This is part of a new series titled “How I Work,” in which I’ll reveal the tools and practices I use on a regular basis. If you’re just getting started with inbound marketing, this will help you figure out “what” and “how.” If you’re an experienced inbound marketer, you might find a new tip or two or (even better) be able to contribute some of your own ideas.
This series about social media will cover a lot of ground. Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about:
- Where I play: Which social networks do I use and how do I use each one?
- Who I play with: How do I build and prune my audience?
- What I play: What do I share with my audiences?
- How I play: What are the tools that I use?
- When I play: When and how frequently do I post?
This week’s article covers Where to Play.
Before we jump into the tactics, let’s get oriented on strategy for just a minute. It’s important to keep in mind that social media is just one of the five steps for inbound marketing (promotion). And even at that, it’s not the entire step (paid promotion). So as we talk about sharing and curating, remember that it should all be done with a goal of driving people back to your website, which should be set up to be a lead generating machine.
Where to Play
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After joining Twitter in 2008, my policy has been to sign up for absolutely every social network that pops up. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily use those accounts, but I want to at least reserve the user names. Here’s a list of the social networks I use most frequently and why I use them:
In my opinion, Twitter is still the king of social media. I don’t always recommend it to my clients but when I don’t, it’s usually because the learning curve and inertia of the organization is to big and heavy. It’s not usually because I don’t think it would be worth it. My most valuable social media channel – hands down – is Twitter. But that’s because I’ve been building and pruning an audience for 5 years. It doesn’t happen over night.
I use Twitter for three purposes. The first is to “spread inbound marketing goodness,” which in my mind means curating stories that other inbound marketing enthusiasts will find interesting. To do this, I need a constant stream of raw material and my source for that is my RSS reader. I scan hundreds or thousands of articles every day on various topics, then share the ones I think will be most interesting to my audience. In the “How I Play” article, I’ll describe exactly how this works. Obviously, I also share my own content on Twitter. I’ll cover that in “What I Play.”
The second purpose for Twitter is to Engage with people. For people who don’t understand Twitter, this is probably the most underrated super-power. It’s incredibly (and surprisingly) easy to get into Twitter conversations with highly influential folks in your industry on Twitter. I’ve had conversations with and retweets from the likes of Guy Kawasaki, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuck, Garr Reynolds and others. It’s a great tool for initiating relationships and also keeping them warm.
The third purpose for Twitter is real time news. When a plane crash lands in the Hudson river or a bomb goes off during a marathon, Twitter is the first place I turn. Admittedly, there is a lot of misinformation that comes out so you need to be careful but I find that the first hand accounts come swiftly and compellingly. On a lighter note, I also find it very entertaining during certain live entertainment events (I have an unhealthy addiction to American Football).
When you talk about Facebook, you need to split the conversation into two streams; your personal Facebook account and Pages. According to the terms of service (TOS) for Facebook, each person is allowed one and only one Facebook account. I know many people who create one account for friends and family and another for work and colleagues. The risk in doing this may be very small, but be aware that this is technically a violation of the TOS and Facebook could delete both of your accounts.
The question regarding how to use your account is a personal one. Some people are deeply private and only want to friend family members and close friends. That’s fine. Others will friend anybody and everybody they can with a “more is better” philosophy. Depending upon how you use Facebook, that can be OK too. But if you’re going to friend people you don’t know very well (or at all) you need to be extremely careful about sharing your location data and whereabouts. Criminals are using this information to figure out when people are on vacation and burglarizing homes.
I play my personal Facebook account somewhere in the middle. I will friend people that I know personally or are trusted friends of my friends. I do connect with work colleagues and that means that I need to be careful about what I post. I’ll cover this in more detail in the subsequent “What I Play” article.
Of course, I also have my Domesticating IT fan page. I treat this similarly to Twitter, in that it’s a place where I curate inbound marketing content. However, the volume is much lower and has a higher standard. I tend to share 3 to 5 content items per week on Facebook right now.
LinkedIn (JonDiPietro and Domesticating IT)
Like Facebook, there are two discussions with regard to LinkedIn; personal accounts and company pages. This is probably the most straightforward and well understood network. However, I think it is also the most underutilized. Too many professionals I know say that they “get nothing” from LinkedIn. When I ask them, “When was the last time you logged into LinkedIn” their answer is usually measured in months. LinkedIn is not a resume repository. It is a social network, which means it helps if you’re socially engaged. Log in every day and check status updates. Post status updates about yourself and share news about your industry. Endorse people for skills. Write recommendations. Participate in groups. These are all activities that raise your profile and expand your network, potentially uncovering new opportunities for you. Think of it like a fitness program. Exercise is the key to health and vitality.
Company pages have come a long way and now are very similar to Facebook fan pages. LinkedIn members can follow your company and you can post status updates now, too. I’ve recently started paying much more attention to my company page and updated the services and now I am mindful to post all of my blog articles there as well.
Google Plus (JonDiPietro and Domesticating IT)
I’ll be very blunt: I view Google+ as a necessary evil. I don’t like the interface. I feel the content is redundant – I find very little there that isn’t already in my Twitter stream or RSS feed. It’s isolated in that I can’t integrate any of my third party tools with it (Hootsuite, Buffer, IFTT, etc.). It’s simply another place I have to burn up time without a tremendous amount of return.
But it’s necessary. Why? Because of Google Author Rank. Google is forcing users to pay attention to Google+ and using it as infrastructure to assess rankings of content producers on the web. In other words, they’re not just indexing the content but also the authors of that content. An author’s influence affects the content’s rankings. And so, for the moment at least, I pay essentially the minimum amount of attention necessary to Google+.
And for the third time in a row, I have to mention the fact that there are both personal and business pages to consider on Google+. The interesting thing here is that Google has opened up the API for business pages but not personal accounts. This means that I can share content to my business page through tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. But it’s still a pain in my neck.
Slideshare (Domesticating IT)
Out of all of these social networks, if you’re not using Slideshare then that’s probably going to get you the most immediate bang for your buck! This is a social network that allows you to upload and embed presentations. You can also add audio voice-overs to create “slidecasts” and (with a paid Pro membership) even embed lead collection forms. This is an extremely powerful way to spread your brand awareness and generate traffic back to your website. In the past 12 months, I’ve had over 5,000 views of presentations I’ve uploaded on this one account (I also have a personal Slideshare account and another for #CareerGravity).
Pinterest (Domesticating IT)
This newcomer is seriously underrated! I use Pinterest to share interesting, informative and humorous images that appear on my blog. It’s a great way to leverage your content and also drive traffic through a visual medium.
At this point, you should probably be shouting, “What about YouTube?!” You’d be right. I don’t use it and that’s not a good thing. At all. Video marketing is incredibly powerful and something that has been on my roadmap for too long now. I do have plans to fix this admittedly gaping hole in my own inbound marketing strategy.
There are many other social networks I use (Tumblr, GetGlue, Instagram) but they are more personally focused and I don’t really leverage them for inbound marketing purposes.
Next Week: Who I Play With
Next week I will continue this series by discussing how I build and prune my audiences on each of these social media networks. If you’re not already, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter – The Inbound Marketing Inquirer – to get the entire series delivered to your inbox.
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