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5 Steps To a Winning Social Media Strategy

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If I could teach companies one thing about social media and know that they'd "get it" before I walked out of the room it would be that social media is not a quick-fix. Like most strategies in internet marketing it takes time, commitment, consistency and effort. If you are not willing to invest in social media it will never bring you the results that you desire.

Social media isn't just about signing onto Facebook, Tweeting, creating a LinkedIn profile or signing up for Google Plus. To get value from social media, you must share value. I'm going to show you how to get, share and integrate value into your social media strategy.

I like to think of social media like a ladder, you climb up one-step at a time until you reach the top. When you reach the top your plain is solid and your efforts will be noticed by your prospective clients and customers. Now, with that being said let me remind you the strategy works, but it will not work overnight - it's going to take you being dedicated and investing time daily to create a solid foundation.

Are you ready to get started? If so, let's proceed.

Social media is about learning, listening and creating relationships. Social media gives us the ability to:

  • Listen to your potential customers and clients and gain intelligence.
  • Learn about what it is they want. What are they looking for? How can you help?
  • Build relationships, because people want to buy from people that they not only know, but that they like.

We are enabled through social media to build authentic and personal connections and in return those connections will help us in growing our businesses. Those connections will come from sharing value - not selling.

The social media strategy ladder looks like this:

  • Step 1: Content
  • Step 2: RSS (Real Simple Syndication)
  • Step 3: Social Search
  • Step 4: Social Bookmarking
  • Step 5: Social Networks

Each step is in order of importance and where you should spend the most time. Let's take a look at each step individually -

  • Step 1- Content
    Don't you dare moan! I know that content takes time and effort, but remember I didn't tell you this would be easy. There are some that will refer to content as blogging, I prefer to call it content so that you don't think I'm referring to writing about what you had for lunch yesterday. Content is the foundation of social media marketing. Content will leave a longer lasting impression than anything else, so it arms you with value that can be shared. Content will engage your target audience and drive profitable action to your business. Content also isn't just about your content, it's about reading content from others commenting on that content and sharing. You will get back as much as you put into others - if you can keep that in mind you will be well on your way to building a strong and reciprocating foundation.

  • Step 2 - RSS
    What is RSS? I view RSS as an easy way curate information that will give you ideas, help you think of new topics and also give you information to share with your networks. RSS stands or real simple syndication. It’s an easy way to aggregate and filter content around particular subjects that interest you and your target audience. RSS is easy to use and is delivered right to your desktop. My personal favorite RSS reader is Google Reader, it's one of my 7 time saving tools that I use.

  • Step 3 - Social Search
    That's right, social search has increased in importance over the last few years. Social search is the integration of personal social results and their social graph in public search listings. What you say and what others say about your business on social networks, gets listed. You can use social search to not only stimulate conversation, but to also assist you in managing your reputation. Do you see how your content plays into social search? By posting content or sharing content it will begin to appear in the search engine results of those that have your business in their social graph. This is still playing out and this is just the beginning, but my personal opinion is we will start to see social search take the place of search engine optimization on a broader scale.

  • Step 4 - Social Bookmarking
    Social Bookmarking sites provide you with a way to find and bookmark and tag stuff all over the web.   You can curate information that interests you and share it with your social bookmarking community. Tagging content to and participating in social bookmarking communities is a great way to open up more channels to your business and drive search traffic.  Sounds great, right?  Good – because it takes work. Social bookmarking creates valuable links and search engine juice, these two things empower your content to rank higher in search engine results.   Creating a systematic approach to social bookmarking, will help in building hundreds of links to your website and in return creating hurdles for your competition on key search terms.

  • Step 5- Social Networks
    Last, but not least your social media strategy must include social media networks, but it's not where you should spend the majority of your time. Branch out and take advantage of the numbers of potential prospects that you might find in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ but unless you’ve implemented the previous steps climbed up the ladder, you will only find frustration.   The social networks take time to understand and they thrive on content and new ideas, but without anything to share I’m afraid you will not see the positive impact on your business that you hope for.   Social networks should work to grow your business, not just suck away your time. Social networks networks carry a lot of value to your business, but without content and engagement these networks will leave you empty handed.

Social media does have value, but you must be willing to:

  • Climb the social media marketing ladder and invest in each and every step.
  • Develop a clear and concise strategy that you and your team can follow.
  • Be committed.
  • Be consistent.
  • Set benchmarks and milestones to gauge what's working and what's not working - this will help in finding social media marketing success.

Social media marketing does work, but it does not work overnight - it takes work! Invest in it, you won't regret it.

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