Tools to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Question 7 from 10 Essential Questions for your Social Media Marketing Campaign: ” What tools are available to make my time in SMM more efficient?” can be answered in different ways.

There are tools and then there are tools. Every day there are thousands (yes thousands) of blog entries and tweets about all the wonderful tools available to help you leverage your Social Media Marketing time to maximum advantage.

This isn’t another one of those messages. Instead, let me tell you about two that I use and point you in the direction of finding others.

The tool that I use to tie things together is Friendfeed. Friendfeed lets you tie your various social media accounts together in such a way that you can post once to one account and the post will automatically be updated across all your accounts.  What does “all your accounts” mean? Friendfeed can talk to your blog, to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to name a few. If you use pictures, it can talk to Flickr and to Picasa. If you are into bookmarking and news, it will talk to delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Google Reader. In fact, there are currently 58 different sites that can be tied together through Friendfeed.

That sounds a bit overwhelming.  It doesn’t need to though. You can start with just a couple and still save time by using Friendfeed. Then when you’re ready to add, you can do so and tie them into Friendfeed as you add them to your repertoire.

The second tool I use and like is TweetDeck. While it sounds like it is just a Twitter application, it actually ties into Facebook and MySpace as well, allowing you to post once but push it to all those accounts. I only use it with Twitter but even then it helps. I have a personal account and a corporate account and I can post to either or both at the same time through TweetDeck.

The power of TweetDeck comes from being able to create groups. I follow more than 1400 people but it works its power even if you follow a handful. For example, you can create a group called “My Industry” and add the people from your industry into that group. You can create a group called “Customers” and add your customers to that group. And so on. The simplicity of that makes life easier and will likely encourage you to follow more people because the flow of Tweets becomes more manageable.

What else is there?

Here are just a few links I found:

42+ Social Media Marketing Tools

4 tools for easier social media management

35+ Social Media Tools That Make Life Easier


Finding a Niche for Your Social Media Marketing

What niche social networking sites might be useful for my goals?

Question 6 from 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign brings some interesting insights that you might not have contemplated. Everyone knows about the big sites:

But what about the little sites (or even not so little sites) that might be tailored to your needs?

Authors, for example, should take another look at Amazon and see how they can use their author account to generate more buzz around their book right on THE site for book selling.

Other sites that you might find useful (not as big as the ones above but still pretty well known) include:

Each of these sites has its own orientation and purpose. For example, is designed so you can share your movie review with friends. Depending on your business and what you are trying to accomplish, this could be a great way to connect with customers or vendors and share information.


Developing a Tactical Approach to Social Media Marketing

What tactics will help me accomplish my goals?

The 5th Question in our 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign sounds pretty straightforward. Because it is. And yet how many of us dive in without thinking of how we want to get where we’re going?

Let’s say your goal is to drive more people to your site where they can learn about your incredible service offering. What tactics will help?

Provide links that make people think. For example, I might post on Twitter and Facebook a link like this for a site we are launching: “Yellow page advertising not working anymore? What’s the next step?” Curious aren’t you? That’s the goal. Make people curious enough to click through.  A network customer of ours, Denver Tux, might post something like “Guys, worried about what to wear to prom?”. Think about how you might do this for your business.

What if you’re selling a product? Tactics might include:

  • Post a video showing the product being used or installed to YouTube or Facebook.
  • Create a slideshow demonstrating how to use the product and upload it to
  • Creating a Facebook fan page for just one popular product and inviting people to become fans.
  • Developing a routine so that every nth (9th or 5th or whatever seems right) post to your social media accounts is showing a different feature of your product.

Without developing your tactics beforehand though, you might find yourself adrift as you go from site to site trying out different things.


Leveraging Your Physical Network in Social Media Marketing

How can I leverage my physical network to help in Social Media Marketing?

The 4th Question in our 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is a bit counter-intuitive in that we leave the cyber world for a bit. In your business or in your life you know people. Whether you’ve thought of them as your network or not, they are.

