By Whitney Keyes
1. Strategy. This is about being more intentional with your social media and creating a plan for success. It’s easy to come up with a multitude of ideas for blogs and Pinterest posts, but if you don’t prioritize your activities, you’ll be spread too thin and risk paying too little attention to any one activity to be effective with any of them. Whether you’re a student or a CEO, take time to envision where you want to be down the road, and set clear, achievable goals using social media to help you get there.
2. Story. Social media tools were intended to create connections with other people. Instead of pushing out information, turn your approach around and share stories that resonate with the people you most want to reach. You can see great examples of storytelling on the Facebook page for The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Here’s one post made on December 9, 2012:
3. Strength. Easy as it may be to do, you’ll have a far better chance of producing results from your social media marketing activities if you collaborate with others. This goes beyond just re-tweeting or cross-linking to another blog. One of the best ways to strengthen your efforts is to extend your reach by teaming up with your customers (or your fans). You can also create alliances with individuals and organizations, even your competitors. A third technique is to reach out to the media and other opinion influencers who can help you amplify your stories.
For example, the American pop singer Lady Gaga doesn’t just use social media to talk about herself. She regularly promotes her fans she calls “little monsters,” posting photos of them and tweeting details about her support base—even when things go astray. Here’s a tweet from her November 16, 2012, feed:
4. Simplicity. Once you know what you want to do with social media marketing, it’s time to turn your ideas into action. But as simple as social media tools are to use, some people over complicate the process. I recently consulted with a small business owner who felt she needed to blog and post to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter multiple times a day. I explained to her that even though Comcast, the largest cable operator in the U.S., has a Twitter feed with over 40,000 followers, the company doesn’t tweet every day, so why should she? I suggested that she consider streamlining her efforts to just one post a week and integrate content as much as possible. Its important to reflect back to step #1, your strategy, to remember what you’re working toward. Then, create a simple action plan to clarify what needs to be communicated, by when and what social media tools to use.
5. Speed. The great thing about social media marketing is that your efforts produce results quickly. You can instantly tell if people liked your post or are following you. But quantitative numbers like these aren’t the end-all and be-all. When it comes to evaluating your efforts, true success is measured over the long run, in qualitative information and engaging interactions with customers, clients and fans. This doesn’t need to be time-intensive. Ranging from test pilot YouTube videos to Facebook polls, there are many things you can do to make sure your social media is effective.
From a crisis tweet campaign for the Red Cross during Hurricane Sandy to free coffee coupons for over 33 million Starbucks fans on Facebook, the potential for what social media tools can do continues to grow. Remember: strategy, story, strength, simplicity and speed. By applying these five steps to your activities, you can harness the power of social media to propel your social media marketing to the right results, both big and small.
Whitney Keyes is a fellow for the Center for Strategic Communications at Seattle University and the author of Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website at www.WhitneyKeyes.com.