At OLinks, we follow a business approach to Social Media. We have developed a simple methodology that leads to bottom-line results. The five-step methodology is;
None of the steps above need to be completed before the next step begins. This is a fluid process. But Setup is the foundation. So let’s take a closer look at this first step.
In an effort to not write a book, I just want to say at this point that Setup cannot be done well without adhering to certain fundamental philosophies. For example, our philosophy is that the objective of Social Media is to grow the business and then assist in the business’ resilience. Social Media can be very effective in this objective, thanks to recent technologies that have gained mass acceptance at reasonable or no cost to the users.
Social Media’s objective mentioned above is made possible by providing the business a way to have a relationship with its customers, prospective customers, partners, and general industry. Notice that I said “relationship with”, and not “communicate with”. Social Media provides a two-way channel with those that make your business possible. This relationship is driven by the user’s need for information and solutions, not as a result of interruptions (such as traditional advertising).
Understanding that collaboration is with your business support network, the next fundamental objective should be to ensure you are speaking and listening at the same places they are. There are many Social channels, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… The user will primarily participate with one or more.
The market that a business is in can, to some extent, identify the most dominant channel, but does not ensure just a single channel. Therefore, you need to ensure the presence of all leading channels.
Each social channel presence must have a way to connect with other channels. Your message must be ubiquitous, everywhere at the same time.
Here at OLinks, we begin with the development of a Blog. A Blog provides a way for the market to discover relevant information from your business, and then comment on that information in a two-way conversation. The information can be company, product, or industry specific.
Blogs have communities that are more loosely knit than what a Facebook user would find, but with a wider reach. In a later post we will speak more about the Participate step. But I do want to mention here that participation with certain Blog platforms is a huge advantage. The wide reach of a Blog is the reason that we make the Blog the center-piece of the Social Media program.
To touch upon a couple of places that the Blog needs to be registered (submitted) would be http://blogsearch.google.com and http://technorati.com. WordPress also has a community that you become part when you develop a Blog under their platform. In addition, the contents the Blog can be found through Web searches, like Google Search and Yahoo Search. The Blog should be submitted to popular Web Crawlers through functions such as Google’s Webmaster Tools.
These steps allow the message to be available to the people wanting to find this information. We are touching upon the main beauty of Social Media. That is when the very people interested in the business’ offerings are the people discovering the information, and the business delivering the information. It is the same great feeling we all get when we have solved a problem without anyone else’s help.
The Blog also needs to have ways to be shared on other channels, like bookmarking channels, such as DIGG and StumbleUpon. It needs to have a RSS capability, be sent by email, print posts, and provide the user a means to subscribe to the Blog to get email updates. The user should have a means to share on their Facebook page and Twitter account. In Blogging platforms such as WordPress, a user should be able to ‘LIKE’ a Post.
These sharing capabilities feed the ‘Purchase Funnel’ and complement the ‘Social Feedback Cycle’, which is well described in the Dave Evans book ‘Social Media Marketing, An Hour A Day’. This is a book we have recommended to our Clients. Although we execute the Social Media Program for our Clients, we also train our Clients so that they can jump in with Posting and Participation anytime. It is not necessary, but can be very useful, and gratifying, for the client. Reading about the impact that Social Media is having on business today is very useful.
We will cover the other Social Channels in future posts.
This is an exciting time to be in business!