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Three Rock-Solid Questions for Social Media Success - 2/12/2013 -

Overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the latest social media advice? Simplify your 2013 strategy by considering just these three questions.

By Jay Baer

An almost infinite variety of minor circumstances can occupy your attention and create frustration for association publishers using social media. The pace of change is breathtaking, and the feedback loop is instantaneous. This creates a culture of disproportionate attention to detail. So much has been written about the mechanics of social media marketing in the past year that I fear weíre losing sight of the horizon.

Consider the analogy of sand and rocks. We tend to pay too much attention to sand, because it sticks between your toes and annoys you and is everywhere, and pay too little attention to rocks because theyíre big and heavy, and hard to move. As you get another year under way with optimistic expectations to take your social and content initiatives to new heights, recognize that rocks, not sand, will dictate whether youíll achieve your associationís objectives.

Make sure you can answer these three "rockĒ questions at all times in 2013. If you can, the sand will take care of itself.

1. How does social media make us money, and how can we prove that? The goal isnít to be good at social media; the goal is to be good at your associationís business because of social media. 2013 is the year of social optimization. Growth is slowing, and itís time to focus on making money, saving money, or both. It is essential that you have a defined social media strategic plan that supports real business objectives like member acquisition or member loyalty.

If youíre still using social connections (fans, followers) as a major proof-point of your efforts, stop. Take the time and make the effort to measure financial impact. Is it easy? Often, it is not. Is it doable? Yes. (Hereís a post on a 6-step process for measuring social media.)

2. Do we have adequate resources to succeed? Social media isnít inexpensive; itís just different expensive.Youíre better off having a more narrow social media marketing program and focusing on excelling in the venues in which you choose to participate. I recognize that isnít reality. Most organizations see a social network gaining traction and feel a gravitational pull that forces them to "be where our members areĒ and participate. That can spread your attention very thinódangerously so.

Customers and members increasingly expect real-time customer service via social media, and fees required to maximize your exposure on Facebook and elsewhere are only going to rise. On the labor side, in particular, 2013 is also the year where more and more organizations will decentralize social and make it a part of many peopleís jobs, instead of relying upon dedicated social media teams. Much more scalable that way, it recognizes the truth that all your employees are in marketing and customer service now, whether or not they want to be.

3. How are we segmenting our participation? If youíre doing the same stuff in every social network, why bother?

The tractor beam effect and social network expansion has turned the former Big Three of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into the Big Six of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google +/Google Communities. (Note that I donít list YouTube in either column because YouTube isnít really a social network; rather, it is a content platform like Slideshare or WordPress.)

How is your participation in Twitter different from your participation in Facebook? How does Instagram differ from Pinterest? If you donít have clear segmentation for the audiences, content, objectives, and metrics of each of your associationís social presences, you need to figure it out immediately. Realize that Facebook isnít a social networkóitís a social layer. The truth is that almost every person on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest or any other social network is also on Facebook. Thus, if youíre playing the same cards on Facebook that youíre playing elsewhere, you could be wasting time and money.

For each and every social network, you need to understand:

  • What audience you want to engage with;
  • Your content plan and editorial calendar;
  • Necessary resources; and
  • How youíll measure the success of that specific presence.

Three Business Words for 2013

Many people perform a "3 wordsĒ exercise (invented by Chris Brogan) to help them frame personal and business goals for the coming year. I suggest that for social media marketing, associations move beyond the sand and consider these three "rock" words to help guide your success: Strategy, Resources, and Segment.

Jay Baer is a social media strategist, author, speaker, and president of Convince & Convert.


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