Invest for Success: 15 Steps to Effective Social Media Marketing and Better Blogging

Blog Marketing

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the two-day MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago. Not only did I walk away with some new friends, I took with me a plethora of  new ideas and actionable items from the best of the best in the world of blogging and Social Media.

The common theme? Your blog and Social Media presence is an INVESTMENT – An investment that takes patience and perseverance to see real success. It’s also an investment with goals and benchmarks that will continually adapt and change.

In a market that is constantly evolving, it’s important (although sometimes difficult) to not only maintain a steady pace, but to stay one step ahead of the rest. Here are 15 ideas that I took away and will implement/continue to implement in what I do (and you should too).

(1) Build credibility before you sell Social Media

Whether your marketing your blog or your business – your Social Media goal must include a value proposition to your followers, friends, and connections. If you aren’t sharing anything of value, why bother sharing anything at all? Through becoming a resource of information, whatever your niche may be, you build credibility and validity – giving people a reason to care about what you have to say.

(2) Join the RIGHT conversations at the RIGHT time

What is the single most important practice in the world of Social Media? LISTENING. To be followed closely by ACTION. Paying attention to your surroundings, listening to conversations, and then jumping into those conversations at the right time is how you establish new connections, generate leads, and build your overall community. Just as listening is nothing without action, your actions will miss the mark if you aren’t listening.

(3) Test the unusual

Social Media isn’t safe, it isn’t comfortable – it’s unpredictable and constantly changing. Don’t fight the change, embrace it and add to it. The best way to keep both yourself and your audience invested and interested is to push boundaries, step out of your comfort zone, and do some things you’ve never done before. Be bold, be innovative, be unique, and above all, be yourself.

(4) Use Your Community as a free Market Research Program

We talk so much about the “giving” of Social Media but it’s just as important to remember that there can be just as much “taking”. Ask questions and request feedback. Don’t talk TO your audience, talk WITH them. Tap into the power of community and use it to your advantage.

(5) Engage in online communities as a person first, as a marketer second

Don’t kid yourself, you’re going to promote yourself and the work you do both on and off-line. But think of Social Media as a conversation tool, not a direct advertising medium. Approach your audience and community as an engaging conversationalist rather than a sales rep. You’ll establish brand credibility simply by being “present” in your respective niche.

(6) Optimize all your content for search

I get asked all the time about the importance of SEO. Optimizing your site for “organic” search traffic is supremely important to the overall success and growth of your blog. The more people who find you naturally, the less you have to worry about self-promotion. Give your SEO the up-front face time it deserves and watch your community flourish naturally.

(7) Create a positive “brand experience” by establishing relationships across the social web

Throughout this blog you will hear me preach about “relationship marketing”. Relationships are the foundation of any good business. Be developing solid relationships with your audience, you create a community of brand evangelists – people who will promote and market your stuff for you. We’re much quicker to believe the opinion of our friends than a representative of the brand/blog/individual promoting themselves.

(8) When you launch a blog or twitter account, set goals, measure, iterate

Especially important for businesses, but equally important for individuals: Set goals for yourself (and be specific). If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever know how to get there? Monitor your analytics, followers, subscribers, new visitors, etc. and set benchmarks to measure success along the way.

(9) Be organized internally to effectively manage social media (and your blog) externally

If you dig through my archives you’ll see that I’ve stressed the importance of time-management, organization, and scheduling. For your blog and Social Media platform to be effective, you have to be willing to give it the time and attention it deserves. There is no “autopilot” – Effective Social Media management requires hands-on MANAGEMENT.

(10) Humanize your blog

There are a million people out there blogging about social media, marketing, Generation Y, and so on. What makes my blog (and your blog) unique is the perspective you and I bring to the table. Everything has been talked about by someone, somewhere – but what no one can do is be YOU. Be yourself, bring your own voice and attitude into your writing, and most importantly, don’t try to be someone you’re not – your audience will see right through you.

(11) Provide your community something that is personally beneficial to them

While sharing your “human side” is important, your readers (typically) aren’t coming to your blog to read about you – instead, they’re coming in hopes that you’ll provide them with something they can take away and apply to their own lives. In everything you write, no matter how personal it may be, find a way to related it to a wider audience. Apply what you’ve been through to what others might be going through. Making that personal connection is the key to effective writing.

(12) Let your members decide how they want to use ‘their’ community

Provide simple navigation, easy sharing, and CLEARLY STATED CALLS TO ACTION. Give your community the tools, provide them with options, and make it easy for them to interact and engage with your site. The fastest way to lose a member of your community is by confusing them. Provide options while maintaining the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) strategy.

