It's time to take the fear and frustration out of social media.
In today's crowded marketplace, it's harder than ever to rise above the noise and clutter. For millions of businesses, a savvy approach to social media is the secret to creating sustainable engagement with a profitable niche audience. Social media done right can build and strengthen your relationship with your customers, encourage brand loyalty, extend your influence, and expand your credibility.
Social media changed the worldand today's social media platforms evolved to meet the world's changing needs. You've got more choices than ever beforeonline video, web audio, teleseminars, and moreplus new ways to attract prospects, retain customers, and reach a bigger audience. The trick is learning how to put the pieces together to create a powerful social media presence that draws in your ideal clients around the clock and around the world.
By using the powerful strategies in The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook, you will:
About the Author
Best-selling author Gail Z. Martin is a marketing expert, international speaker, and the owner of Dream Spinner Communications. She helps small and start-up businesses, consultants, coaches, authors, and solo professionals get better marketing results in just 30 days. Martin is also the author of 30 Days to Social Media Success, 30 Days to Online PR & Marketing Success, and The Thrifty Author's Guide to Launching Your Book. More information is available at www.GailMartinMarketing.com. Martin lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Read an Excerpt
VIRTUAL AND REALITY: HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE WORLD
Without social media, today's world would be a very different place.
Smartphones, 4G bandwidth, widespread public Wi-Fi, and adoption of social media across all age groups have made a whole new, instantaneous level of communication and connection possible with game-changing results. Social media showed us a new realm of possibilities, and in exchange, we've changed in what we want, need, and expect from social media.
Why should you care? Social media's impact on the world changed the business environment forever, presenting unparalleled opportunities and permanently shifting customer expectations. It's no longer a question of "whether" you need to use social media in business; if you expect to remain profitable, what you really need to know is "how" to keep up with the changes in social media strategy and use these dynamic, constantly evolving platforms to maximize your brand, influence, and credibility.
Let's start out by taking a look at some of the key ways social media altered the world in which we do business, because you'll need to understand the shifts so you can take full advantage of the strategies you'll learn as we move forward.
Forget postcards, letters, and e-mail. Forget the six o'clock news, the morning newspaper, or this month's magazine. Social media enables us to live in the "now." We are "in the moment" more than ever, in ways never before possible. We see what a friend across the country or across the world is having for dinner a moment after the plate arrives on the table. We watch streaming video from a cell phone user in another country and we see what that person sees in real time.
Not too terribly long ago, phone calls were the only immediate form of communication. Live video feeds required expensive, complex equipment and the resources of a major TV news channel, along with crews of trained personnel.
Now, whether it's the Arab Spring, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, or an altercation at a traffic stop anywhere in the country, someone will post video, maybe even a live stream. We see history and tragedy as they unfold in real time without the buffer of news anchors or TV networks editing or censoring. We go online to find breaking news instead of turning on the TV. Even in our personal lives, we check out someone's Facebook page to see how they are doing, where they're going on their vacation, or what they did today.
We have grown accustomed to living our lives played out for the world to see on a scale beyond what even the celebrities of yesteryear could have imagined. Not only are we used to the immediacy of sharing our lives moment-by-moment and getting instantaneous feedback, but it's easy to become addicted to the rush of validation that comments, shares, likes, and retweets provide. We are all stars of our very own reality show.
Use the immediacy of the Internet and social media to your advantage by inviting your audience at live events to post video, live-tweet, or upload photos to Facebook. Recognize that via social media, you can engage with people who could not attend your event in person, but who can participate virtually by responding to the in-the-moment content you and other attendees post as the event unfolds. Take advantage of the immediacy inherent in video by making use of the ever-expanding range of apps that make Web video easy. You're limited only by your imagination.
Disintermediation and Decentralized Information Flow
All hail the rise of the citizen journalist. Gone are the days when the network news teams of the broadcast TV channels curated the information, images, and opinions that reached the public. Social media, the Internet, and cell phones have made everyone a reporter, commentator, and broadcaster.
