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Build a foundation and be amazing!

Social media marketing can be daunting. This article, by Marketing Profs, helps businesses focus on what needs to be done to harness the power of social media.

Social media marketing can broaden your reach, enable you to engage your audience, and help you create raving fans. So why are so many businesses still treading water with social media marketing? Why are so many marketers still approaching it randomly—without clear direction, without an understanding of its underlying value, and without many of the structures and strategies typically applied to other channels?

Considering that so many companies are overwhelmed by social media marketing, or feel as though they have hit a plateau with their social media marketing efforts, how can you break through and create truly amazing marketing that elevates your business to another level?

Here are 25 keys to getting waaaaay more out of your social media marketing.

The Foundation

1. Develop a clear strategy

Stop everything! Before you go any further with your social media marketing, develop a clear, focused strategy. That is the most important step you can take. Don't "do social." Instead, be social. And understand exactly what that means for your business and your audience.

2. Define clear metrics

Do you know how to measure the success of your social efforts? Your efforts don't necessarily need to be measured via hard revenue figures, but the metrics should go deep enough to guide your actions and ensure real value to your business.

3. Build scalability (tools, technologies, etc.)

It's easy to get overwhelmed by social media. Use technology for social monitoring, management, posting, and measurement to help you scale your efforts—effectively managing multiple brands across multiple platforms. Otherwise, social media will overwhelm you.

4. Conduct competitive intelligence

What's the competition up to? Monitor, monitor, monitor. What's working well for them, and what isn't?

5. Clarify roles and responsibilities

Who is responsible for what, internally? What are the time commitment and scheduling expectations? Have a well-thought-out action plan in place, so your social media efforts don't become an afterthought—second to other day-to-day tasks.

6. Develop a reporting structure

Increase value by measuring and reporting results on a regular schedule so you can measure alignment with your goals and implement improvements in future initiatives.

7. Analyze the data

Like strategy, "analysis" is too often forgotten. Without a regular analysis schedule, you're likely getting only half the possible value out of your social media marketing efforts because you're not fully capturing insights and trends.


1. Create an innovation platform

Look at social media as an innovation petri dish. Test ideas, see what resonates, collect feedback, engage, and create new value for your customers.

2. Glean customer insights—ask questions

Ask your audience members what they want. Ask them again. And again.

3. Glean customer insights—listen and engage

Listen to what your customers have to say. There's something akin to scraping one's fingernails across a chalkboard when customers dish their hearts out and a company ignores their feedback. Instead, have a meaningful dialogue. Engage them, treat them with respect, and make them part of the process.

4. Crowdsource

These days, it seems you can crowdsource practically everything but the kitchen sink (wait, you actually can crowdsource the kitchen sink!). So, use social media platforms to help you develop your next product, solve your next problem, capture data for your next market research, etc.

Be Amazing

1. Brand your business

Express your branding and your personality in everything you do. Even if your products are boring, you don't have to be.

2. Create a 90-day transformation plan

How can you become a better, stronger, and more powerful force? Define your ideal social media presence, then develop a 90-day step-by-step plan to transform your brand.

3. Answer questions

If someone calls you and asks a question, you answer. If he or she emails you a question, you answer. Social media is no different.

4. Provide superior customer support

Your business can learn a lot from online shoe retailer Zappos. The company does an amazing job of providing customer support via social media. So should you.

5. Give 'em some "WOW!"(surprise 'em!)

Shake things up, and completely wow your fans every now and then. Offer something that they will truly value; empower them; thrill them.

6. Mix it up

Instead of just promoting your blog posts via social media, mix up the content. Consider videos, podcasts, questions, contests, interviews, news, and downloads, and share others' valuable content.

7. Incorporate current events

Has something important happened today? How are you using that to provide timely, contextually relevant information to your audience?

8. Integrate, integrate, integrate

Integrate all of your marketing so that your audience's experience with your brand is consistent (and consistently awesome).

9. Help others

Strap on that Superman or Wonder Woman cape, and see how you can help others solve their problems.

Build Your Business

1. Build networks

Build relationships not only with your customers but also with influencers, the media, thought leaders, etc. See how you can help them.

2. Drive conversions

What do you want people to do? Make it clear through calls-to-action, and drive people to specific conversions.

3. Commerce and social commerce

If you are selling products, try selling via social platforms. If your audience responds positively, congratulations: You have one more channel. If not, use social media to reach other objectives.

4. Get local and get mobile

If you're a local business, understand that mobile matters. Use place offers, check-ins, and whatever other new tools become available for local marketing in the future.

5. Advertise

Along with all the non-paid marketing you are doing, mix in some advertising. Facebook was responsible for roughly one-third of display advertising in the first quarter of 2011. There's a reason it's so popular.

* * *

So, if you are feeling stuck, or you're going around in circles with your social media efforts, take a step back and revamp your plans by following those 25 tips. Taking your social media marketing performance to the next level—and beyond—is within your reach.

Tom Shapiro is the founder and CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a full-service digital marketing and design firm that offers strategy, Web development, design, SEO, conversion optimization, social media, email marketing, and more.

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