There are many ways to utilize social media to boost your brand. The key is to have a strategy around building your social proof.
Here are 7 keys to create your social media strategy:
1. Define your outcome – This is perhaps the most important aspect of your social media strategy. What are you trying to achieve? What is your ideal outcome? Sales? Lead generation? Promotions? Branding? Buzz? Corporate brands generally use social media as part of their larger strategic initiatives for reputation management, product launches, and customer engagement tools. Those methods apply to personal branding as well because social media is a cost-effective marketing and PR vehicle in comparison to the traditional media marketing.
2. Focus on your audience’s needs – If you want to sell a product such as a book across social media, you must focus on your audience’s pain point, solve their problems, and add value to them little by little. Provide free advice that’s of high value, NOT something anyone can just copy and paste from a source like a blog. For example, instead of relaying mainstream news, focus on syndicating news gear towards a specific niche area so you become the go-to source for it. Better yet, compile the content and provide your own insight so you act as a filter for your audience.
3. Implement measurable ROI – This is actually difficult to do because social media is still a relatively new medium and remains largely unproven. The best solution is to gauge the time spent versus the result you are able to measure such as inbound traffic, clickthroughs, impressions, comments, fans, followers, subscribers, and ask how prospects find you. Track your data and chart them over time to find relevant cause and effects. You may be surprise to find what people are saying about your brand or how effective your marketing triggers are after reviewing your statistics.
4. Actively participate in discussion groups – If you have something valuable to offer, people should know. Join discussions and participate in forums will bring you opportunities to brand yourself and create awareness in the form of constructive promotion. Further more by providing your audience with insights, educational content, or value support systems will help you gain social proof. Knowledge transfer in social media is very powerful especially given as freebies. As a result it creates reciprocation from the recipient who will want to return the favor in the form of purchasing your product or endorsing your brand.
5. Get in front of the right people – High profile people are great leverage to give you that boost of traffic especially key opinion leaders in your niche area. Get in touch with them and do something for them first. Contribute to their cause and the reciprocation factor will work on them as well. Instead of asking for endorsements, participate in their discussion groups, leave comments on their blog, send them useful information, and interact with their channel are all ways to gain visibility. Build the right relationship will also drive The Long-Tail affect in which your brand impression will be distributed amongst high profile people’s fans in significant numbers.
6. Blend online and offline social networking – This is one of the overlooked areas for social networking. Offline networking can add more fuel to the fire especially when people aren’t able to hide behind their user name, emails or avatars. There is nothing quite like a face-to-face conversation to get a nice dialogue started. Not only can you hear the voice of the other person but the body language, eye contact, and physical interaction in the same space makes you more “real” and believable. Although it can be time consuming, offline networking is more powerful than 140 words in a tweet or a two liner comment in Facebook. It also encourages word-of-mouth marketing which is by far the most effective marketing tool today. I highly recommend you to attend conferences, go to tradeshows, take a training course, or get with other social networkers locally. Start a MeetUp group or a monthly seminar.
7. Nurture relationships, build momentum – When implanting social media strategies, you may wan to run tests to get feedback from your network. You should stay true to yourself but also know what worked and what doesn’t. Ideally you want to keep doing what works and find new ways to strengthen your relationship with your audience. Start your own discussion group, do an online survey, create joint ventures, exchange opportunities, and continue to provide free information are all ways to foster your social media relationships. Nothing will happen when nothing is provided and you must be patient before you get results. Whether you’re already on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or is blogging on a regular basis, my best advice is to just let go and keep on giving!