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√ Use social media tracking tools to set up persistent searches for
keywords associated with your businesses. This will help you identify
your audience and determine who has the most influence.
√ Focus on relevant social websites to your company and audience.
These may include niche communities or such large networks as
Facebook and Twitter.
√ Follow people who follow you. These users have indicated that they
want a connection. However, be wary of following bots or spammers.
Use My Tweeple and Refollow to filter real people from fake accounts.
√ Use the tools inherent in your service or network to keep track of fol-
lower types. Facebook Filters and Twitter Lists let you concentrate on
one segment of your connections at a time.
√ Take control of your social media presence. For example, Yelp
offers business owners the chance to communicate with reviewers,
add photos and information to their listing, track visitors, and add
events as a means to engage customers.
√ Brainstorm creative ways to acknowledge followers and fans. Making
followers feel special increases the likelihood that they will remember
and mention you in other online media circles.
Social Networking Do's and Don'ts
Get More Online
TOP TWITTER APPS
Going to Twitter.com is so last year. Use
one of these apps on your phone or PC.
See p. 6 for more info on how to use this code with your cell phone.
Follow every person who mentions your company. If appropriate, start
a dialogue with the individual instead. Conversations and engagement
may lead to that person becoming a follower, but you don't want to
become a stalker.
"Monitor mentions of your competitors and go straight to those people
just to sell to them," says Heidi Sullivan, vice president of media
research, Cision blog. "You wouldn't walk into a cocktail party and just
hand out your business card to every single person, tell them what's
great about you, and then walk away."
Push the same message to all of your social networks. Determine
the language and vibe of the community, and tailor your messages
accordingly. Chrysta Wilson of Kiss My Bundt Bakery described Twitter
as "casual dating" and Facebook as a "committed relationship" at
Sidewalk LA's inaugural social media chat.
Concern yourself with the number of followers you have. It's more
important to have influential and active people talking about your
business on the web.
Limit your search to specific updates, tweets, and reviews that
come up in your search. Look for what people are sharing, retweet-
ing, liking, and promoting on their own to understand the shape of
Launch too many social media initiatives at once. Sullivan encour-
ages business owners to start by taking off small chunks: "Don't join
Twitter, launch a blog, start answering questions on LinkedIn, create a
social community, and start your own YouTube channel all at once if
you only have an hour or two per week to devote to this."
What about smaller companies? The owners of Emerson Salon in Se-
attle, Wash., successfully blend both online and offline social connections
with the company's website. Not only can customers book their appoint-
ments online, they can also access the salon's social media profiles on
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. A salon is only as good as its stylists, though.
So when visitors click on each employee's page they get a bio, pictures,
recent blog posts, and links to their individual social media profiles. These
personal connections not only entice new customers; they also create a
space where people can make real connections that begin---but don't
end---with a great haircut.
Think Small (or Smaller)
When putting together your social media strategy, don't focus exclusively
on the big, global social networks. Just as you'd search Facebook to find
group pages focused on the niche your business fits in, also look for specific
communities and networks around the web. "Everybody is about Twitter and
Facebook because that's for everyone," Sullivan says. However, she suggests
looking for networks, forums, and communities with a focus that relates to
Social networks have been created exclusively for pets (Fuzzster.com),
women (BlogHer.com; Kirtsy.com), gadget lovers (GDGT.com), and even tea
aficionados (hotfortea.ning.com). There's great value in these communities
for small businesses who can properly tap them. They allow you to make
connections with web surfers who are already passionate and engaged
about a topic, product, or location.
It's still a good idea to seek out communities within large and diverse social
sites. Companies are utilizing Etsy forums, Flickr pools, LinkedIn Q & As, Tumblr
blogs, and YouTube channels to interact with their audience.
Baby product manufacturer Graco figured out a way to engage its audience
beyond just using Facebook or Twitter. Parents can't get enough of childhood
pictures, so the company encourages customers to share images of their kids
via its blog and Flickr page, thus creating a community around their products.
Graco also coordinates meetups in the real world, and pictures from those
gatherings end up online, highlighting the real people who both build and
use the products.
At Emersonsalon.com customers and followers can book appoint-
ments, read staff bios and blog posts, and connect with stylists via
their social networking presences.
LAPTOP | September 2010
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