By Rachel Neppes, BERKMAN

Social media, which utilizes various web publishing tools and social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to communicate and interact with key audiences, has become a vital part of the marketing mix. What makes social media different than other types of communication is its ability to not only put out information to the public, but to actively engage with your target audiences (key customers, partners, influencers, etc.)

However, while social media is important, many people don’t know where to begin when it comes to building a successful social media campaign. Therefore, below are some helpful steps for getting started.

Step 1: Do your Research

Prior to launching your campaign, it’s important to do your research in order to best ensure the success of your campaign. Research suggestions are as follows:

  • Examine the social media successes and failures of other similar campaigns
  • Get to know online opinion makers/thought leaders in your industry
  • Identify relevant blogs, newsgroups, forums etc. to monitor and engage
  • Identify and address current events/issues/news relating to your company or product
  • Find out what customers are saying about your company/brand

Step 2: Develop an Actionable Campaign Strategy

A strategic plan is essential to the success of your social media campaign.  When developing your social media plan, consider the following:

  • What are the goals of your campaign?
    • Increase brand awareness
    • Learn more about your target audience
    • Educate and inform customers
    • Improve customer service
    • Monitor company/brand reputation
    • Promote products and services
  • Determine your key messages and how to ensure that your messages are consistently delivered throughout your social  media outreach
  • How will you build a community of active followers?
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Blogs
    • You Tube
    • Linked In
  • Establish effective methods for tracking results

Step 3: Create an Effective Social Media Personality/Presence

To position yourself, your business, products, services, etc. effectively through social media, it is important to create a presence or personality that best positions you as the expert/authority in your particular space, areas of interest. This should be done by:

  • Creating your own blog spot, whereby you and other members of your team are posting fresh and relevant content at least once a week to keep it current
  • Building a presence on social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, whereby you are actively involved in sharing information with members of your community. You can easily create your own Facebook Fan Page or Group, for instance.
  • Creating a customized Twitter Profile that brands you or your business as a particular expert/thought leader in a particular knowledge area.

Step 4: Engage your Audiences

Once you have created a presence for yourself or your business, you need to quickly begin engaging your audiences and generating participation in your online conversations. Tips for engaging your target audiences include the following.

  • Develop timely and relevant content as often as possible (keep the frequency to at least once per week) 
  • Get involved in the conversation – encourage feedback and commentary from users by responding to their blog comments
  • Use Twitter as often as possible to tweet and re-tweet interesting content or industry related news
  • Listen and understand your target audience, their opinions, desires etc. – address their needs and interests specifically
  • Make it fun by orchestrating special contests, Trivia games, etc.

Step 5: Don’t Implement a Social Media Campaign Alone

Realize that there are outside resources to assist you in your social media efforts. Seek the guidance of professional consultants and firms, such as BERKMAN, to ensure the success of your social media campaign. You can also find a wealth of information on the Internet to guide you. A few great places to start include: ClickZ.com, Mashable.com and SmartBlog on Social Media.

Interested in learning more about how to leverage social media to grow your business? Contact BERKMAN to schedule a consultation and follow us on Twitter!

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