quick start social media guide

Task #1: Learn to Sift Through the Noise

The biggest roadblock for social media newbies is the tremendous amount of information already out in the ether about social media. You learn immediately that the key to social media mastery is sifting through all the noise — both in terms of what you need to be more productive and reach more eyeballs with your brand, but also in how you decide to use your time. We’ve assembled this Quick Start Social Guide to Social Media to help you get started.

It’s oh so very tempting to jump from shiny object to shiny object in social media, but you’ll achieve the best ROI if you master one task at a time. Track the time you spend and what you think you gain from that time religiously. We have weekly meetings with all our new clients to track initial progress, goals and training and adjust the strategy often until our team finds the right rhythm and balance. If you are new to social media, keep a task or research list and spend time once a week on a new skill. Don’t get overwhelmed with the noise, it only gets worse!

Task #2: Set up a Routine!

Nothing derails a day, a schedule or your best efforts to learn social media than getting distracted or overwhelmed. Set up a simple routine. We recommend starting with 10 minutes (with a timer) in the morning and evening. No more. Wait until you see ROI to increase your time, and keep a strict plan as you go. If you need to, turn off your Facebook or Twitter alerts so you aren’t tempted to respond to each beep instantly. Here are more tips on minimizing the distractions.

Task #3: Ask If You Need Tools

When something seems too involved, complicated or drawn out in social media, we guarantee that someone has developed a tool to make it easier. Send us an email and we can suggest a tool (or two or three) that will solve your problem. We can help you set up an interest list on Facebook to make it easier to follow the 10 key people in your industry or a list of competitors. We can suggest a few CEOs to follow on Twitter or help you find a metrics tool that makes sense to you. Don’t struggle and get discouraged or overwhelmed — ask for help.

Task #4: Get Expert Advice (for Free)

All of the links we included in this article are from sites and influencers we respect. Add them to your reader (Feed.ly is a good replacement for Google Reader) and browse them at least once a week  — you’ll soon have more than a mediocre social media education. This list of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers is a good place to start.

Task #5: What do Your Customers REALLY Think About Your Brand?

So, people are talking about you left and right on Facebook and Twitter and you’re busy keeping up with posting and writing and responding. But, what do they really think? How can you tell? It might be time to investigate an automated sentiment analysis tool, or get some metrics tools.

Task #6: Learn to Inspire Customer Loyalty – Community!

Whether you think her antics are publicity stunts or pure genius, there’s no doubt Lady Gaga has loyal fans. How does she do it? How can your brand apply these principles to your products and brand? It’s all about community. We like to say that you’re building a church from the ground up. Don’t be afraid to ask your community how you can improve and implement those changes.

Task #7: Stay on Task

Successful social media is applying the building blocks toward a strategic goal. You’re building a castle, one giant block at a time. Resist jumping into a complicated campaign that promises fantastic results if you can’t manage the basics of social customer service. Build a foundation for your SEO before buying Ad Words.

Task #8: Strategy Strategy Strategy

Just like buying a house is all about location location location, successful social media is 100% strategy. Knowing where you want to be in a year allows you to work backwards and take it one block at a time. We use six-month editorial calendars to map out the overall strategy and content development, you can find an organizational tool that works for you. Use it like a trusted road map and don’t be afraid to adjust it often.

Task #9: Plan Ahead

What happens if you have a product recall or post something that your community takes the wrong way? Plan for and embrace crisis management. Practice your crisis plan and train the organization as a whole to respond quickly. If you’ve built an engaged and loyal community, they will rally around your brand during a crisis if you respond correctly.

Task #10: Test, Adjust, and Keep Testing

Don’t rest on your success. Social media changes overnight and what worked for you yesterday can fall flat today. Find something that works and actively plan to take it to the next level. Keep moving. Facebook is notorious for implementing changes without notice and online communities are easily bored. Test new ideas. Try new methods to increase engagement.

Shampoo, Rinse and Repeat

Go back to Task #1 and assess ROI. Refine your routine. Find new experts. You get the idea. Social media is like golf or martial arts, you never have it mastered. If you think you’re an expert, it’s time to go back to the very first step because any true expert will tell you there is no such thing as a social media expert. Social media is a lifelong quest for better quality, more engagement and higher ROI. And, any brand can master it!

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