(13) Be mindful of people’s time, attention, and surroundings

Are short, concise posts or longer, detailed articles more effective? There’s no clear answer here and there are pros and cons to both. Regardless, it’s important to consider your audience’s time and attention. While a shorter post may invoke more real-time response and back and forth discussion, extensive, well researched pieces may hold significant long-term value. There’s a time and place for both.

(14) Don’t get (too) caught up in the numbers

Throughout your blog’s tenure, there are going to be ups and downs, flash in the pan successes, and periods of inactivity. You’re not going to be at the top of your game 100% of the time. Don’t get down – adapt and coordinate with what your analytics and community is telling you. If you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, there’s no shame in asking. Don’t worry about the day-to-day – instead – focus on the big picture

(15) Invest in Social Media. It’s not free

Ultimately – Social Media is an investment. It requires time, commitment, patience, sacrifice, and hard work. If you’re not willing to invest the time and effort, maybe Social Media isn’t for you. The output is measured by the input you put in. In short, you get what you give.

Remember: You do not have to be on the Social Media bandwagon just to say you are doing it. Focus on the tools that best fit your strategy and goals. It may not be for everyone but there is real value in the medium for anyone who is willing to invest the time toward it’s success.

How are you using Social Media to market your blog? Share some mistakes you’ve learned from and best practices you currently have in place.

(Photo via websuccessdiva)


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57 Responses
  • Lindsey Reply

    Love the KISS strategy!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think that really is the essence of all of this Lindsey – that less is more, and that strategy, goal setting, and implementation should all be simple and streamlined (whether your a big business or an up-and-coming blogger.

  • Lindsey Reply

    Love the KISS strategy!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think that really is the essence of all of this Lindsey – that less is more, and that strategy, goal setting, and implementation should all be simple and streamlined (whether your a big business or an up-and-coming blogger.

  • Trace Cohen Reply

    This is a great resource for anyone diving into the social media world. I feel that the overarching meaning behind this post is that is takes patience to do this and a lot of hard work. Definitely looking at the big pictures helps as you try to see where each part fits in and plays it’s role.

    To counteract the hard work, you need to make this something that you enjoy. If social media is stressing you out and you have to be someone that you are not, then you are doing it wrong and should not do it at all. And remember that you are not the only one out there – take yourself out of the picture – a lot of other people are doing the same thing and are willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask! (Step 16)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      It is hard work, without a doubt Trace – that, alongside the “measurement and goal setting” piece, were my two main takeaways from the conference last week. We talk so much about Social Media being an intangible medium (heck – I’ve even written about it) but in reality, it isn’t. It is one of the most measurable mediums we have as marketers and advertisers, and totally changes the game when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. If you have a bad (or good) experience, you don’t just tell your friends anymore, you tell EVERYONE that will listen.

      ASKING QUESTIONS is a critical step to success – one of the first steps has to be admitting that you don’t know everything. Once you do that, you open yourself up to a whole world of learning. There are a lot of Social Media snobs out there – don’t become one of them.

  • Trace Cohen Reply

    This is a great resource for anyone diving into the social media world. I feel that the overarching meaning behind this post is that is takes patience to do this and a lot of hard work. Definitely looking at the big pictures helps as you try to see where each part fits in and plays it’s role.

    To counteract the hard work, you need to make this something that you enjoy. If social media is stressing you out and you have to be someone that you are not, then you are doing it wrong and should not do it at all. And remember that you are not the only one out there – take yourself out of the picture – a lot of other people are doing the same thing and are willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask! (Step 16)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      It is hard work, without a doubt Trace – that, alongside the “measurement and goal setting” piece, were my two main takeaways from the conference last week. We talk so much about Social Media being an intangible medium (heck – I’ve even written about it) but in reality, it isn’t. It is one of the most measurable mediums we have as marketers and advertisers, and totally changes the game when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. If you have a bad (or good) experience, you don’t just tell your friends anymore, you tell EVERYONE that will listen.

      ASKING QUESTIONS is a critical step to success – one of the first steps has to be admitting that you don’t know everything. Once you do that, you open yourself up to a whole world of learning. There are a lot of Social Media snobs out there – don’t become one of them.

  • Sonny Gill Reply

    Matt – great recap of the Mixer from last week! You hit on some great points, as I’ll add one of my own (that I wrote about) – Testing.

    There are misconceptions that we have to nail social media from the get go, to not make any mistakes, and to do things seamlessly. Well, it is ok to fail and to try again – but what I’ve really learned is to make sure you’re testing, measuring and optimizing your strategies, giving you the ability to see if you need to change things up or do it differently. That should go with any discipline, but we all could use this reminder at times.