On one hand, this new decentralized information flow and its lack of institutional filters, censors, and controls frees us to digest information raw. We can find a nearly endless amount of information on every topic, posted by all kinds of sources. To the extent that this makes it much more difficult to suppress information or carry out disinformation campaigns, disintermediation is a good effect of social media.
No wealthy individual, no powerful government, no feared criminal is powerful enough to gag the Internet. WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, and many other whistleblowers and informants have proven time and again that secrets will come out. And when a media hoax is perpetrated or an urban legend goes viral, it falls as quickly as it rose to prominence, exposed by bloggers, fact-checkers, and sites like Snopes.com.
On the other hand, not all news sources are created equal. Although some may strive to be unbiased or to at least honestly admit their bias, many others take a "caveat emptor" approach. "Astroturf" organizations — groups with earnestly populist sounding names that are actually funded by political or business organizations with a definite agenda — can be difficult for the average reader to quickly identify. We can now report and retrieve our own news, but we must also authenticate the information provided to us by others.
Social media has also changed the concept of "expert." Subject matter experts can reach niche audiences easier than ever before, without the need for travel or speaking engagements. Blogs, videos, Webinars, and social media share a subject matter expert's insights and connect directly with the intended recipients.
At the same time, it's now up to the individual to determine whose expertise is authentic. Although experts have proliferated on social media, validating expertise has become a thorny proposition. Before social media, the experts who gained fame held some kind of hierarchical power. They worked for a large corporation, for the government, or for a nonprofit or religious organization, which functioned as a level of vetting. Expertise was also determined by earned degrees, such as MD, PhD, etc., or professional membership, which served as an endorsement from the organizations granting the degrees or accepting qualifications for membership.
Social media makes it possible for people with subject matter knowledge, computer skills, and an engaging personality to reach millions without needing to obtain the approval of gatekeepers. This opens tremendous possibilities for knowledgeable people with an entrepreneurial spirit, and has built the fame and fortune of many Internet gurus. Yet it can also be difficult to vet Internet experts because their information and platform is often entirely self-reported and their validation relies on anecdotal evidence and testimonials.
What does this mean for you? Social media presents you with a golden opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field of expertise and to reach the world with your information. Establish your credibility and build your brand through the valuable insights you share on social media, and use the connections you make to expand your influence.
We've always relied on the opinions of our family, friends, and neighbors. Yet it has never before been as easy to tap the "hive mind" of hundreds or thousands of acquaintances for information, opinions, and funding. Social media changed how we research, validate, and interpret information, and thanks to sites like Kickstarter, IndiGoGo, and GoFundMe, it has democratized the concept of "angel investing" on a massive scale.
Wikipedia and other wiki-powered sites amass the collective knowledge of individuals on every topic imaginable. Not only is the scale of that collection different from anything that came before, but so is the fact that no powerful body of experts serve as gatekeepers and moderators. We now have the essence of popular knowledge at our fingertips, but at the price of having that information tainted by our commonly held misinformation.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, commentators and opinion leaders held sway because they were noted experts or at least installed in their positions by organizations with cultural legitimacy. Rank-and-file opinions were relegated to the Letters to the Editor column. Now, that paradigm has been flipped, and the rise of sites like the Huffington Post amplifies the voices of anyone and everyone with insights to share.
Likewise, we used to turn to expert-written guides to inform our purchases, such as Consumer Reports, Zagats, Frommers, AAA, or the New York Times' best-seller list. Now, we make purchasing decisions based on the consumer feedback on Angie's List, Yelp, Amazon, and similar sites. Social media has completely changed how we seek out and consume information or weigh input on decisions great and small.
The takeaway for you lies in realizing potential customers may put far more stock into the ratings and testimonials provided by other clients than in fancy industry awards or accolades from traditional media. Customer service is more transparent than ever before, so you'll want to make sure that satisfaction is part of your ongoing strategy, and that you encourage happy clients to rate your services and provide quotable feedback.
