I’m on a panel tomorrow night at SMC Seattle. I’ll be talking super-specifics about using social media as a business. So, I’ve been doing a ton of thinking on how social media really works for small-medium businesses. I’ve tried to boil down the steps involved, and ended up with this cycle:
- Selection: You figure out where you’re going to go to find your audience. Twitter? Facebook? Reddit?
- Creative: First, someone’s gotta write, photograph and otherwise create stuff that’ll attract attention. This can mean a set of blog posts, or something else.
- Outreach: Then you use the creative to draw in and grow your audience. The bigger your audience, the more chances of success in the next step, assuming that you’ve attracted a quality audience. If you use an auto-follower to spam 40,000 people, you’ll fail.
- Offer: Then you make your pitch to that audience. I don’t mean a literal sales pitch – nothing turns off an audience faster. Instead, reward them for being your audience. Give them an exclusive 10% off coupon if they join your fan page on Facebook. ‘Leak’ special info to them before it goes public. Even saying ‘thanks’ can work. It all depends on your audience.
- Observe and respond: When you make that offer, that’s not the end of the cycle. Some folks will jump on the offer. Others will have questions or comments. Respond to them. Even if they’re just saying “You rock!” Tell them ‘thanks’. Whether this is on your blog, on Twitter or somewhere else, always respond.
- Measure as best you can, of course, and learn from what you see.
That cycle repeats monthly or daily (sometimes hourly) in social media. It’s very fast. And it’s one that can often happen out of order. But the steps remain the same.
The best thing you can do is have a very loose plan in place that allows for workload and workflow. Then you move through these steps and adjust constantly.
What you can’t do is set a six-month plan in stone. Your customers aren’t statues.
So, what steps would you add or subtract from this? Leave comments, as always, below.