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How to Participate in Social Media, the Biggest Cocktail Party Ever

I was lucky enough to gain some great social media marketing insight from the four panelists at the Crain’s Chicago event I attended on Tuesday: "NetMarketing: Mapping Social Marketing Strategies."

Shout out to the panelists:

Here are some of the key takeaways on how you can participate in social media, which was described Tuesday as "the online cocktail party we’re all invited to."

Before Creating a Strategy:

  • Ask why you want to engage on social media (and if your answer is “Because everyone else is doing it,” then you need to rethink your approach)
  • Start with your goals: what do you want to accomplish?
  • Remember that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are tactics/tools for you to execute your business strategy through
  • Identify the customer personas you want to connect with and which platforms they use most
  • Understand the audience you’re trying to engage with
  • Answer this: Are you willing to let go of control of the message? (If not, you’re going to have a problem—marketing is no longer about pushing out a message.)

What Makes Social Marketing Successful?

  • Listen first
  • Create compelling, valuable content and let the content itself do the marketing
  • Engage with your most important audiences—employees and customers—first. Next comes your influencers, which can be filtered with tools like Klout
  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Show link love
  • Ask questions
  • Include lists instead of paragraphs of content
  • Videos can be an extremely useful tool (no more than 2 minutes). As the panelists said: “YouTube is Google’s little brother, in terms of SEO/search results, and Google is always nice to his little brother”
  • Make sure people can share your content in multiple ways: RSS feeds, share tools, etc.  

Social Media Advice That Can Apply to Everyone:

  • You can’t do social media if you’re not passionate about what you’re saying
  • If you don’t know what to talk about, ask your customers: Your audience will appreciate you asking how they want to be engaged with
  • Social media is a form of networking – it’s a way to engage with people you’d never meet otherwise
  • Social media is not just another distribution tool, so don’t use it as such
  • Don’t silo social media; engage your entire organization (customer service, sales, marketing, legal, HR) in the process
  • None of your social media efforts work without monitoring, responding and engaging

I’m a big fan of the online cocktail party that is social media and I believe it’s very useful as a marketing/PR tool, but there’s still one other lesson to keep in mind in the digital age we live in:

“The value of face-to-face will never be replaced. It’s still the best way to do business. Social media is a way to continue the conversation.” –Matt Batt