Connectedness: Global Village and Marketplace
Thanks to social media and the Internet, we can have one foot in the tangible, local world, and the other in the virtual, global village. Our friendships are no longer constrained by proximity or the expense of old long-distance communication methods. We are free to find individuals and groups that share our interests, concerns, passions, and viewpoints regardless of physical location. Or we can strengthen bonds with far-flung friends and family without depending on the annual holiday card, newsletter, or hit-or-miss phone calls.
We form friendships and business relationships with people we interact with on social media that are every bit as real as those forged through in-person interaction. Our need for connection has not changed, but we have expanded the perimeter of our village and marketplace. The consequences are significant. Thanks to social media, every company, no matter its size, has a greater potential advertising reach than huge firms could even dream about in the days when traditional media reigned supreme.
Networking is also now unchained from physical proximity, meaning that you can easily develop customer, vendor, and resource relationships with people all around the world. When your social media engagement funnels prospects and customers to a well-functioning online sales site, you've got a recipe for success. Using social media to remain connected and engaged with prospects and customers between sales can yield more referrals and decrease attrition. Existing customers who understand the full scope of your offerings and are updated on new and expanded products and services are likely to buy more frequently.
Though social media can help you expand your opportunities in the global marketplace, be aware that it also exposes you to worldwide competition. Customers are no longer limited by proximity, and although that creates benefits for you, it also benefits your competition. To stay on top of the market, you may need to up your game and embrace new technology, like video, or expand your strategies for building connection and engagement. Social media platforms and tools change swiftly, which requires willingness on your part to be constantly learning and adapting.
Privacy and Security
Love it or hate it, social media changed how we think about privacy and security. Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Periscope make it easy to share our thoughts, reactions, itineraries, locations, and purchases on a nearly moment-by-moment basis. On one hand, that creates the immediacy and engagement that enables our friends and followers to feel like they are riding shotgun on our lives. Yet that intimacy comes at the cost of privacy, and details made public cannot be taken back.
Thanks to data mining, "cookies" that track online browsing and purchases, our Google histories and the information we share on social media, advertisers and social media sites can gather a frighteningly in-depth profile of our interests, consumer habits, opinions, and personal data. A few decades ago, people complained about the junk mail in their mailbox or spam e-mails. Those now seem like crude, fumbling attempts at advertising compared with pop-up ads on Amazon or Facebook that reflect your latest searches or purchases. As a consumer, the loss of privacy is unsettling. As a potential advertiser, the specificity with which an audience can be targeted using social media bodes well for effective positioning and successful campaigns.
Privacy is the conundrum of the social media era. Drawing the line between "sharing" and "oversharing" has personal and professional ramifications. Posting a Facebook rant on a bad day or firing off a tweet in anger can lose you clients and tarnish your reputation. Post a photo or a comment without context and you might invite a firestorm. Yet pull back too much, build the walls too high to defend your private life, and your social media lacks authenticity and personality.
Before Facebook and social media, only celebrities needed to worry about their public "persona." Simple professionalism worked just fine for everyone else who went about their business largely out of the public eye. Social media has given us all much more than the "fifteen minutes of fame" artist Andy Warhol predicted awaited everyone in the future. Now that each of us has the ability to broadcast globally in a medium that never sleeps, having a personal PR survival strategy is essential.
Realize that when you show the world your "professional" side, you are presenting a carefully curated version of the real you. Ideally, you will find the balance of revealing enough personality, appropriate humor, warmth, and emotion to attract people to you as a person while still retaining boundaries around the parts of your personal life that you want to keep off-limits to the general public.
