Final Part (I think) of the takeaways from attending ESCR099 aka CEDIA's Social Media Forum - as mentioned prior these are my interpretations of the info provided by the presenters and the panelists, so any innacuracies are because I was too busy live tweeting the class and not paying attention and decided to make things up - OR if all else fails, I blame Matt Scott's hair (@MattScottsHair on Twitter)
Part 1 and Part 2 talked about making comittment choices to who manages your Social Media approach and then about what should be your base intentions. Important things to consider before you even build your blog site, facebook fan page or create a twitter handle...
So now that you've decided to toss your chips into the Social Media pile and ante up... we get to the fun part...
Content is King
Again, this does appear to be one of those obvious basic statements for Social Media 101. And invariably it's the simplest statements that are the hardest to execute. See everyone likes the concept of Social Media and becoming an internet sensation, the problem isn't getting someone to take a look at you the first time you go "hey! we're now on the internet!" it's keeping them engaged and coming back.
Just regurgitating someone's else content without your unique perspective or take on things isn't going to do much other than cause your target audience's eyes to gloss over. If they want to read someone else's original ideas about something, invariably they'll soon skip right past you and go to the source.
If you're going to put up content make sure it's *good* content.
This is your opportunity to tell your story, why you're excited about what your company does and why someone should be excited too. Enthusiasm in any sales approach is going to be part of a successful outcome, and it can be genuine without it feeling slimy or contrived. Remeber the "Social" element of Social Media
Also, and I can't stress this enough. Every word processing program on the planet has some form of spell checker built in - USE IT. The fastest way to bury any delightful morsels of knowledge you might be filling people's melons with, will immediately come to a crashing halt if your grammar and spelling makes it look like it was authored by a single toothed logger (with all due respect to the single toothed logger, blogging community, of course)
Now there's some caveats here to consider - Twitter for example only allows you 140 characters per posting, so the rules have to be amended slightly to get the message across and play by the rules of brevity. This is the ONLY time that you should be making that concession, all other forms of expressing your Social Media approach should be treated with all necessary spelling and grammar discipline.
Why is this so important to harp on over and over? Because this is not by design a personal expression, this is a business endeavour you're undertaking.
At all times you have to remember before you hit the send button "Is this something that I would send directly to a client? What would the impression be of me if they received this directly?" We put a lot of care into our traditional marketing, in our showrooms, in the quality of our proposals and how we comport ourselves when we meet a potential client.
Do not let your Social Media approach negate it all.
Anyone who knows how to type your company name into Google will immediately get the full frontal of social media blunders if you're not careful.
If someone is going to part with their hard earned dollars and pay you for something (the reason why you're looking to do Social Media in the first place), the feeling that they're entrusting a professional to take care of them is part of this specific social contract.
This is the easiest of all things to correct when pushing out your work - if you don't feel confident enough to proofread yourself, then have someone help you.
(Two examples of excellent and quick rules of thumb to follow can be found on John Sciacca's blog here and here which show you can still be "you" and at the same time maintain your professionalism)
Keep the Content Fresh
This is the next important distinction between traditional marketing and Social Media as part of your marketing approach. Social Media by nature is extemely fast paced and organic by nature, cliches aside this is where that whole interactive thing comes from. I tend to use the term "hyper-reality" when describing the fast pace of the online world and how people interract with it.
The speeds that people seek and ingest information is staggering (for a perfect example look at how newspapers are getting pummeled) so if you decide to embark on hanging your shingle on the interwebs, you've got to commit to putting in the time regularly. And by regular we're not talking every few weeks, we're talking optimally every few days, minimum weekly.
If any of your Social Media posts regularly start with "it's been weeks, months, etc since I've written" - immediately close your Social Media platform. Seriously, just stop - chalk it up to a lesson learned, and move on and regroup. You will cause more damage to your brand approach by being haphazard than if you didn't start in the first place.
Regardless of the actual circumstances that could prevent you from providing fresh content - what it's saying in big bold capital letters is "I CAN'T COMMIT TO OR COMPLETE ANYTHING"
Which leads into the last part...
Set Goals Early and make use of tools to assess them
Your business plan didn't consist of "Ready, Fire, Aim!" did it? (You did amend your business plan for this right?) Don't treat Social Media differently from your business goals because it's new territory. In fact you should be doing the opposite, you should be doing everything you can to quantify the process because either you're investing money and/or time in this.
There's two parts to this: there's the basics and then there's the advanced stuff (and this part I'm just barely learning myself so we've pretty much in it together from that respect) but here's the parts that did make sense to me right out of the gate.
Again a no-brainer, but this is like any discipline. Want to hit a curveball? Want to learn how to play that screaming lick from your favorite album? For this I offer a quote from the the noted Theme Song from philosopher and Cockatiel loving Detective Anthony Vincenzo "Tony" Baretta - "Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Do the Time" - Figure out a way to make it work for you, we all have businesses we work at, and personal and professional obligations - either make time for it or don't start, the only thing worse than not having an audience is alienating the one you gained.
The fastest way to check in on how you're doing - just read your stuff, take out a notepad and check off how many times you've entered info, daily-weekly-monthly - consider the times that you can realistically work on something and measure how many times you actually did what you said you were going to do. This is not for the "I'll get to it later crowd" - Do or Do Not, There Is No Try
You can't see how well or how poorly you're doing if you can't measure your wins and losses. The above items are literally an industry unto themselves, and I'm not qualified to talk at length about them (yet) but just type those phrases into your favorite search site and pour a cup of your favorite beverage and digest you some knowledge boy!
In closing I will include one of my more favorite ways to learn about Social Media Marketing, Search Optimization and Quantification Tools:
I give you "The SEO Rapper" - Learn about Page Rank (click here) and Social Media Marketing (click here)
Peace, Love, and Good Social Media Karma to you,