I don't know about you, but I've had a big dark hole in my consciousness for a while around social media (Web 2.0). I've read about it eagerly, and visited plenty of MySpace and Face Book pages. I've been invited again and again to link up with this person, or 'friend' that person ... and I've done so generally. All the while aware that I have no master plan here - no strategy.
And then there's Digg, del.icious, YouTube and a host of other social bookmarking sites - where do they fit in overall? Basically, I've felt like I had no clue what I was doing.
But now I REALLY need a social media strategy as I enter a particular 2.0 arena - comedy/performing. MySpace is ground zero for comics and musicians, and as I begin to tour my one woman show nationally, "Dr. Serenity Hawkfire's Beyond Being Workshop" ... well, I need to get known online -- like yesterday!
I've dug in with gusto, and concluded that most businesses need this kind of Web support. Here are some steps I've put together that will help you put the right social media energy on the Web.
1. Create a viable, branded, platform-ready web presence, preferably on a blog. Blogs are the new standard for websites because they are easy to index on Google and Yahoo, and they come with their own built in community (the blogosphere.) (For help getting started on what your own brand should be, see my product Platform in a Box.)
2. Get on the social bookmarking sites. There's a handy list that categorizes the top 30 by traffic, monthly visitors, Google Page Rank, etc at click here
. Work the communities you choose (and you certainly don't have to choose all of them) by setting up a presence there. Many of these sites index 'the best of' stuff, or pass along bookmarks ... so submit yours! Keep conversations going, make sure you're stuff is at least loaded on all top 30 sites. Where it seems relevant, drop in and join the conversation. (Some of these sites are specific to certain genres, i.e. Digg is techno-heavy.)
3. Get familiar with social networking sites, and pick 3-4 that serve your market and get traffic. TAKE NOTE: while 'adults' have merged with the young on these sites, the big ones are still dominated by the under 25 crowd. You will find some adults on MySpace and Linked In for sure, but don't put inordinate amounts of time on the others if the young crowd is not your audience. There's a good list that breaks these sites down by global market and reach at Wikipedia.org
Obvious biggies to hit are Facebook
(college audiences); MySpace
(general and high school audiences); Linked In
(small business); Xanga
(city folk bloggers); Ryze
(business); BOOMj (+35 folks, boomers); Flikr
(photo sharing); CrowdAbout
4. Create pages on your chosen 3-4 social networking sites, and customize them so they match your blog presence consistently. Don't be overtly selly and do offer valuable content for free that will lead contacts into closer relationship with you. Use graphics where possible from your blog and testimonials.
5. Set up the blog that comes with your social networking page, and add content regularly. (It can be recycled from your standard blog, or even submitted at the same time.)
6. OPTIONAL Microblog on Twitter. Twitter is an instant microblogging site that answers the question, 'What are you doing?' In fact, you have 140 characters to tell us - and that information can get updated frequently ... which seems like a great way to keep indexed. These are short 'bite-sized' updates about your life that are too insignificant to share via, say, email. But these can be read on the Twitter site, mobile phones or even in instant messenger. It's fun!
7. OPTIONAL Recommend some favorite sites on StumbledUpon
8. Download Bloglines (a free blog reader) and begin reading 10 really niched blogs that speak to your audience. Get to know these folks, blog about what they are doing, comment where you can helpfully and sign off with your blog URL. Add these blogs to your 'blogroll' and network your heart out. The traffic will come back to find you. The same can be done with a podcast receiver, such as Juice
(for windows or Mac) and keep you networking within the podcast community.
9. Keep checking in on your social bookmarking and social networking sites periodically and remember to keep your blog content fresh. See what's happening, make sure your page is doing well, see who's dropping by, look involved ... better yet, be involved!
10. Keep up with your friend requests, invitations, messages daily - just put aside a bit of time each day to do it. And while you're at it, work the networks, and put out requests to like-minded folks in the network who appear to speak to your audience. If this is too much work, outsource to a high school or college student who is good at this. (Hint: they ALL are.)
11. Send out updates periodically to your friend list on your MySpace and other networking pages. Here's where you can finally pitch your products and services, sales, speeches, seminars and other events of note.
Do this .. and stay committed and regular about it ... and your indexing on Google is going to soar, right along with your blog traffic. You can bet I'll be doing these things - so join me!