Success in social media takes much more than just setting up Twitter and Facebook pages with an intern or office junior assigned to look after them.
And if you are not ready or able to commit to that, my advice to you is save yourself the hassle. Just accept that your doomed to ever diminishing returns on your marketing budget.
Why? Because social media and social marketing is the way the web works these days. And it’s a two-way conversation, so setting up pretty pages on your website and automatically posting adverts and links doesn’t work. Even getting someone to write stuff for you doesn’t work these days.
You and your whole organisation need to enter the conversation.
So let me tell you how I think it is, and if its not, or if your motivations don’t align, please tell me.
You have a small organisation and you haven’t bought into “social media”, yet, but you’ve realised silence is no longer an option. Right?
You know people are online talking about your organisation and the area work, even as you read this, whether you like or not. And you know, if you don’t engage in the conversation you risk losing your donors, followers and supporters to competitors.
1. Assess Your Assets
The first action you should take before involving anyone in online marketing or social media marketing and engagement is to take a long hard look at what are you’re trying to promote. What are your assets? Who are your target audience? It may seem obvious, but… A local car-sharing cooperative, I once helped, had too many cheap cars for rent. Business was slow because they were simply targeting people who wanted to rent “cheap cars”. Turns out there was a larger audience they could target through social media — local tourists looking for “small cars”.
Without honestly entering into the local conversation, they would never have found that out.
2. Sign-Up For Social Media
Get all senior employees (at first, and later all employees) to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Facebook allows you to create a business page (get an expert to do it for you if you don’t know what you’re doing). In any case, make sure you read the rules for businesses first. You can even ‘create a page’ through your personal account, if your business allows you to do so. That makes it easy for you to manage it. On LinkedIn, every employee becomes your best advocate.
At this stage its all about account profiles and they each need to be completed thoroughly and in detail. Don’t skip this step or fail to take it seriously — you will simply undermine any future success!
3. Choose Your Social Media Manager Software
Managing multiple social networks is daunting. So, before you start posting content, requesting friends and adding followers, we need to sign you up for a social media manager such as Ping.fm and HootSuite. It allows you to manage all of your accounts on one site and schedule your messages to deploy so you don’t have to sit over it all day. It also allows you to review the success of the tweets real-time with click-through statistics. And you can gather all the mentions of your brand, industry or search terms on Twitter through it as well.
That’s for the free version. I suggest trying that first. As you get more involved in social media, I prefer SproutSocial.com. You have a choice on plans for 9$ to $39 depending on how many will be actively involved. There’s a 30-day free trial to make sure it works for you. What I like is that it allows you to take all of those you follow and the followers and create contacts out of them which you can manage in the system and track engagement. It also has one inbox for all of your messages from all the networks. Plus, it allows you to track check-ins at FourSquare and Gowalla.
4. Post Updates
It’s important to have real content and lots of it on your website and social media pages before you start adding friends and followers (and if you don’t have a WordPress website, or some other content management system [CMS] this is going to be either expensive or time consuming). When you try to find friends, they’re going to look at the page to see if they want to follow you. So you need to give them a reason to follow you first. Provide valuable information about the charity and its work. Post pictures of your day to day activities or people enjoying the results of your efforts.
On YouTube, post videos of your work, recipient experiences and encourage folk in the field to make their own. You can also ‘favorite’ other YouTube users’ videos and they will end up on your page. If you’re a small charity, posting cool videos made by bigger or more successful charities is a possibility that would add value to those who ‘subscribe’ to your page. Also, share those videos on your other accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn.
5. Find Friends and Followers
Twitter and Google+ are easiest. Search keywords to find followers. Searching for the nearest town where you operate and surrounding areas, as well to find key influencers, news outlets, bloggers and city officials. Also, search for large goverment players in your market. If they share your posts, you have the potential to reach thousands more. I suggest adding just a few people at a time.
On Google+, comment on one of their posts immediately. On Twitter, mention them in a post immediately. You can also comment on one of their posts or simply say that you look forward to following their great content. If it’s a reporter or blogger, give them story ideas and leads that have nothing to do with your business. Get them to trust you.
