2 Approaches to an Effective Social Media Strategy

So you want to dominate social media? Engagement is your livelihood, but there’s no silver bullet. Unfortunately, nor can you leave it all up to an intern just because they seem “with it.”

Go Small to be Big
To ramp up the reach and efficacy of our social media marketing, one idea might be to run a campaign for each contest, applying to each the principles that apply to the whole. As we all know, social media is not an end in itself, but the means to our end. Remember that the power of social media is in just that – social networks built on relationships.

First Things First: “Like” Your Partners
The best place to start promoting something is within an existing receptive market. If you’re selling hamburgers you don’t go to a vegetarian conference, right? So first thing first is to “like” and engage our partners so you can tap their network. With that in mind, for a recent client running promotions for retailers, I “liked” StreetJeans and poked around a bit (names changed for privacy). A great way to make partners “like” you back and pay attention is by sharing their content. So make sure you’re liking and engaging the audience of whatever you’re doing. This has a number of powerful implications:

Have @ it! – Our Network is Their Network
Once you “like” or “friend” something or someone, respectively, you can use the @ sign to tap into that entity’s network (ex: @StreetDenim) You supplement that post by also tapping into a personal network, namely, a “friend.” For example, take this post I put up on my client’s Facebook fanpage:

Looks like our friend Karen Smarts is heading to NY today- I bet she wishes she had Manhattan-ready Street Denim jeans to wear- for FREE! Join our contest! (maybe next time, Kate!) Street Denim: always in Fashion!

Note the personal connection to this DCN “friend” Karen. In about 8 seconds of looking through the client’s “friends,” I saw that she was a) going to NY that night and b) had engaged the client in the past (and thus would be more likely to play along). So not only did it alert her to our promotion, notify her friends through her wall, and encourage her to spread the word, it also shows everyone else that we’re at a human level listening to our audience. People love when you listen, right?

I also “liked” the other words in blue. Everyone that puts “fashion” on their profile as an interest, they become part of that group. If you “like” that group, when you post a reference to it your message shows up in their feed. If I had left all those @’s out, our post would have pushed out to an audience of 156 people. Tapping into all those networks, however, pushed the message out to a first-level audience of NEARLY A QUARTER MILLION PEOPLE:

742,706 @fashion
3,056 @denim
382 @Gridlock
1,137 @kateshiers
156 Client
747,437 first level post audience <–neat, eh? This doesn’t even include sharing of content, which rapidly increases your messaging power.

Don’t Abandon the Profile Page
A Facebook fanpage is great because it lets clients contact members in bulk, provides invaluable data, more easily engage customers, and “suggest” your page to friends. The profile page, though, still has its merit as the face of the account. To that end, it’s a great lead generator for the fanpage. The profile page lets clients share other people’s stuff that’s relevant to their stuff. For example, I shared (posted to client’s profile) Street Jean’s own photo album (noting our contest, of course), which someone at Michigan State promptly posted to her wall. Audience from that? 2,037 of her friends plus our 91 friends = 2,128 people, accessed by repurposing other people’s cool content. You don’t always have to create content to benefit from it. Meanwhile, I asked the creator of the album to become our friend. Isn’t this fun!?

Know Thy Friends
The better you know your friends and fans, the better you can reach them with information that resonates. It’s best practice when you get a new friend request to note the interest of that person. It’s not stalking, they’ve publicly posted information to share a bit about who they are and what makes them unique. Music? Media? Sports? This information should be noted and segmented so you know how to position your offerings to increase conversion activity. Doing this proactively means you’re providing information to the right people who will on the whole value your customization. Remember, it’s not spam if a person values your content and senses your credibility. People express themselves through brands all the time. Own a Polo Shirt? North Face jacket. You get the picture.

Those are some Facebook basics (i.e. low-hanging fruit), so I won’t at this time go into more specific strategy concepts. There is still, however, Twitter.

Relationships are King
Though many organizations successfully treat Twitter as a convenient press release service (@nytimes, @WSJ, @BarackObama, etc.), it’s really about relationships, and building those relationships into a receptive audience.

Golden Rule – promote others before thyself
My golden rule of Twitter is to share other people’s content, by re-tweeting their blog post, clever comment, or cool link -anything- at least 5 times before you share your own stuff. 5:1. Intuitively, people are much more likely to pass along information to their followers if you have supported them in the past.

Find Influencers and Engage
There are tons of sites that let you find people based on their expertise. Listorious.com, for example, categorizes top tweeters. Search.Twitter.com lets you search for keywords in real time (more on that in a second). Monitter.com goes further and lets you track multiple keywords, sort of like The Matrix.

Not everyone is on Twitter, compared to the near ubiquitous Facebook, but the people that are essentially control your brand. Plus, you never know where your efforts will lead. I used search.twitter.com to query “jeans contest.” I quickly found out that something called Urban Denim was also running a promotion. Tons of people have tweets just like this:

@sarahowdy: I want to win the @UrbanDenim #contest!

That search provides two valuable pieces of information:

Retweet (RT) campaigns work (typically a person who RT’d the message is randomly selected as a winner, or performed some act), since loads of folks retweeted what Urban Denim told them to.
There’s people on twitter, some of who probably would like the client’s jeans, and wouldn’t say no to a free pair. Hence my response:
Client: @sarahowdy Or U could win @StreetDemin jeans instead! We’re giving away pairs, & chance 2 star in our commercial! [link to offer] Pls RT!

A funny thing happened- she did retweet to her followers!

@sarahowdy: RT @Client: @sarahowdy Or U could win @StreetDemin jeans instead! We’re giving away pairs, & chance 2 star in our commercial! [link to offer]

Audience reach? Our 457 followers plus her 1,532 followers- this from a lady whose Twitter bio literally says she “Lives for jeans”! You can’t buy that kind of access.


Niche Marketing is Powerful – Building a Receptive Audience
Obviously, you don’t want your Twitter account to be clogged with advertisements. Don’t be afraid to start different accounts that link to the primary account. This will allow you to focus on niches, or segments of your customer base, that are exciting to them but boring to others. Engagement has a lot to do with encoding and delivering your messages to specific people, while not bothering the rest.

The moral of the story is use freely available social technology to tap into existing networks, build relationships, and spot opportunities.