social media communities have been around long enough to have a first generation in their wake, so it would seem we’ve all had enough time to learn their ins & outs. while many of us have mastered the art of staying in touch, i’m seeing a common thread among clients and colleagues alike: many of them are spending more time creating content and cross-linking these communities to each other than whipping them into the marketing strategy they came for in the first place.
sharing content online is all kinds of fun, and a great way to raise awareness, but using it for marketing should always be part of a bigger plan to connect back to the content you create on your own site. if you’re spending all your time creating awareness on social networks without consistently linking back to your home base, you’re working for them—for free. that’s not what you got into business for! but hey, it’s okay — you can turn the tables anytime and start making them work for you.
best practice vs. a common example
marketing in the social media arena should be an all-roads-lead-to-rome strategy by the most direct route possible. think of it like a multiple funnel system, where each funnel is a social community designed around a unique aspect of how people like to communicate. creating awareness about your business or projects is as simple as participating in the communities that suit you best, and periodically saying “hey guys, i’m doing something cool, come take a look” with a link to the most relevant landing page on your site. participation and link strategy should look like this:
however, that’s not always the case. what i often see when i analyze a social media campaign in need of help is that some link strategies are sending users to 2 or 3 different communities to get piecemeal information, with links to the main site infrequent at best. the mistake here isn’t just that you never get eyeballs on your site, it’s can also be a turn-off to your audiences too. each of them have made a conscious choice about the community they prefer, and would be a lot more likely to check out your site than trek around to communities they don’t like. here’s what i generally find when social media marketing is a bit scattered:
lots of effort going everywhere but home
sites like facebook have so many tools to keep you busy creating content [for them] that it’s easy to spend all your time building photo albums and posting informative updates while forgetting to promote your own site. in their desire to compete, social networks provide apps for automatically updating other communities, which is really just traffic-poaching disguised as a convenience tool, giving you crappy-looking updates in the process. [ever seen a truncated facebook post & link on twitter? do your twitter followers even care about facebook anymore?] or sometimes, it’s just easier to think “but all my videos are on youtube, why not just send traffic there?” youtube subscribers may be a secondary benefit of hosting videos there, but the videos should be embedded and showcased on a relevant site page of your own.
don’t send your audience on a wild goose chase for your content. first thing’s first. put the time in on your own site or blog to make sure anything anyone would want to know about you or your business is easy to find. create the content you want to share there, around one main idea at a time, and then report on it in each social media community with a direct link back to your blog post, or relevant pages on your site.
put yourself first
the first place to generate content is on your own site. if you need to make regular announcements or have new and changing content you want to talk about and you don’t have a place on your site where you can do this, it’s time to get one [hint: i can help]. consider adding a blog where you can update revolving content. make your full announcement here first, with complete information and photos or videos, when applicable. this is what you’ll be linking to everywhere else.
the philosophy here is that you’re training people to learn that your site is where it’s at for any information they’d ever want to know about you. sure, they’ll catch your posts on twitter, facebook & tumblr, but after 3-5 times of clicking through to your site, they’ll make the connection that they can always find what they need on your site. and hey—people who don’t use ANY social media will be able to find it there too, imagine that!
choose your communities and let them know
write custom posts for each community, tailored to how each one showcases information best. i understand the temptation to save time by writing one great post in one place and let that service distribute it for you, but these distributed posts rarely look good elsewhere. often, they take your snappy teaser copy and truncate it to nonsense, replacing half of your sentence and any photo with a generic link [so they can advertise their great service to another sucker]. if you truly believe you don’t have time to write one sentence for each community you’re in, get honest about which ones are a priority. a half-sentence tweet that only links to facebook says loud and clear: “i don’t care about twitter.” keep your community members in mind, and write directly to them. “hey guys, i have something cool to show you, here’s why you might like it,” post your link, select the best photo preview if applicable, and send it off.
need an example?
i’ll walk the talk here for you. first, i wrote this article and posted it here on my blog. i usually write these articles as the main entrée to my newsletter, so i wrote and sent my newsletter. then i went to facebook and posted it on my business page. the same goes for linkedin, though they are tricky to link to, and google+. i created a shortened url so i’d have most of my 140 characters to tease it on twitter. if this were a creative inspiration post, i’d pin it to my pinterest board of the same name. i created my content and reached out to each community individually with a unique message to let them know about it, linking right back here. and at the bottom of this post, i let you know that you can get more useful info just like this in my irregularly-delivered newsletter.
but what about building community on each social network?
hey, there’s nothing wrong with adding to your photo albums and posting quickie updates without always linking to your site — AFTER you finish your self-promotion, that is. give your facebook fans photos to share, post instagram shots to twitter & tumblr, encourage conversations, share support information and press that links to other sites. blend these things in as you see fit, just make them secondary to your main objective…YOU!
these are the basics, but there can be a few levels of social media engagement integrated into an overall marketing plan. my penchant for organizing these strategies is also a service i offer. if you need help figuring out how to implement a system like this or want to fold some existing efforts into an overall campaign, reach out and we’ll figure it out!
if you liked this article and want more like it, sign up for the parlato design studio newsletter for your monthly power shake of design, branding, marketing & promotion!