This is where the security aspect comes into play. Many experts who share a great deal about themselves on social media draw the line at sharing information about their children or family members for safety reasons. Using apps that tag your location can be great when promoting your appearance at a business event, but less desirable when it comes to exposing your every move during your private time. This is especially true for people who have experienced real-life or online stalkers or Internet trolls and who have reason to fear for their physical safety. Even without such threats, common sense suggests that it's not wise to post about upcoming trips or vacations that leave your house unoccupied or to broadcast your hotel information or itinerary if traveling alone. Make sure you know what information your social media apps are disclosing about you and how to turn those options on and off to protect your privacy and security.
Put your best professional foot forward on social media and remember that, unlike Vegas, what happens on Facebook never stays on Facebook.
Language and Paradigms
Before social media, trolls lived under bridges, birds tweeted, and friends were people we knew personally. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, our language has evolved to reflect our online lives. The dictionary now recognizes new words like "livestream," "hashtag," and "selfie" and has added to the definitions of older words like "troll" and "tweet."
Part of using social media successfully and being part of the online world requires you to learn and use terms appropriately. I've heard people misuse or mangle social media terms and though they indicated that they thought it was funny to do so, unfortunately it made them seem outdated and behind the times. Social media is here to stay, and it is a valuable and intrinsic part of building your brand and maximizing your influence. You build your own credibility when you make the effort to keep up-to-date on the language of social media and use it correctly.
Social media has not only altered language, but also our paradigms. Concepts like crowdsourcing information and crowdfunding projects didn't exist before social media made them possible. Likewise, the dark side of social media reframed our understanding of aggression with highly publicized cyber-bullying incidents and situations like GamerGate, which showed the power of social media stalkers and Internet trolls to cost people their reputation, livelihood, personal safety, and in extreme cases, their lives.
Because social media dramatically increases an individual's reach, it's especially important to think before you tweet or post, especially if you have accumulated a large audience of friends and followers online. Although that reach enables you to help others by connecting them to your mission and services, a single hastily posted message in a moment of anger can do a great deal of damage to someone's reputation or livelihood.
Blurring Virtual and Reality
Social media is rapidly evolving, changing from a completely text-based medium in its early days to increasingly embrace — and favor — photos, audio, and especially video. As more of our senses are engaged, our connectedness grows. As consumers, we have progressively moved more and more of our lives online. We shop on Amazon, consult with a business mentor via Skype, log into a secure page to e-mail our doctor with a question, check a mobile app to request a book from the library, and see if our prescription is ready at the pharmacy. Nearly every business and organization with which we interact in the real world has a social media presence (and possibly an app) to provide additional on-demand content, help, and connection.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook"
Copyright © 2017 Gail Z. Martin.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Section 1 Setting the Course
Chapter 1 Virtual and Reality: How Social Media Changed the World 13
Chapter 2 Creating a Social Media Plan and Platform 23
Chapter 3 Building Credibility and Gathering Your Tribe 33
Section 2 Building a Foundation
Chapter 4 The Mighty Three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn 53
Chapter 5 Navigating the Google Empire 69
Chapter 6 Blogging, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram 73
Chapter 6 YouTube, Facebook Live, and Web Video 81
Section 3 Level Up Your Game
Chapter 8 Maximizing interest Sites, Meetup, Reddit, and Forums 97
Chapter 9 Internet Radio and Podcasting 103
Chapter 10 Kickstarter, Patreon, and GoFundMe 115
Chapter 11 Social Amplification and Gamification 125
Section 4 Beyond the Basics
Chapter 12 Why You Still Need a Website and a Newsletter 135
Chapter 13 Social Media, Branding, and Influence 141
Chapter 14 Go Global, Stay Local 153
Chapter 15 Social Media Tips and Tricks for Authors, Speakers, Event Planners, and Content Creators 169
Chapter 16 Not-for-Profit and Cause-Focused Grass Roots Social Media 191
Chapter 17 Time in a Bottle: Capturing History on Social Media 209
Conclusion: Imagining the Future 221
Resources: Cool Sites You Haven't Heard Of 227
About the Author 237