Now it is time to look at this network of business colleagues and friends and see how they can help you in your social media marketing. There are three easy ways you can leverage them without losing a friendship:

  1. Invite them to join your fan (company) page on Facebook.  By getting them to join you quickly appear bigger and when they join, each friends’ network will also be notified so you have the opportunity to connect with even more people. Having fans on Facebook is very much akin to having subscribers to your email list: they give you one more opportunity to get the word out.
  2. Follow them on Twitter. Most folks will follow you back. When I see a friend or colleague retweeting someone I’m not associated with, I’ll often check out their profile and end up following them. This gives you the opportunity again to be in front of more people. The next time you tweet about a special or event related to your business, more people will hear about it. Just make sure you return the favor by following your friends’ friends.
  3. On LinkedIn you can join the same groups. I connect with lots of folks on LinkedIn through shared groups and a natural group for me to belong to online is the same one I belong to offline: the West Chamber serving Jefferson County. I can see who else is in this group and if I know one of my connections that is a chamber member but not on the LinkedIn group, I reach out to them and encourage them to join. By helping them in the cyber world, I further cement our relationship in the physical world.

So as you enter into the Social Media Marketing world, don’t neglect your physical relationships and especially don’t neglect leveraging those relationships to take you further faster.


Social Media Marketing: How Much Time Does it Take?

The third question in our 10 Essential Questions to Answer for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign series is “How much time am I able or willing to spend on marketing?”

The best answer I can give to that question is to use the swim teacher / coach analogy. “Coach, how long is it going to take?” you might ask. If you are nine years old and taking swimming lessons, three hours a week will probably be more than sufficient for you to learn the basics of swimming and put them into practice. If you are Michael Phelps however, the answer might be closer to 10 hours a day.

Basically the answer to this question depends on your answer to question #1. If your goal is to make a lot of money online, you will spend considerably more time than if your goal is to sell five books a month through your web site. Having said that, there are FOUR rules to keep your time productive:

  1. Plan to spend more time up front to set up your account, learn the ropes, and build out your network.
  2. When setting up your profile in Facebook or LinkedIn, create a separate document (in something like MS Word) to keep track of the different parts of your profile. This will save time when entering into new networks.
  3. Log in at least THREE times a week to update your status and add new connections.
  4. Keep your goals in front of you as you engage. There are some very interesting but non-productive facets to these networks that can draw you in unless you stay focused on why you’re doing it in the first place.

Use these rules and stick with it. Those who engage in Social Media Marketing usually end up spending more time on it (not less) as they go because of the benefits.


Finding the Best Social Media Sites

What media (or sites) are best suited to my goal?

Once you have determined what your goals are, it is time to determine which social networking sites will best help you meet those goals. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites available to you. Outside of three or four though, they all are designed to serve specific niches. The major sites that are available are:

Facebook: Until recently we recommended Facebook primarily as a Business to Consumer web site for Social Media Marketing purposes. No longer. You can create your own “Page” for your business and invite your connections to become “Fans”. When they become a fan, it appears on their profile which can get others to join and so on. Once established, you have the ability to interact with your fans, through posts to the page, events, importing your blog feed, and starting discussions.

Facebook can also be very good if your business targets consumers. One colleague who runs a travel company simply posted on his account about an upcoming overseas trip and got several new customers. The power of searching and matching makes Facebook powerful indeed. The matching comes in when Facebook suggests people you might know or other things you might like. As a business, you can target that matching by the kinds of content you write about. You can also try the Facebook Ads to target consumers.

LinkedIn: This site is definitely a business to business web site. If your goal is hiring people, LinkedIn could be a very good resource. It can also be a great way to connect with people in your industry or market so if your goal is to stay abreast of trends and innovations in your market, LinkedIn could be a good fit. We have found LinkedIn to be a very good way to stay on top of trends but also to connect with potential clients and with power partners. If extending your network beyond your physical reach is a goal, then this would be a good way to attack it. Basically, LinkedIn is an ideal social media site if your target is other businesses. It might also be within your goal if you need ot interact with others in your market segment.

Twitter: Twitter is still just a baby but is growing quickly. As such it is difficult to have long term goals for what you want to accomplish via this site. Having said that, we recommend it for both B2B and B2C purposes. If your goal is to get more exposure and learn of the latest trends it can be very helpful. If even 1/10 of the folks who claim they’re making millions on Twitter are close to the truth, it can fit into a goal of increasing sales to consumers as well as reaching out to businesses and consultants that need your goods or services.

What other sites should you consider? Do a search for social networking websites and you’ll find plenty of places to start but some other large ones include Plaxo, MySpace, Meetup and Ning. Another class of social media is social bookmarking. Sites to consider for bookmarking are StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Technorati.

You can just jump in to Social Media Marketing but if you first determine your goals and then determine which sites will help you reach those goals, you will be more successful.


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