50 Steps to Establishing a Consistent Social Media Practice.
By Chris Brogan.
Sunday, 3rd August 2008
You've told the boss that you're going to implement social media stuff for your organization, and in your mind, you've decided that means an account on Twitter and a blog.

Maybe there's a bit more to it than that. For instance, what are your goals? Are you there to show customers and prospective new customers that you care? Are you there to solve customer issues? Are you building awareness and attempting new forms of digital marketing? Knowing this up front makes a world of difference.

In the mean time, here are some things you might consider for when it comes time to implement. They range from ideas for starting out, things to augment your efforts with, writing ideas, next steps, and metrics. You're welcome to share this with others. Please link back to [chrisbrogan.com] and especially this post if you use it.

50 Steps to Establishing a Consistent Social Media Practice

  • If you're blogging, make that a home base for all your other efforts.
  • Re-read the "passports" section of this post and use it to think about your blog promotion efforts.
  • Pick 3 social networks to join based on where your customers might be. 3 might sound like too few, but it probably will be too many.
  • On those networks and on your "passport" accounts, make sure you link everything back to the blog.
  • Get a second (maybe even a 3rd) person in the company to build accounts on these places. Nice to have backups, in case you get busy.
  • Build an editorial calendar to think about your posting schedule and subject matter.
  • Subscribe to 50 or more blogs in a similar space as yours, including competitors, and any industry blogs.
  • On all your presence points, be human, and write a human-sounding profile. Use a human-seeming profile picture. (Did I mention "human?")
  • After you've written your first blog post, take some time to comment on some of those 50 blogs, but NOT about your first post.
  • Set up a few searches as explained in this post.
  • Make sure it's easy for people to subscribe to your blog, via a reader and also via email. (Nearly 50% of my blog subscribers are receiving [chrisbrogan.com] in email).
  • Run periodic checks of your blog/site using Website Grader to see if you're technically sound and findable.
  • Use tagging and other metadata to improve your blog's search features. Most newer blog software has this built in. If not, look for plugins.
  • For whatever reason, graphics in posts improve audience. Check out Flickr's Creative Commons pool for how to use which kinds of graphics appropriately.
  • Consider a nice clean theme for your blog's design. There are many free themes for different blogs, and some inexpensive ones like Thesis that are worth every penny.
  • Outside of your blog, be sure to update/refresh the information on your social networks every two or three weeks. USE the networks more often, but refresh your profiles and other info.
  • Seek out opportunities to guest post on more popular blogs in your space. Don't be spammy and over-link to your own site/posts. Add value.
  • On social networks, look for ways to contribute, even when it's not directly related to your company/product.
  • Continue building relationships outside of having a specific need. Don't ONLY try to build relationships with customers, for example.
  • Remember that social networks are a great place to look for hiring prospects, competitors, etc.
  • To create consistent content, read daily, and not just for your industry. Skim, synthesize, and post.
  • Use notepad files to jot post ideas down when you don't have a moment to write. Return frequently.
  • Riff off other blog posts you like, and add some value beyond linking back to those original posts (and always link back to those posts).
  • Go to the grocery store news stand and find popular magazines. Convert their story titles to blog post titles for your field. (Hat tip Brian Clark, who taught me this).
  • Skim news aggregator sites like Reddit or Digg (or what's appropriate to your industry), and create posts from there.
  • Ask your audience what they need, what they're struggling with.
  • Revisit a month of posts and see what you've covered the least.
  • Think about things your customers/stakeholders/prospects might need and write about that, even if it's a bit off-topic.
  • Check your stats to see what people are searching for, and address it.
  • Use these blog topics posts for inspiration. (Wow, I write on that a lot).
  • Look into creating additional materials like an ebook or online course from your best materials.
  • Branch out your blogging into video and audio where appropriate.
  • Look into building a community platform around your content platform.
  • Invite your audience in to guest post where appropriate.
  • Add social bookmarking plugins like Add This to your blog to improve distribution.
  • Look for cross-promotional opportunities for like-minded blogs in your space.
  • Consider starting groups on your social networks (such as a Facebook group) to further discuss the space you're covering.
  • Remember to comment on other people's blogs frequently, and show your participation in the communities where you have presence.
  • Occasionally produce PDF versions of your better posts and email them to customers and prospects to encourage growing your audience.
  • Consider a conversion engine like a free offer to help sort prospects from fans and audience.
  • Move towards measurements quickly, as these are often where companies decide their vote.
  • Create a simple report on how you will report what you're doing for upper management.
  • Work out which numbers might matter. Comments received. Links in. Times bookmarked?
  • Rank each blog post on effectiveness based on your own criteria. Review weekly and monthly.
  • Figure out a "downstream" metric that drives real business value. Reduce costs to call center? Sales leads?
  • Never count # of friends or # of followers as a valuable metric. It's quality in that case.
  • As soon as you can, find ways to tie your numbers to marketing and sales numbers where appropriate.
  • Move to automate the numbers collection parts early. Keep the sentiment reporting parts human.
  • Set 3 month goals to review progress with upper management. Determine if this is having any impact.
  • Though these last 10 tips are about numbers, NEVER treat people like numbers in social media.
Your mileage may vary, and some of this advice ranges from dead simple to over-simplified. It will also require some customization, depending on your industry, goals, and interests. But consider it a starting point.

What else would you add?

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters. www.ChrisBrogan.com

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