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)