    Really glad we got to meet and hang out last week. You’re a smart dude and definitely will be looking out for you in this space.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I was sure to include the “Test the Unusual” point above Sonny – I think it is SO important to put yourself out there and try new things – even if you fail time and time again, you’ll keep learning and growing, and eventually, you’ll end up with something pretty amazing. As you said, along the way, it’s imperative that measurement, benchmarking, and optimizing your strategy is part of the program you develop.

      Likewise RE: meeting last week my man. It was great to meet you and bounce some ideas around. No doubt there will be some collaborative projects to be had in the near future. Looking forward to it!

  • Sonny Gill Reply

    Matt – great recap of the Mixer from last week! You hit on some great points, as I’ll add one of my own (that I wrote about) – Testing.

    There are misconceptions that we have to nail social media from the get go, to not make any mistakes, and to do things seamlessly. Well, it is ok to fail and to try again – but what I’ve really learned is to make sure you’re testing, measuring and optimizing your strategies, giving you the ability to see if you need to change things up or do it differently. That should go with any discipline, but we all could use this reminder at times.

    Really glad we got to meet and hang out last week. You’re a smart dude and definitely will be looking out for you in this space.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I was sure to include the “Test the Unusual” point above Sonny – I think it is SO important to put yourself out there and try new things – even if you fail time and time again, you’ll keep learning and growing, and eventually, you’ll end up with something pretty amazing. As you said, along the way, it’s imperative that measurement, benchmarking, and optimizing your strategy is part of the program you develop.

      Likewise RE: meeting last week my man. It was great to meet you and bounce some ideas around. No doubt there will be some collaborative projects to be had in the near future. Looking forward to it!

  • Rich DeMatteo Reply

    Matt – really like #3. Continually pushing the envelope is exciting. Sure, new things may feel weird, but people normally do enjoy weird. If people want normal they’ll go order a turkey sandwich.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      In the end, you’ll only know what works (and doesn’t work) by putting yourself out there and trying new things. People may not want the “weird” but they do want the innovative and those who are breaking down walls to new boundaries. We all inherently want to be challenged and pushed further. We benchmark our own success and status next to those innovators within our respective field.

  • Rich DeMatteo Reply

    Matt – really like #3. Continually pushing the envelope is exciting. Sure, new things may feel weird, but people normally do enjoy weird. If people want normal they’ll go order a turkey sandwich.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      In the end, you’ll only know what works (and doesn’t work) by putting yourself out there and trying new things. People may not want the “weird” but they do want the innovative and those who are breaking down walls to new boundaries. We all inherently want to be challenged and pushed further. We benchmark our own success and status next to those innovators within our respective field.

  • Phaoloo Reply

    They are essential things everyone should read first before launching a new blog.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for the comment Phaoloo – but I’ll take it a step further and say this has value for both people who are looking to start a blog, and those who have been running their blog for years. It’s always important to take a step back and rethink strategy, approach, etc. You never want to become TOO content in your ways, even if whatever you’re doing is working. From time to time you still need to reinvent the wheel to keep things fresh. Cheers!

  • Phaoloo Reply

    They are essential things everyone should read first before launching a new blog.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for the comment Phaoloo – but I’ll take it a step further and say this has value for both people who are looking to start a blog, and those who have been running their blog for years. It’s always important to take a step back and rethink strategy, approach, etc. You never want to become TOO content in your ways, even if whatever you’re doing is working. From time to time you still need to reinvent the wheel to keep things fresh. Cheers!

  • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

    Hello Matt. I’m learning more and more that blogging and social media is a TIME investment. Also, learning to stay patient and not get discouraged is essential as you mentioned. Just because you are sowing, doesn’t mean you’re going to reap the fruits right away. Like anything else in life: commitment, patience and time investment will eventually lead to reaping the fruits of blogging and social media. Also, I quickly learned that you don’t want to spam people about your blog. Give them tips, attract their attention, but don’t just throw information at them. I agree with you, I think we need to realize that our blogs are not going to be on top 100% of the time. There are ups and downs. Quality relationships matter way more than a quantity of followers and acquaintances. Great post as always Matt!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks Aysel – blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to look at your comments, pageviews, and visits every day and get discouraged. Don’t focus in on a micro level – and instead take in the big picture. Through the ups and downs, are you still growing? Still moving in the right direction? If the answer is yes, then you’re doing something right.

      If you truly can make that INVESTMENT – the results WILL come in time.

