by John Eberhard

I have written several articles recently on social media marketing and this article will summarize the most vital points from those articles.

Adding Friends

Before I summarize the past articles, here is a bit of new. If you want to use social media sites to market your business, you have to have a lot of friends (Facebook), followers (Twitter), and connections (LinkedIn). Because if you want to put out messages promoting your business on social media, you need to have those messages seen by a lot of people, otherwise it won’t do any good.

So you have to develop a strategy of adding friends/followers/connections on a regular basis. It works best to do this a little bit every day, or at least 4-5 days per week, rather than trying to do a whole lot at once. The reason for this is that each of the sites has a concept of what they consider an acceptable level of friending activity, and if you exceed that in a short period of time, they will either shut down your account temporarily or permanently.

Facebook allows a max of 5,000 friends, but there is no limit to the number of fans for a fan page. I use software to add followers for Twitter and have gotten my own account up to near 10,000 and two other accounts over 2,000 followers.

Social Media Outflow Strategy

What type of communications should you put out in your own status updates, i.e. the communications that go out to all your social media connections?

You should set up an account on www.Ping.fm and connect up all your social media accounts to it. That way when you post something on Ping.fm, it goes out to all your social media accounts.

But back to what you should say. Here are some tips.

1. I have had a successful strategy with regard to my business, whereby I post messages saying what I am working on at the time, such as “I am setting up a new Google AdWords account for a client,” or “I am designing a new web site for a veterinarian,” or “I am adding more Twitter followers for a client.” What this does is create good “top of mind awareness.” That’s where when someone thinks of an Internet marketing consultant, I’m one of the guys they think of.

2. Every time you post new content on your blog, you should put out a status update saying “See my new blog post,” then the name of your article, then a link to it. Since the number of characters you get on Twitter (and Ping.fm) is only 140, it makes sense to use a URL shortener for the address of the article.

3. If your company puts up a new video on YouTube, post an update about it with a link to the video.

4. If you publish a press release on your web site or blog, post an update about this with a link to it.

5. I have one client where I put together client testimonials for him and post them on his web site. Every time one of these goes up, I post a status update about it to his social media accounts.

6. If your company releases any type of special report or white paper related to a topic within your industry, post a link to it.

7. You can post a link to some interesting article or video you found relating to your industry.

8. Whenever you have an event coming up, like a seminar, class, speech, webinar, or appearance at a trade show, post something announcing it.

9. If you are having a sale or special, you should definitely post about it, possibly several times.

10. Avoid making every single status update a pitch for your business. While you should post about all your seminars, classes, speeches, webinars, or trade show appearances, if all you ever post are pitches for your promotional actions, it could cause people to tune you out or even hide your posts or unfriend you. I think it is helpful to throw in some personal stuff, like a trip you’re taking, or a sports event or concert you attended.

It is definitely a good idea to post status updates to your social media accounts frequently. It all comes under the heading of creating top of mind awareness. Using these tips you can increase your posting frequency.

Social Media Engagement

There is another important point that is vital in effectively using social media sites to market. That is your amount of engagement with others on social media sites. By engagement in this case I mean “interacting back and forth with people on the social media sites.”

The idea is that you are not just outflowing information or messages to your friends, followers or connections. You should be viewing what other people are doing or saying and interacting with them about it.

I was talking to a friend about this recently and I could tell he thought it would be a daunting task, i.e. that it would take him too much time. But I think it is important if you want to get much benefit from social media sites, and I don’t think it has to take a lot of time. Here are some examples:

1. On Facebook, click on “Home,” then at the top click on “Most Recent.” This brings up a feed of things that your Facebook friends have posted, including short blurbs about what they are doing, comments on things, links to articles elsewhere on the web, pictures they have uploaded, or links to videos on YouTube. Quickly scroll through this feed to look for things that interest you. If someone has posted a blurb or comment that you agree with, click the “Like” button underneath that post. Or post a short comment on it yourself.

2. On Facebook, in the upper right area of the page is a list of your Facebook friends for whom today is their birthday. Review this list and for anyone who is a real life friend, click through to their page and where it says “Write something,” write a quick “Happy birthday Joe” message.

3. On Facebook there are groups or fan pages you can find about areas of interest or about your industry. Click “like” on some of these groups and follow or join in the discussions that appear on their fan pages.

4. Facebook has its own email system. Read any Facebook email you get and reply to it.

5. On Twitter, you can spend a few minutes following the posts of other people that you are following, then “re-tweet” the ones you like (that means to send that particular post again out to all of your followers).

6. Set up folders in your email program and set up mail rules that will dump all Facebook emails into a folder for Facebook and all Twitter emails into a folder for Twitter. That way they do not clutter up your main inbox and you can handle those emails when you have time.

7. On Twitter, you will receive emails that say “Direct message from Joe Jones.” Unfortunately a lot of these will be automatically generated messages that others send out whenever someone follows them, most saying “Thanks for following me. Look forward to reading your messages.” The auto direct message is an unfortunate thing you have to put up with. But be on the lookout for any direct messages from others who are actually communicating to you. Reply to them.

8. One thing you can do on Twitter is do a search for your company name or brand, and see what people are saying about you. Then respond to them or re-tweet their stuff if it is positive. If it’s negative, it gives you a chance to monitor any problems and respond to them.

The web, and especially social media sites, are all about interaction, a conversation, back and forth. In the days before the web and social media, most companies were used to putting out communications that their public or consumers would receive. The public could write them a letter but most people never did that.

Measuring Your Success

I was recently thinking about how you should measure your success with social media. I found an excellent article on this called “3 Key Metrics To Measure Social Media Success” by Clay McDaniel on SearchEngineWatch.com. I’ll explain and simplify what he is saying, plus add some additional ways of my own to measure social media success. Here are McDaniel’s 3 key metrics:

1. Total Online Community Size: Add up your total Facebook fans of your fan page and/or friends for your profile, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, YouTube channel subscribers, and blog unique users.

In my opinion this is one of the most important metrics in terms of how well you are doing, because it gives the total number of people you can reach with your social media communications.

2. Monthly Referred Traffic to Site: Go into Google Analytics and see how many total people came to your site, referred from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

If you are posting status updates on your social media accounts that link back to your site or mention things you are doing, this should be generating traffic, i.e. people clicking on the link and coming to your site.

3. Social Monthly Impressions: This is the number of times someone mentions your company or brand on social media sites. You can set up a Google Alert to measure this.

Here are some additional ways of my own to measure what is going on with social media:

4. Status Updates Out Monthly: This is a total of how many times you sent out a business related status update to all your social media accounts. I think this should be tracked because it is one of the main things you are doing that will affect how people respond.

5. Blog Posts Monthly: This is the number of posts you are putting out on your blog or blogs. As mentioned in earlier articles the ideal frequency of this is once a week or more.

Good luck with your social media marketing.