.

If I have an outdoor equipment business, perhaps my potential customer is someone who needs to get away for the weekend and be in nature. I could write about hiking, outdoor activities, gear and related tips. Likewise, if I have a music site or shop, my customer may need interesting, obscure music, in which case audio, video and articles about musicians could fit the bill. Use what you know, what you are doing and useful supplemental information as the basis for your content. It just depends on what goes along with the purpose of your company and the needs of your customers. This can really create a genuine connection to your business, passion and a real desire to help people which can organically build community and sell products and services.

The Tools

The tools of social media are constantly changing. You need not use all of them, but understanding the value of various tools can help you prioritize and use the right ones to get your message out.

Website

Websites are a great resource to place information, links to your various social media as well as to establish what your brand is about. Websites using WordPress add the opportunity to leverage an amazing array of tools for all kinds of social media tasks.

Blog

A blog can be a part of your website. This is more like a day to day journal, where you can share stories, original content/articles of use to your customers as well as photos and information on goings on within your organization. You can use blogs to personalize the experience, or process behind what you do. Different people on your team can blog to give personal insights and perspectives into what you do. You can write, add photos, videos or audio to create content.

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Facebook

A Facebook Group is a great way to build a following, post about website updates, events, photos, timely information and short updates. Among the many advantages in using Facebook, is that you can tag people, and people can share your content from your website and Facebook group which can reach their networks and beyond.

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Twitter

A Twitter feed is perfect for short updates, which can also be mirrored on Facebook. Hash (#) tags can be used to communicate beyond your immediate connections, to join conversations in a wider sphere. Updates and interesting facts related to your area of business can be shared here.

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Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr

These are all social media tools that have to do with images. While each of them has its own unique qualities, they are essentially tools for sharing photos. If you have products or other interesting visuals, these are tools that can be used to share them with a wider audience.

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Analytics

Once you start creating and sharing content using social media, you’ll want to be able to test the response. How many people came to your website? How many liked or shared a particular post? Of the audience reached, how many emailed you, or looked further into your website and services?

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If your web hosting service has cPanel, you may be able to take a look at webalizier for website statistics.

Conclusion

This is really just the beginning. There are endless tried and untried methods to share, build community and market your offerings. With the help of social media, we can democratize the process and build something more meaningful than endless billboards, and television interruptions. This is something that I am very excited about, so feel free to leave a comment or contact me for social media services.

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