Featured News, Freelance Life, Opinion Pieces, Social Media & Community Management

Guest Post: Social Media Marketing 101

July 2, 2012

Social Media Marketing 101 (mark II)

 

This is Part Two of a Two-Part Blog Series by the Queen of Social at Sarah Allen Consulting on how freelancers can use social media marketing to get results.
Howdy freelancers.

 

You’ve had a few weeks now to digest Part One on Social Media 101 for Freelancers, which was all about the importance of seeing social media as a conversation, finding out how to set objectives for brands participating in the social marketing landscape, ways to visualise and find your audience, and choosing your social channel strategy with style and confidence.

 

Maybe you’ve gone full steam ahead and completed your social media set up by now, or maybe you’re still thinking about it. Either way, it’s time to make your next move.

 

Read on to learn more about the all-important C-bomb: that is, how to plan, produce and deliver great Content that engages your audience and positions you as an opinion leader; as well as other vital stuff like how to Find Your Voice online; Measuring Return on Investment; and that age-old ditty: What To Do When Things Go Pear Shaped.

 

Essentially, this second part of the blog is geared around giving you the skills to participate in the conversation without having a d-bag moment. Brands don’t want to come off looking second-rate – and this is an opportunity to stand head and shoulders above the competition, after all!

 

social media marketing

 

Find Your Voice
So we’re talking about YOUR voice here, not THE Voice, which has been inescapable over past months. Instead, to find your voice online it’s about finding a way of typing, speaking, talking, showing what you do in social media, essentially storytelling in a way that encapsulates your brand and importantly, makes it real.

 

After all, a brand is represented by a name and a logo, otherwise known as a sign. In semiotics, the study of signs in popular culture is all about understanding the meanings underpinning signs.

 

Attached to your brand will be marketing collateral and a website – which is generally a pretty static thing we use as a reference point to gather information. But behind your brand there are a whole host of values and important qualities that shape our amazing business products and services.

 

Social media is a great way of bringing your brand to life, by using footage, imagery and language that your target audience can relate to (even have conversations with).  It’s about finding a unique voice for your brand. Don’t try to emulate your competition; we all have a point of difference and the idea is to bring your unique brand personality into being.

 

Please also note, with the explosion of Pinterest and Facebook becoming more image-centric, this is not just about words but finding or capturing images that reinforce your brand aesthetic.

 

Your online voice will come with practice and it will be tied to your brand personality – tease out whether your brand is calm, joyful, careful, wacky, knowledgeable, spirited, fun, serious or off-beat and the right tone of voice will follow.

 

Remember: Use social media to bring your brand to life, as we are human beans after all, and prefer to be spoken with rather than spoken at. So… avoid jargon, acronyms, corporate speak and other weasel words – be conversational in tone. 

 

 

Deliver Great Content

 

Content is king, say all the bloggers and social media guru swamis. And they’re right. You do need to deliver great content to your audience in a way that cuts through the noise, rather than adding to it. You also need to find what is your value proposition – what do people want to know from you?

 

Hint: it may not be what you think you want to talk about. Often, it’s harder to tease out than that.

 

But if you can test out different types of content, ask people what they want, and check levels of engagement against what you’re posting online, then you’ll be on your way to finding your target audience’s sweet spot. That means you’ll find it easier to reach a wider audience, get new sign ups to your email list, likes on your fan page, retweets, repins, hits to your website and customers.

 

With great content though, you need structure. I talk about working with chunks, banks and scheduling to help people understand how to achieve great social media content in minimum time. Here’s how it works.

 

Chunks: Devote a period of time, say an hour, to brainstorming, researching and writing content for your social channels. An hour a week or two hours a fortnight should be enough. A short blog post can be written and uploaded in 30 minutes, once you’re proficient at the task. Other time can be spent coming up with fresh topics, finding ways to wrap your business around evergreen dates, researching facts, requesting quotes or endorsements about what you do, even searching out images and videos that you can post online.

 

Banks: Set up an image folder and a word document to save content into. Divide it up into rough headings or themes for your content. Half-baked ideas, blog post suggestions, quotes and trivia all end up in this document. You can refine them as time allows.

 

Scheduling: I don’t recommend scheduling Facebook posts as I’ve not found a tool that makes it look like you’ve posted the picture as when you post direct from Facebook. However, Twitter has a range of offshoots like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite that you can use to schedule a couple of tweets a day. That way, you can supplement with real-time tweeting if given the chance, and you can respond to tweets coming via mobile alerts, while knowing that there’s content scheduled to go out regularly.

 

A final clever trick we use for posting is to create a mood board of pictures, words, even colours to help get you in the zone when it’s THAT time – we all know how the day can get very busy and so a visual cue can jolt you into remembering the tone of voice you need to consistently use.

 

Remember: Create a mood board, develop an editorial calendar and set up a schedule for posting on your social channels, to make it easier to incorporate social into the working day.

 

 

Measuring Return on Investment

 

Honestly, who’s great at finding time each month to measure my own social activity? I’m not. Instead, practice what I preach (and what I practice on behalf of clients) and you’ll see whether the time you’re putting into developing great content for your social channels and participating in conversations is paying off.

 

With measurement you want to achieve two things. You want to set up a system where you can see if you’re achieving your social media objectives, seeing whether you’re hitting your targets. But you want to do this in a way that is easy to capture, so that they actually get done.

 

Set up a spreadsheet to measure against the objectives you have set up. For each objective, find a metric you can check against. For an objective to reach a wider market, track your reach (number of fans, followers). For an objective to start and continue conversations with customers and opinion leaders, track engagement (number and type of mentions in social media). If you want to grow the number of customers that come to you through social channels, track your referrals (survey customers, check google analytic referring sites, set up social shopping on Facebook, provide a social shopper code to receive 5% off your purchase). And so on.

 

In terms of frequency, measure monthly. Aim to capture your information in an hour to start, and then whittle it down to 30-45 mins. That way you aren’t measuring information you don’t necessarily need and you can capture and review your results in a snap.

 

Remember: Sign up to blogs like Social Media Examiner, SocialBrite, and Beth Kanter to ensure you learn about the free and paid measurement tools out there, and are reminded of the importance of regularly measuring your return on investment.

 

 

What To Do If Things Go Pear-Shaped

 

Social media has a lot to do with losing control. Where we once (thought) we controlled the conversation about our brand, now we participate in existing conversations being had about our organisation, product or industry.

 

So what happens if someone from your company or brand says something or responds to something in a way that you wish hadn’t happened?

 

First of all, ignore the impulse to reach for the delete button and pretend it never happened. Just as you can’t take back something unsavoury that has been said, if you tweet, Pin or Facebook and then delete it, once people have started talking about it, the issue will just get bigger.

 

Better instead to deal with it head on. We are all human beans, and brands have people behind them managing them. So mistakes happen.

 

Seeing that social media often has a customer service function underpinning it – that is, the ability for people to leave feedback about your brand, product or service – it’s best to see issues as requiring a customer service approach. That is, don’t take it personally, acknowledge there is a problem, work speedily to ensure the problem is resolved and triple check that any stakeholders or customers affected are satisfied with the process you’ve taken to fix it as well as the result.

 

Remember: Be authentic and transparent in your approach if things go off-track, as a sincere apology and a real attempt to turn the situation around will always go a long way. 

 

 

That’s it folks! Thanks for reading to the end and I look forward to any questions or comments you may have on how this two-part series on Social Media 101 has helped give your brand social marketing power.

 

social media marketing

 

About the Author: Sarah Allen has a decade’s experience in public relations and brand marketing together with true passion for new media and proven expertise in delivering wildly successful social media campaigns.

 

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