Social Media has certainly become THE trend over the past year or so, and everyone and their sister is jumping on board. Tweets, blog posts, and articles are peppered with how to-s, trends, and best practices. Hell, even I’m guilty of over saturating my twitter feed with social media tweets. But there’s a reason for all of this, and quite simply it’s because technology is providing us the ability to communicate in ways that we’ve never been able to before. It’s giving the little guy the ability to compete with the big boys.
I’ve always tried to be fairly grounded and transparent about my knowledge of social media marketing. I’ve never claimed to be a guru, and there are certainly many more people that know more then I do. But what I have done is taken the time to understand how to use certain tools and strategies to leverage social media successfully for building my personal brand, as well as for small to medium sized businesses to get up and running from nowhere. Below are some of these tools/strategies that I’ve used that may be useful to you in your quest to become social media relevant.
Disclaimer – All the products that contain affiliate links below are all products that I have used, love, and have been successful with. I never recommend anything that I don’t wholeheartedly stand behind and have used extensively.
1. Have A Blog – This may seem obvious, but many individuals or businesses still don’t have a blog. It’s the easiest and most effective method to build your brand. Simply blogging 1-2 times a week about your expertise and knowledge can go a long way regardless of whether your goals are personal or professional. There are a ton of great free options such as Tumblr, Posterous, and WordPress.com. I personally prefer the self hosted method which is not as difficult or expensive as one would think. I use Bluehost.com ($6.95/month), and with their idiot proof control panel, you can have full control over the look and feel of your blog as well as the ability to place advertising on it if your blog becomes popular enough. Eventually I used Amazon ppc management to better market my ads on my blog, and on top of that, by self hosting, you have the ability to create multiple sites/blogs at no additional hosting cost.
2. Automate Twitter – Many people immediately balk at the idea of using tools that automate some of the tasks with Twitter. I see Twitter as a tool that can work in a variety of different ways for people. Some simply only want to follow and be followed by a select group of individuals and keep their Twitter streams clean. Others (like myself), find the value in having a large (albeit, relevant) following. Here’s the bottom line; I have gotten jobs, consulting gigs and opened doors simply because I have a large following. That’s the truth, like it or not. Of course it’s not the be all end all, but let me repeat, DOORS HAVE OPENED FOR ME BY HAVING A LARGE FOLLOWING. Of course I’ve had to back it up with some actual knowledge, and in most cases I do. The fact is I don’t have time to manually do what it takes to achieve this, so I find nothing wrong with using software that helps me free up time to do more important work. TweetAdder has been a great tool in helping me identify relevant Twitter users to follow which in most cases results in being followed back. Worth every penny, hands down. If you want some tips or need help, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.
3. Leverage 2nd Tier Platforms – While the Facebooks and Twitters of the world are certainly the big dogs, there are opportunities elsewhere to capitalize on. The top 3 that really come to mind are LinkedIn, Foursquare and FriendFeed. LinkedIn (see previous blog post here), is not only a great place to network, but also to drive traffic and build street cred. Find relevant groups and join the conversation and you’ll find yourself building credibility and learning from others as well. Foursquare is a definite up and comer, and a phenomenal opportunity for local businesses to capitalize on the location based craze. By simply linking your blog to your account, you have another potential audience to tap into. I’m not a power user by any means, but that’s an additional 672 pair of potential eyeballs to my blog. Also FriendFeed’s subscriber count feeds into Feedburner’s RSS subscriber numbers so it’s a no brainer to make sure you are set up there. Yes, it’s not a true measure of actual “readers” on your blog, but again, perception matters in opening doors. You just have to back it up with good blog content, conversation and real world knowledge.
4. Promote Your Following – One of the things I’ve done recently is make the size of my following more visible on my blog as you can see in the top right. Now anytime someone comes to my blog, they instantly see that I have a fairly large following thus it’s more likely that they might stick around to read a few things and maybe even follow me. Again, I try to back it up with interesting content, and I certainly don’t think that a large following in and of itself will do me any good. But it’s a good start.
5. Read Everything – The fact is, Social Media is changing everyday. In order to stay on top of the latest tools, platforms, strategies, it’s imperative that you read everything you possibly can. RSS aggregators can be your best friend. I personally use Google Reader, and I’m able to glance through hundreds of blog posts and catch up on the latest and greatest. It’s so critical to consume as much as you can as technologies and trends change almost by the day. Browse other blogs, subscribe, comment, get in there and make yourself known.