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This is part two of our mini-featurette on Social Media.

Part one was selecting your weapons of choice.

So now you’ve chosen which channels you’re going to use now comes the rub….

How do I use it?!

First things first, don’t auto-tweet/facebook/whatever. Just don’t. No matter what anyone tells you, the only followers you’re ever going to get if you auto-post your messaging are robots and other people auto-posting and following. Like any social interaction the whole point of social media is that word, interaction.

Engagement is the key where, the amount of times I’ve heard a client say ‘we want more likes’. WHY!!!

Why would you possibly want more likes or follows.

Ok let me wind that back a little, having 100,000′s of likes and follows is great but it’s just a number. I can have 1000 followers and 600 of them engage/talk with me on a regular basis. I can have 100,000 and only 100 talk/engage with me.

The number of followers or likes is not an indication of how successful your campaign has been. The success of any campaign, social or otherwise, is in the metric of £’s notes that have been passed over which then gives you a return.

If I pay a social guru dude to market my business, so I give him/her £1,000, and they turn round to me and say ‘we’ve got you 10,000 more likes now what a huge success it’s been’ I’d beat them with a teaspoon because invariably that 10,000 extra likes hasn’t bought me any business whatsoever. You can argue that sure there’s now more potential of getting business now 10,000 more people are ‘tuned in’, but lets be honest unless you’re getting their engagement, their buy-in you’re just preaching to a number.

You want to build tribes, advocates who’ll go out there and let the world know about how epic your business is, what a great service/product/person you have or are. You want them tub-thumping for you, equally you want to give them stuff back.

One great example of how to use social media, albeit he does have the luxury of being epically loaded and therefore the time to invest in it, is Richard Branson. He uses several channels (he’s big on Google+ now) to get his message out there, mixed in with the various Virgin based things they’re doing as a business is some really useful stuff on entrepreneurialism, he’s a huge advocate of the JFDI (look it up) culture. Going out there grabbing life by the balls and taking a risk and he gives you warts and all examples of the things he’s done, done well and failed at, too.

I’m not a massive fan of super successful business people (another commentary later on!) giving me ‘how-to’s’ on how to be like them and be a success, but Branson has it nailed in that it’s less about ‘how to’ and more about ‘I did this it did or didn’t work take from it what you want but it’s possible so get out there and give it a try’ type approach.

Anyway I digress. Social media, how to….sign up and dive in, find conversations (use Twitter as a search engine, we have a search running for people asking advice on eCommerce and various other web things), once you’ve found the conversations you’re interested in then dive into it and get involved. It doesn’t matter if they don’t use you, you’ve put your neck on the line, you’re an authority on the subject (the perception and hopefully the reality) and they will ask your advice further down the line.

The best example we have is a client who we gave a bunch of advice too across Twitter back in 2011, they became a client of ours in 2013 this year, 2 years later off the back of the sage (we have our moments!) advice we gave them with regards eCommerce and responsive design.

Like any conversation, any social environment, if you have nothing to say don’t bother. Don’t find yourself wondering what to post. Equally don’t post too much especially if it’s more ‘salesy’ focussed. Would you want someone down the pub waving leaflets in your face every 5 minutes saying ‘buy my stuff’ ? Nope, neither would I and that’s what you’re doing albeit virtually.

That’s pretty much it. Treat it like a trip down the pub, what would you do? What would you say? Create and nurture relationships online as you would in the real world, they’re just as real and the same conversation is just as relevant. There is no trick to it whatsoever, there is no ‘how to’ that will give you any more experience other than what you do on an everyday basis anyway it’s just a different medium.

Instead of using your mouth you’re using your fingers to do the talking, it’s still the same thing driving it though….YOU.

Now at this point you’ll be going but…but…but what about the ’000s I’ve spent on my latest widget campaign….Well that’s a slightly different proposition and equally valid, it’s where the strategy bit really does pay off. But it’s still like any other marketing campaign out there. Choose your campaign tools, deliver it, calculate ROI (return on investment). The difference is really in how you can flex the social medium beyond anything you could do directly as you have (hopefully) an engaged audience to generate enthusiasm, advocacy and engagement about your campaign. The idea then is to get your advocates to share and send your campaign out beyond it’s initial market. Do it well and you’ll get the magical ‘viral’ word occur and you’ll see results beyond any expectations.

Just a quick note on the word ‘viral’, whilst you could spend ’000,000′s on a room full of blokes in trendy suits coming up with wild and inventive ways to take your product or concept ‘viral’ never forget that a 1 min clip of a fat kid waving a light sabre around or a 15 second clip of a bloke chasing after his dog have been way more successful than a ton of campaigns I’ve seen launched and fail miserably at ever going viral or even achieving the main goal of bums on seats, product purchased, buzz generated etc

Bottom line – be yourself, be social = win!

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