Go to the conversation
Getting involved in social media can be a daunting task for some. Many companies think they need to build a forum, a blog or some form of discussion area on their site in order to be engaged. They don’t want to go to the expense and hassle of adding on to their website to get started, so they don’t get involved, and that’s a shame. There are so many low cost yet effective ways to get your feet wet and then decide if social media participation makes a difference in your marketing campaign.
I’m talking beyond Twitter, FaceBook and networking sites here. All are excellent ways to engage, but for the moment let’s just talk about on-line communities, forums and blogs.
You don’t have to host your own discussion
Having it on your site is preferable, but if you just want to dip your toe in, there are plenty of places out there where the discussion is going on right now. All you have to do is find them. Do a search for forums or blogs that are already talking about what you do. Set up some Google Alerts and find out where people are talking. It’s a great way to stay on top of your niche even if you don’t sauy anything, but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you join in. You can build your reputation in comments and discussion and people will find you through your participation. A link in your profile or occasional links back to your website helps bring people to your site for more information, or better yet to contact you directly.
Make your comments helpful and show your expertise. Don’t use it as a way to just build links to your site, think of it as networking on-line. You wouldn’t go around a networking meeting ignoring everybody and trumpeting how great you are would you? Well, maybe some do, but what do you think of those people once they get you cornered? Spend a little time on the community site
Part of my role as a social media coach is to help people find the conversation and show them how to get involved effectively. Every morning I look over my reports and alerts from the night before and see what’s new. I track subjects clients are interested in and send them a heads-up on discussions that merit weighing in on. It’s an efficient way for them to get involved on a personal level but without the hassle of having to sort through a lot of noise to get there.
Why not just let the bots do it?
This goes beyond Google and alerts from the various feed bots. As great as they are, it’s still helpful to have a human filter through the chaff and get to the good stuff. I also track particular authors and filter out posts or discussions that have already been addressed or ones that may be getting hot and need a re-visit, or suggest people to follow on Twitter or FriendFeed.
You don’t have to pay somebody to do this
You can do it yourself through some of the sites I listed in Tracking your Brand Online. Set up alerts and get the reports, then schedule some time in your day to scan them. You’ll quickly get a better picture of where people are talking about you, what their feelings are about you, your company or your product and you can get in the conversation.