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Social Media: 6 best practices

Posted by: Howie2.0

Tagged in: ugc , Twitter , strategy , storify , social media , smo , photosynth , online , internet , Google , flickr , Facebook , crowdmap , best practices

Howie2.0

Social media is like Google’s elusive Algorithm which keeps search engine marketers on their toes around the clock. It’s a constantly changing and evolving species of technology meshed with 2-way communication channels, audience scope and UGC.

Everywhere we turn, we’re told that we should have this social networking account and that micro-blogging account – but this is all very jarring lingo to some.

Source: Social Media & Learning

So in plain English, here are the five top social media strategies that I’ve compiled, drawing on the trends, to help those folks out there who need to slow the world down a bit. Let go of your pamphlets for now – and click those knuckles...

6 of the best practices

1.       You need at the very least, the “Trinity” – a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a blog

Each platform has a different purpose and can communicate with each other either through widgets or ‘sharing’ buttons i.e. “Like” or “share” button on Facebook.

2.       Have a social media strategy

You need a plan of action. Who are you (organisation)? What are you offering audiences? Who is your target audience? And all those questions. This is important because if, for example, you’re selling expensive watches to men above the age of 50 – Facebook is not likely to be your best bet. So knowing your audience and how you can reach them effectively is essential.

Included in this consideration is whether you hire someone to oversee the social media of your company or you look at existing roles within the company and decide which job description could be expanded to include handling social media.

3.       Understand your tools and what each can give you

Once you know what you want and who you want to reach – then you need to do some research about the tools available to you. Tools from Flickr (photo sharing) to Crowdmap (collect info and visually represent it on a map), from photosynths (stitches photos together to form 360 degree panoramas and share them) to Storify – each of these can serve a particular need.

For example:

Twitter is great for headlines and teasers with links to your information on your website. It’s also personal (if you follow a customer and they follow you = you can Direct Message (DM) each other). Facebook is great for scope and getting one message across to many. YouTube is a platform which you can upload your own videos and then embed them into many other platforms including blogs. Bear in mind though, that the longer your online video (in minutes), the longer it will take for people to buffer and view it across the country – and a long time spent “buffering” is likely to put them off watching it – so keep videos between three and four minutes ideally.

4.       Social media optimisation (SMO)

Social Media Optimisation, aka SMO or social SEO, is social media put into practice with the goal of attracting unique visitors to website content.

You can do this by:

  • Enabling RSS feeds, ‘sharing’ buttons, user-rating and polling tools and even using external content like images and videos, or by
  •  Blogging, participating in discussion groups, forums and updating information on social networking pages.

SMO can be used as part of an “online reputation management” strategy for anyone who cares about what audiences see/know about them online. It can also be used in marketing, recruiting, customer relations and PR amongst many other areas.

5.       Measure social media metrics

Martin Zwilling wrote an article on the Business Insider detailing some social media best-practices including the need to identify your goals; get attention and reach audiences; measure respect and find influencers; track the emotional sentiment; measure customer response and action and so on.

You need to gauge how people are consuming your content, are they reading articles? Are they leaving comments or are they more driven to complete certain polls?

Once you know what they like from what you offer, then use that for conversions. Get them to take an action because that's where the company’s profit lies (Return on Investment).

6.       Get your colleagues involved

Most companies have social networking restrictions that block access to Facebook, YouTube etc. This is a double-edged sword, on the one hand it prevents people from wasting time and decreasing production outputs, on the other hand it limits the social media potential of the company.

If every staff member in the company was allowed access for a certain amount of time so they may upload information onto their platforms, whilst adhering to a social media policy, then the businesses online presence would likely increase.

Final thoughts

The General Manager of Communications & Public Affairs for BMW, Guy Kilfoil, has some interesting thoughts, “Once you open a channel [Twitter account or Facebook etc], you have to keep that channel open. You simply cannot only engage when you feel like it – and I think that's the problem with going into social media without a strategy. You need to be able to go into this area and stay in it for the good and the bad with a purpose of forging relationships. A relationship is never one-sided so you can’t expect to deliver content to people and not have them come back to you and ask questions about it, engage and challenge you.”

Two more things; be open and honest with your followers and interact with them and remember that anything you write online can be made public – so watch what you say (That's why social media policies are important to implement).

 

Some more multimedia to check out…

 Videos

Social media revolution

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this video:

Social media in plain English
You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this video

 Infographics (a great way to visually represent statistics)

Social Media Management for Small Businesses

The Facebook effect on relationships

How we use social media during emergencies

 More useful links

5 Best practices for social media strategy in Communication Departments

Comments (1)Add Comment
Howie2.0
...
written by Howie2.0, August 23, 2011
If anybody has any other really useful links to Social Media articles or videos etc... feel free to pop them in a comment - the more information, the more it will helps others.

thanks smilies/smiley.gif

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