  • Aysel Vandeventer Reply

    Hello Matt. I’m learning more and more that blogging and social media is a TIME investment. Also, learning to stay patient and not get discouraged is essential as you mentioned. Just because you are sowing, doesn’t mean you’re going to reap the fruits right away. Like anything else in life: commitment, patience and time investment will eventually lead to reaping the fruits of blogging and social media. Also, I quickly learned that you don’t want to spam people about your blog. Give them tips, attract their attention, but don’t just throw information at them. I agree with you, I think we need to realize that our blogs are not going to be on top 100% of the time. There are ups and downs. Quality relationships matter way more than a quantity of followers and acquaintances. Great post as always Matt!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks Aysel – blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to look at your comments, pageviews, and visits every day and get discouraged. Don’t focus in on a micro level – and instead take in the big picture. Through the ups and downs, are you still growing? Still moving in the right direction? If the answer is yes, then you’re doing something right.

      If you truly can make that INVESTMENT – the results WILL come in time.

  • Robert Reply

    You had me at investment. Awesome take aways…blogs are like slow cookers, not george formans.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      GREAT analogy Robert – love it. George Foreman’s are just so darn convenient though! :)

  • Robert Reply

    You had me at investment. Awesome take aways…blogs are like slow cookers, not george formans.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      GREAT analogy Robert – love it. George Foreman’s are just so darn convenient though! :)

  • John Bardos - JetSetCitizen Reply

    Thanks for the great summary.

    I believe that all the technology in our lives is actually making us more human. Authenticity is becoming increasingly important. All of us have access to the same technologies so the only way to differentiate ourselves is by being ourselves. Real people working hard to establish real connections with other real people is the future of business.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for stopping in John – by the way, I love the interviews you do over at JSC – would love to sit down with you sometime if my story would be of value at all to your readers.

      You make a point that is very interesting – and contradicts what most people will say – that technology is actually making us MORE human. But I actually think you’re right. How many people have you met on Twitter, on a blog, have established a relationship, and then months later you finally meet. It’s so weird because you feel like you know them SO well and then finally see them face to face – it’s like the reuniting of long lost BFF’s! (With the occasional creeper who is a totally different person face to face.

      Social media, especially, is taking the idea of “transparency” to new heights. I would encourage any potential employer to read through my blog and Twitter stream to get a clear perspective into who I am. That’s what these platforms should be, in my opinion – a clear reflection of your “real life” self. Thanks for inspiring the thoughts this AM John.

    • Andrey Reply

      I’ve really liked a lot of your posts, but this one is prlobbay my favorite so far. That is the cutest dog. They look like a good pair, those two. I normally like to tell you which photo is my favorite, but I liked all of these!

  • John Bardos - JetSetCitizen Reply

    Thanks for the great summary.

    I believe that all the technology in our lives is actually making us more human. Authenticity is becoming increasingly important. All of us have access to the same technologies so the only way to differentiate ourselves is by being ourselves. Real people working hard to establish real connections with other real people is the future of business.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for stopping in John – by the way, I love the interviews you do over at JSC – would love to sit down with you sometime if my story would be of value at all to your readers.

      You make a point that is very interesting – and contradicts what most people will say – that technology is actually making us MORE human. But I actually think you’re right. How many people have you met on Twitter, on a blog, have established a relationship, and then months later you finally meet. It’s so weird because you feel like you know them SO well and then finally see them face to face – it’s like the reuniting of long lost BFF’s! (With the occasional creeper who is a totally different person face to face.

      Social media, especially, is taking the idea of “transparency” to new heights. I would encourage any potential employer to read through my blog and Twitter stream to get a clear perspective into who I am. That’s what these platforms should be, in my opinion – a clear reflection of your “real life” self. Thanks for inspiring the thoughts this AM John.

  • Jeff Marmins Reply

    Exceptional list. We teach building a ‘Credibility Plateau(tm)” online that correlates directly to your 1st, and i think most important, point. Listening is crucial but so is having the appropriate customer service mechanism for reacting and sharing what action you’ve put forth based upon what you’ve heard – AND THEN giving credit for where the idea / suggestion came from…this is really allowing your customer control your brand. Social technology as a humanizing element is obvious in the extension of conferences, events, tweetups and the like. We want to connect, see and know who is paying attention. It’s the opposite of the Faith Popcorn “Cocooning” prediction. Thanks for the post.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      No problem Jeff – thanks for adding your insight here. That was the common theme at this conference – that while listening is important and perhaps the most crucial element of effective Social Media Management – it’s nothing without action and follow-through. Knowing the right time to engage and interact with your audience, measuring and setting goals for your engagement, and so on.