To find fans on Facebook, it’s best to start with real friends and family. You can also pay as little as $100 to have an ad for your Facebook page syndicate across the network for a designated period of time although this would really need to come later.
6. Engage Friends and Followers
Joni Klippert who is head of marketing for Standing Cloud hosting friended me on Facebook. When she asked to be my friend, she typed a personal message, saying how impressed she was with my work and how she’s enjoyed watching my work evolve. I couldn’t remember where I knew her from. Was it a television station, radio station, or was it from school? I wasn’t sure.
I was too embarrassed to ask. And she seemed harmless. So, I confirmed her friend request and wrote her a note back thanking her for her feedback and saying that I look forward to connecting. She proceeded over the next few months to follow my videos and stories. She engaged in great debates and conversation with me as well as my friends. I knew just days after I added her that I didn’t know her personally. But I was so impressed with her and the relationship we’d developed over the months, that when I was traveling to her town, Boulder in Colorado, for a convention, I suggested we have lunch. When I arrived she gave me a small book written by Seth Godin, who’s work she already had learned I admire.
Since then, I have been a regular customer of Standing Cloud, wouldn’t go anywhere else, and am quick to share and recommend their service on my websites.
So, your first priority should be building that relationship with people, not pitching your service or product. Give them story ideas and leads that have nothing to do with your business.
On Facebook: Share their links on your wall and/or comment on them. Wish them a Happy Birthday. Birthdays are big on Facebook. Always acknowledge them. Maybe even offer them a some small treat for a birthday present via Facebook.
On Twitter: Retweet their stories and comment on them! Reply to each and every message. Keep the conversation going. Get them to trust you. For example, one of my favorite Twitter followers is @heykim. She is an amazing example of how to do it right. She has 25,000 followers. But she has even more friends. She friended thousands of people little by little and engaged with them, retweeting their tweets, commenting on their tweets, checking in on topics those folks had tweeted on days before.
Now, she’s constantly in conversation with folks like Morgan Fairchild, Alyssa Milano and Kathy Ireland. Alyssa Milano even just shared a linked @heykim posted tonight about how Twitter has transformed over the last five years. Who would’ve thought? She’s not famous. The key is she knows how to engage. Even more, she’s authentic. And she never misses a #FF (Follow Friday). On Friday’s many people share with their friends, their favorite people to follow, encouraging others to follow them as well.
On Google+: It’s a cross between Facebook and Twitter. It’s great because you can create circles of certain people you want to target for different reasons. It makes it easier to post certain promotions to one group vs. another.
On LinkedIn: The best way to engage with potential followers and donors is by joining groups and starting group discussions.
Very important: Do not ask for help/favors from people until you’re friends or at least warm acquaintances with them. And the #1 way to become friends is to offer tons of help/favors without expecting anything in return.
In the words of Michael Ellsberg, author of “Self-Educated Millionaires: The Seven Skills You’ll Never Learn in College, “Networking is a *long term* activity – it CANNOT be done for short-term results”.
Follow these basic concepts, and you’ll be ahead of 99.99% of the knuckleheads out there who are botching their networking attempts online!”
7. Stay Current
Install Twitter and Facebook Apps and get alerts sent to your phone when folks engage with you via your social networking sites – at least in the beginning – that way you respond quickly.
8. Social Media Policy
Finally, when in a few months time you have become an “overnight expert”, you will need to publish your own “social media policy” so that everyone else at your enterprise can get involved. Social media policies and guidelines provide your employees with a framework to carry out your social media strategy and implement your social media tactics. They can also have a direct impact on the success of your social media endeavors. As it happens, lots of organisations publish their social media guidelines online. Here you can find a list 61 great social media policy templates and resources to use when building your own.
OK, if you are ready to commit to this journey, a good place to start is here ~ Giving Up Control To Get Results.
If you have more ideas, please share them with me.
The more ideas, the better.