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Life is funny, isn’t it? You jump into blogging and worry about organic optimization because ABC SEO specialist said, “if you build it, they will come.” Ah, the undefined they. Well, in this case it’s they, as in, the search engines, the visitors, the conversions.
You jump into the huge time suck of engaging on Twitter and Facebook because XYZ social marketer said, “you have to give your customers some face time”. You jump on Quora, Amplify, Tumblr and 15 other things for the same reasons.
Do you feel like a Mexican jumping bean, yet?
Has any of it beefed up your business?
If not, why do you think it hasn’t?
Although no one has exactly the same reasons why a campaign hasn’t worked out as expected, usually it’s because they’ve forgotten something – some step – along the way. Look at our checklist and see if, just maybe, you’ve missed something.
1. Create a Plan of Action
Look – most of you didn’t start your business without a plan of action, right? Why, then, would you start any campaign without a plan of action? If you don’t have any actionable goals other than the idea that people will come, you can’t know if you’re meeting them.
So, whether you’re blogging, giving Facebook some face time or tweeting on Twitter, first figure out why you’re doing these things. Obviously, you want more traffic and conversions, but what are the goals in between?
For example, a goal to reach might be “increased engagement on Twitter” or “more comments per post”.
2. Define the Metrics to Track
The plan of action is always first, but then you have to decide how you’re going to track your efforts, and this means data in some form. Metrics, statistics, numbers – which are you going to watch? Are you going to pay attention to how many people are following you on Twitter? How about the amount of traffic per blog, or overall site traffic? What is your time line?
3. Choose Your Monitoring / Measuring Methods
Once you’ve outlined your plan and the data you’re going to track, you have to figure out how to monitor / measure the data. For example, you can monitor whether you’re increasing Twitter engagement by the number of retweets and mentions (Klout is good for this). You can use analytics from inside your blog for the kind of traffic you’re getting on each post, as another example. You can build a campaign around hash tags. There are plenty of ways to monitor and measure your efforts; you’re job is to figure out which one(s) you’ll use.
The important thing to know about monitoring /measuring methods is this – if you’re using programs, the statistics may not agree from program to program. There are several reasons for this, but it can drive you crazy going back and forth between programs reporting on the same metric. Which one do you believe?
So, choose, and then stick with that program. If you switch monitoring / measuring programs, then really switch. Comparing the data from similar programs can be confusing, frustrating and, sometimes, disheartening.
Maybe this should be number one. It’s easy to pour content, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. into the black hole of the Internet. It is not easy to do so in a manner people want to absorb and interact with.
No matter what your goals are, listening is important. You have to know what people are interested in reading and talking about for your industry. You have to listen when they talk about how cool so and so’s blog is. Because then, you have to track down so and so’s blog and figure out why your target audience thinks it’s cool.
You have to listen to your client or customer base. What questions do they have? Can they be answered in a blog? Are people finding your Twitter tips easy to follow? If you’re sending out daily Twitter tips and they’re never retweeted or commented on, they aren’t strong enough to cause responses. If they aren’t causing responses, they probably aren’t useful to most of your followers.
You can listen by asking questions. “What do you think about XYZ?” or “ABC Tip is: blah blah. What’s your experience?” or “Ask your question about… and I’ll answer it in a well thought out, highly engaging, completely humorous blog.”
Bonus: A side benefit of asking questions is that you teach people to come to you and look at you as an authority in your field.
5. Find your industry water cooler.
Not everybody in every industry hangs out on Twitter. Not everybody is a Facebook fan. Some people are more comfortable in forums; others spend hours pouring over Amplify or Quora.
The point is, instead of jumping on every bandwagon, be selective. If you hear about a new social media platform, don’t rush to sign up. Rush to research. “Is this the platform for me? Are people talking about the same things I’m talking about?”
If the answer is yes, try it out – just don’t pour a whole bunch of time and energy into the new platform. Give it a cautious test run.
If the answer is no, remember you have better things to do with your time than waste it on useless social media. Stick with your current water coolers and continue building your community.
Nothing in life worth having is free, and nothing you work to earn is worthless. When you start blogging, posting on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, etc., you’re actually starting a community. Your hope (for the business individuals, anyway) is that you can create an atmosphere of trust and authority around your efforts. This does not come easy.
If you’re organic approach and efforts aren’t working, whether you’re blogging for SEO and traffic or tweeting for recognition, you need to stop. Shut up. Listen. The one thing you need to meet your goals might be said by the very next person that follows your Twitter, fans your Facebook or comments on your blog.
It’s your turn – if you had to pick one essential approach for blogging and social networking, what would it be? What lessons have you learned from your experiences? What would you do differently and why?