I have read books, spent hours learning all the terms and techniques. I have followed blogs and experts. I have learned the 7 top tips for writing posts on LinkedIN, the 10 Big tips for blogging by Rutger's University.
I have learned about Search Engine Optimisation, Backlinks, Hashtags and Keywords.
Yes, I have had some successes 680 contacts on LinkedIN, 153 followers on Twitter. I have written 1300 tweets, 40 or so blog posts (2-3 a month).
Now, experts will tell you this is probably not enough, that you need to do more.
My point is that if you are a small business or charity or social enterprise, social media is not free from cost. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make any real progress.
Before you even open a social media account you need to:
1) Be clear who your target audience is.
2) Know what social media they prefer
3) Be clear exactly what you want to do with social media
4) Be prepared to put some time and effort into it or pay a professional.
You need to have a clear customer profile, different audiences use different media.
Know your Social Media
This infographic was produced by Leverage (new age media).com and shows some useful characteristics to help you decide which platforms best suit your organisation.
Know what you want to do
First thing to ask yourself is why. Why do you want to engage with social media?
Are you trying to drive people to your website or want to engage with them to build relationships? Tools like Twitter may be all you need to get people to visit your website. If your product/ service is more personal or involved then you might want to look a relational sites like Facebook, LinkedIN or Google+.
The important thing is you need to build useful content, you have to have something worthwhile to say. Digital marketing company Marketo say the "posting for the sake of posting can actually hurt your chances of being seen".
If your product/service benefits from being seen then video might be a good way of doing this and so You Tube might be a better option.
DIY or Pay?
Even if yo have a lot of ideas for content you still need to get a good understanding of the technicalities especially Search Engine Optimisation. There are excellent sites like SEO BOOK where you can learn all about it.
The thing most people do not appreciate is the point that it is easy enough to create an internet presence but hard to get people to see it.
A colleague of mine wanted to launch some management training and came up with a powerful title, but when I typed in his words we had 36 million results! After some lengthy discussions he agreed with me the best option was not to create a website but just set up an account in LinkedIN.
Social Media can be a big waste of time if you do not do it properly. Don't assume you have to go social, traditional marketing may well be the best for you. If you think it could help then:
1) Appreciate the points above
2) Play with one platform at a time.
3) Be prepared to put time or money into it.
4) Watch this short 2min video, you will understand the things a bit better.
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