Don’t know where to start or what to do?
Take this challenge. In 30 days, you will determine if your company is cut out for social media.
You may find yourself asking What is social media all about?
Social Media Surrounds Us
Social media is a hot topic these days. Your friends are using it, your employees are using it, even some of your competitors are using it.
CNN and ESPN broadcasters ask you to become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Business associates are sending you LinkedIn requests. People are rating movies on Netflix and products on Amazon. Even small businesses list their Facebook fan pages on their signs as you drive through town.
Social media seems to be everywhere.
Do you at times wonder “everyone else is doing it, but why should we?”
It might not make sense for your company to utilize social media as part of your integrated marketing strategy. It all depends on many things.
What are your goals? Who do you sell to and where do they seek out your kind of products or services?
Social media does not cost a lot of money, but the time commitment and resources that it takes to build a social media program can be demanding.
Here is a 30 day test to see if you can successfully incorporate social media into your marketing and PR mix.
Week 1 – Fish Where the Fish Are
Chris Brogan, a social media expert, say to Fish Where the Fish Are. And he’s right. Where did your customers find you? Do you know? If not, ask them.
Your customers can give you a wealth of information with a simple survey. Offer a free giveaway or chance to win a larger prize and ask them a few questions.
Do they belong to associations? Do they go online to forums, message boards and industry blogs? Which search engines do they use? Do they still use the yellow pages or do they go online? Put together a list of 5 – 10 questions for your customers. Send out a free survey and analyze their responses.
Have your sales and customer service teams ask where call-ins heard about you (if they don’t already.) Put together a list of these responses and the survey answers and you should be getting a good idea where your customers are finding you.
Week 2 & 3 – Listen
Start slow. Listen. Go where your customers are online. If you don’t know, ask them.
Start a spreadsheet of forums, message boards, industry blogs, etc.
Take time to set up some listening posts about your company and industry.
Set up news alerts for your brand and industry keywords on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Look up your brand and keywords on Social Mention and Twitter Search. Set up alerts – Social Mention has different tabs, so you can set up an alert for each category.
Search blogs through Technorati and Google Blog Search.
Bookmark LinkedIn Answers under the appropriate categories or set up the RSS feed in a Reader and check daily.
Look up any blog comments about your company or industry through BackType.
Yacktrack lets you search for comments on your content from various sources, such as Blogger, Digg, FriendFeed, Stumbleupon, and WordPress blogs.
Use boardtracker.com to get instant alerts from threads citing your name. Boardreader and Big Boards are other tools that work similar to this one.
Use iGoogle or Netvibes to set up a dashboard with these sites and RSS feeds.
Now that you have set up your listening posts, check them in an RSS feed a few times a week.
This will help you get an idea about what people are saying about you, your competitors, your industry.
You will be able to track trends and hot topics and will be ready to take the next step in social media.
Week 4 – Comment
Once you set up your listening posts, schedule 1-2 hours a week to monitor and comment on any relevant blogs, articles, etc.
Answer at least one LinkedIn question in each of the categories that applies to your business. Make sure you have a free company page set up in LinkedIn.
If people are talking about your brand in a good or bad way, respond directly to them and offer your help.
Build trust and relationships. You may be surprised how helpful the social media community can be.
End of the Month
By now you should have an idea of what social media is about.
Hopefully by doing this challenge you will learn more about your business, your customers and yourself. Social media does not cost a lot of money, but it sure involves lots of time.
In 30 days, if you find that you do not have the time or resources to do these basic monitoring tasks, you might not be ready for a full social media strategy.
If you are able to do these monitoring tasks, then you are ready to take the next steps in social media which will be covered in the next post.