Social Media Marketing: A Six Step Program

Recently, I have noticed a flurry of activity in my inbox from the usual e-newsletter suspects about what to make of the new social media.

Here are just a few of the e-mails I received this week: "How to Use YouTube to Generate Leads: 7 Video Posting Strategies & Tagging Tips" and "How to Use Social Networking Sites for Lead Generation" - both from Marketing Sherpa; "Social Media - Not Just for Kids" - from IMedia Connection; "The Build-it Yourself Approach to Social Marketing" - from IT Business Edge.

These newsletters attempt to answer a great question: as a marketer, how can you use, benefit from, and not get burned by sites like Facebook, MySpace or any of the more targeted social networking sites out there. Now is an appropriate time to share some answers, as we have been turning increasingly to social media (often with great success) on behalf of our clients.

Here is a six-step program for success in marketing with social media:

1. Research appropriate sites and groups to market to…
At the end of this article, I have put together a list of social media sites to get you started.

2. Or create your own.
If you can't find a group that meets your needs, create one on any of the more popular sites (Facebook is very popular - with about one in five Canadians using it).

3. Understand your target and create personas.
Due diligence requires that you a) Understand your target market and what they’re interested in by spending time reading what's being said, and b)Develop personas that fit in the reality of the social media group you’ve chosen.

In social media, every site is an expression of an individual’s "persona". In the context of social media personas sites sit somewhere between the literary definition and the user experience methodology definition of the word.

In literature, a persona is a "second self" through whom the narrative can develop. While they may share many characteristics, this persona should not be confused with the actual author.

In user-centred design, we create personas to help us understand the likes and dislikes of typical users and to define their goals and expectations.

Having a persona doesn't mean you need to say much. You may decide, having done your research, that your persona builds connections and mostly remains anonymous. Or, you may decide that your persona is quite gregarious, and will comment or offer insight on a regular basis. The most important thing about your online persona is authenticity. Be genuine or nobody will listen to you. The second most important thing is to remember you have to give something to get something.

4. Tread very carefully and post generously.
Marketing Sherpa describes a successful business-to-business intitiative1 using social media in which the company developed a mix of white paper titles to meet various expectations of the social media audience. These white papers spanned recommendations from the very specific to the very general. Each title resonated with different audiences, and was designed to generate leads.

5. Use a variety of channels for expression.
On many social media sites, there are many "media" being used, such as RSS feeds, blogs, and discussion forums. In sites like Facebook, many add-ons have been created to extend your presence (My Travels, photo galleries, event calendars, etc.). Facebook has received a lot of well-justified praise for enabling users to build applications that anybody can use.

6. Measure and follow-up.
Develop mechanisms to measure and enhance success. If you are using social media to generate leads, it is important to establish what information you want to receive, and to develop mechanisms to act on those leads. For more on social media and lead generation, click here.

As promised, here is a list of social media sites (other than Facebook and MySpace):
www.eons.com (a lifestyle portal for those over 50)
www.boomj.com (lifestyle portal aimed at boomers and "Generation Jones" (those between the boomers and Generation X)
prime.lavalife.com/ (dating for boomers)
http://www.cafemom.com(for active new moms)
http://www.mothersclick.com(for wired and active moms)

1 Marketing Sherpa referred to

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