  • Jeff Marmins Reply

    Exceptional list. We teach building a ‘Credibility Plateau(tm)” online that correlates directly to your 1st, and i think most important, point. Listening is crucial but so is having the appropriate customer service mechanism for reacting and sharing what action you’ve put forth based upon what you’ve heard – AND THEN giving credit for where the idea / suggestion came from…this is really allowing your customer control your brand. Social technology as a humanizing element is obvious in the extension of conferences, events, tweetups and the like. We want to connect, see and know who is paying attention. It’s the opposite of the Faith Popcorn “Cocooning” prediction. Thanks for the post.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      No problem Jeff – thanks for adding your insight here. That was the common theme at this conference – that while listening is important and perhaps the most crucial element of effective Social Media Management – it’s nothing without action and follow-through. Knowing the right time to engage and interact with your audience, measuring and setting goals for your engagement, and so on.

  • Brenton Gieser Reply

    Your point about personalization is spot on. However, some people find it difficult to balance transparency with professionalism. I think with social media being so “open” the lines are being blurred and more people (like yourself) are able to build a strong personal brand with your own touch…while still keeping your employers happy. Have you written on that topic before?

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I actually did an (audio) post titled “How Transparent Are You Online?” – where I sort of touch on this topic, using Penelope Trunk as an example. http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/podcast/how-transparent-are-you-online/

      You’re right though, the line does blur – it’s all about balancing professionalism while humanizing your approach. Give the post a listen – would love to hear your thoughts over there.

  • Brenton Gieser Reply

    Your point about personalization is spot on. However, some people find it difficult to balance transparency with professionalism. I think with social media being so “open” the lines are being blurred and more people (like yourself) are able to build a strong personal brand with your own touch…while still keeping your employers happy. Have you written on that topic before?

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I actually did an (audio) post titled “How Transparent Are You Online?” – where I sort of touch on this topic, using Penelope Trunk as an example. http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/podcast/how-transparent-are-you-online/

      You’re right though, the line does blur – it’s all about balancing professionalism while humanizing your approach. Give the post a listen – would love to hear your thoughts over there.

  • Dave Smith Reply

    Matt, I think you missed one vital point about blogging… Make sure you proof read it and learn how to use proper grammar. I.e. Which “your” to use, and making sure you don’t put things like “creative a positive”…

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for the heads up Dave. Nice catch with the “creative a positive” piece. I checked through the uses of “your” and might still be missing what you saw – but I’ll be the first to admit that my copy-editing skills are not my forte and can use some improvement. Thanks for coming by!

      • Dave Smith Reply

        It’s a great blog and I don’t mean to come across like a pedantic tosser, the bit I meant was “Whether your marketing your blog or your business ” should read “Whether you’re marketing your blog or your business “. Like I say, I was in a bad mood and just being critical!

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s fine Dave. Came across a little jerk-ish but we all have our bad days. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Dave Smith Reply

    Matt, I think you missed one vital point about blogging… Make sure you proof read it and learn how to use proper grammar. I.e. Which “your” to use, and making sure you don’t put things like “creative a positive”…

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Thanks for the heads up Dave. Nice catch with the “creative a positive” piece. I checked through the uses of “your” and might still be missing what you saw – but I’ll be the first to admit that my copy-editing skills are not my forte and can use some improvement. Thanks for coming by!

      • Dave Smith Reply

        It’s a great blog and I don’t mean to come across like a pedantic tosser, the bit I meant was “Whether your marketing your blog or your business ” should read “Whether you’re marketing your blog or your business “. Like I say, I was in a bad mood and just being critical!

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s fine Dave. Came across a little jerk-ish but we all have our bad days. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Tina Reply

    I think you must like people and enjoy the social interaction above all else. That means listening as well as speaking!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Listening is just as, if not more important than actually speaking. It’s all about listening, paying attention, and knowing the right time to jump in and engage. Cheers!

  • Tina Reply

    I think you must like people and enjoy the social interaction above all else. That means listening as well as speaking!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Listening is just as, if not more important than actually speaking. It’s all about listening, paying attention, and knowing the right time to jump in and engage. Cheers!

  • Jeff Marmins Reply

    Have candor and expect it. Be audacious. Be generous. Aren’t these rules for any social situation? And, if you want to stay engaged in the conversation, it pays to subscribe to the comment thread. :)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Good advice Jeff…consider this a test to see if you subscribed to THIS comment thread to stay engaged…:)

  • Jeff Marmins Reply

    Have candor and expect it. Be audacious. Be generous. Aren’t these rules for any social situation? And, if you want to stay engaged in the conversation, it pays to subscribe to the comment thread. :)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Good advice Jeff…consider this a test to see if you subscribed to THIS comment thread to stay engaged…:)

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