Sep 11, 2012

Monetize, optimize, reciprocity, and even, yes, engagement. Ever come out of a social media marketing planning session with your head spinning? This new frontier has created all kinds of vague buzzwords.

Surely posting 140 characters isn’t as complicated as all those words imply?

Don’t let the jargon throw you. Marketing, branding, and selling on social media boils down to three basic questions:

Do People Like You?

Meaning, do you have fans, followers, subscribers? The first step in a social media campaign is simply getting your target audience to find you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to reach customers, donors, employees, job-seekers, or even a niche group like travel bloggers. You can’t get the results you want if no one knows you exist. Just posting and hoping isn’t enough.

How to be liked: Promote your social channels everywhere. Start online. Put links on your website, LinkedIn company page, and any of your personal social profiles. Encourage your leadership team and your employees to post them, too. Then hit the offline world. Your social channels should be on your business cards, in your brochures, on your recruitment materials, and, if you have a storefront, at your cash register and on your receipts.

Are They Responding?

We’ve all seen Facebook Pages that have thousands of Likes, but no comments. Once you’ve built a community (another buzzword that should be on the chopping block), you need to have a conversation.  If people are talking to you, it means they care about what your brand has to say. It’s OK if the first comments are complaints! Eventually you’ll get questions, ideas, and eventually, answers to your questions.

How to get ‘em talking: Show your audience that you’re listening by responding to comments right away, even if they’re complaints. Then post content that generates responses and shares. Social media expert Jeff Bullas (“guru” is forbidden!) has shown that photos, quotes, and infographics encourage interaction. Meanwhile, social media scientist Dan Zarrella (a title he has earned) found that humor often leads to sharing, as does content that’s useful or educational. The simpliest way to get response is to just ask questions; Pepsi’s Facebook page often asks general questions like “What’s your favorite summer vacation?” or “What are your Labor day plans?” These relate to Pepsi’s spirit of food and fun, but don’t blatantly promote their products.

Are They Doing What You Want?

Conversations are great, but you want results. Forget about terms like “return on investment” and ask the simple question: What do you want people to do? Buy your product, join your mailing list, apply for a job? It doesn’t matter if you have lots of fans or followers, or if they’re interacting with you, if you’re not ultimately getting the result you want. Likewise, a small fan base is all right, if they’re passionate and responding to your calls to action.

How to move them: Make every sixth or tenth post about your product or service; just enough to remind people but not enough to look like a sleazy salesman. Reward people who comment or share your content with special offers. Or go one step further and hold a sweepstakes, asking people to post photos, answer a trivia question, or vote on something in order to win a prize. Most importantly, be clear about what you’re asking, with simple statements like “Click here,” “Visit our website,” “Retweet to enter the contest,” or “Answer us in the comments.”

See? No need for obscure business terms. Just three simple questions. Of course, the answers can be more complex, and not every demographic reacts the same way to the same content.

Just please don’t call me a guru.

PS: Want the SoMe Superstar challenger quiz?

Then guess what these words mean: SoLoMo, Plussification

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