The Five P's of Social Media—Where Do You Start?

My favorite letter

Everyone asks me, "Now that I'm getting a better idea of what social media is, How do I actually apply it? Where do I start?" Start with these, The Five P's of Social Media. The Five P's are; Profiles, Propagate, Produce, Participate, and Progress.

The first of the Five P's are Profiles. There are basically two types of Profiles, your personal profile or your company profile and a group profile. Personal profiles can be; Lon Safko in LinkedIn, in FaceBook, in MySpace, in Flickr. An example of a group can be Social Media, The Social Media Bible, or Innovative Thinking.

mysPaceGo fill out and lock in your name, company name, and group names in every social networking site you can think of as soon as possible. If you've got a particular subject matter that you can think of that you or your company is going to participate in, make sure you get that group name so that you can have control over it.

The importance of filling out your profiles right now, is to make sure that you lock in your names under that profile before someone else gets it and precludes you from doing that forever. We're beginning to find cyber squatters. These are people who are going out and taking people's and company's names, claiming ownership and then trying to sell them back to you or your company later.

The second P is Propagate. That means that after you've created your accounts and filled in your profiles in Flickr, PodBean, or YouTube, you need to begin to propagate those accounts. You've got photographs, you've got company photographs, you've got product photographs, service photographs, you've got customer photographs, you've got video and you probably have audio files.

Get out there and get all of your digital files collected and get them uploaded to these websites. If you want to win the game you have to play. You've got to be able to participate by propagating all of these sites. You need to be there when your customers and more importantly, your prospects are there looking for you (or, better yet, your competitors).

uPloadThe third P is Produce.If you don't have a lot of content, or if you just want to add new content, then create it, produce it! It's really not that hard. Your computer, more than likely, has a built in microphone and free sound editing software (if not, go get Audacity, a free audio recording and editing software). You can create podcasts like I did for my book, The Social Media Bible. The creation of this content is essentially 100% free. For the book, I created 48 audio interviews that if played back-to-back would run for 24 continuous hours. Click here to listen: http://www.thesocialmediabible.com/the-experts/

The best part of all this is there is no associated cost. Just sit down, get familiarized with it, practice it a few times, and start talking. The most important thing is—if you're going to produce video or audio, or even text in a blog format—remembering to include a strong "What's in it for me?" message for the consumer of your information.

For the same reasons that you began reading this, you want to know about how to get started with social media. You want good take-aways in exchange for the time you spend reading this. If you don't come away with good usable suggestions, you won't come back. There has to be a strong, what's in it for me—WII-FM message. Your take away is that you are going to, just by giving me a few minutes of your time, understand how to begin to implement social media.

So make sure that when you're creating your video, or you're creating your audio, or even writing your blog, that there's going to be a strong, "What's in it for me—message" for your customers. Give them a reason to keep watching, listening, or reading your content.

the social media bibleThe fourth P is Participate. Participate means that you need to get out and actually participate in other people's content and in their blogs. Begin commenting, but don't just jump in and comment. After speaking with Robert Scoble and Chris Heuer from The Social Media Club, one of the things that kept coming out in all these interviews were, that you can't just jump into the conversation. You need to listen. You need to understand. You need to participate.

It's like going to a party or a networking event. You walk into a party and there are little groups around the room that are all participating in their own conversations. For you to walk up to any group and just say, "Hi, my name is Lon, and I sell and consult..." and interrupt everybody would be completely inappropriate. Proper etiquette would dictate that you walk up to the group, you listen to the conversation for a while, you wait until to you have something of value to add, then you simply add that value by commenting. Whether is at a party, a networking event, or on someone's blog, video sharing site, or on their photograph sharing site, it always works the same.

Participate first, and remember, if you're not participating you're not in the game, and you cannot win.

The fifth and final P is Progress. The old saying goes, "You cannot manage what you don't measure," so be sure you measure and manage your progress. Measuring means, how many views has your video gotten on YouTube? How many downloads were there of your podcast? How many views of your Flickr photographs? How many comments are coming in on your blogs? How many Google Alerts are you getting where other people are linking to or talking about your website?

PodcastThese are ways that you can manage your progress, but you have to measure it in order to manage it. It's really simple to get out there, and almost all of these tools are absolutely free; like Google Alerts are really valuable! Albert Einstein once defined "insanity" as doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. That's really true. When you get out there and you're looking at your progress, and which videos are being viewed the most, and which blogs are being linked to the most, it's got to give you an idea of what your customers, your prospects, and your followers are most interested in.

It's really simple. The videos that aren't getting any views, well stop it. The ones that are, simply do more of those. The same thing goes for your blog. If posts aren't getting traffic stop writing those kinds of posts and try something else. So get out there. I want you to complete your profiles, create your groups. Propagate your accounts with good content, produce good meaningful "What's in it for me content," whether it's just a simple photograph, an audio file, or a video. Participate in the conversation. Comment on people's blogs and, of course, measure your progress.

Do these five tasks and you will be on your way to successful social media marketing.

Read more of Lon Safko's Social Media Bible blog

Lon Safko is the co-author of The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies For Business Success. He is also an innovator and professional speaker with over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, strategic partnering, speaking, training, writing, and e-commerce. He is the founder of eight successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc.

Click here for your free Fast Company The Social Media Bible Ten Commandment Ball. Just print, cut, glue, and be inspired!

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5 Comments

  • Lauren Garcimonde-Fisher

    May I add a sixth P? P #6 is for process. As per my recent blog process, everything is better when a process is in place. A solid process gets the right people involved, at the right times, to lead a project toward the right out.

    http://www.laurengarcimonde.co...

  • Lynne d Johnson

    Social Media is a direct line of communication to your customers. There's no question whether you should invest time or not. If you're worried about ROI, think about how much money and time goes into advertising campaigns and email and direct mail and how many customers you get there. Now compare that to how many customers you can convert from Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and the like. As Gail Sideman already said, it's about exposure. These are just more channels of exposure, but the difference between them and ads and mail is that you get to have a conversation with your customers.

  • Ali Parmelee

    Gail, I completely agree with you. Online brands are imperative to maintain. The conversation is happening with or without you. So you should be actively participating instead of letting them evolve without your control. Not to mention, social media is a great outlet for maintaining top-of-mind awareness, market research, and ultimately understanding what your customers are passionate about.

  • Gail Sideman

    There is a fine line between PR and marketing efforts, but the road that leads to success with either is paved with how many people know about you/product/service. It's about exposure to your target markets. Each medium has its own purpose and users of social media will quickly discover this. Social media, just like face-to-face communication is as honest as its users but in my opinion, still more credible than paid advertising (although it has its place in the exposure spectrum). The bottom line is as Lon writes, you need to be in the conversation. If you're not in the social media conversation and talking about yourself/product/service, someone else eventually will and you'll have lost control of your own message(s).

  • Kevin Lenard

    And as I commented to yesterday's article, Lon, after we invest ALL this time and energy (and $) in following your advice, exactly how will it benefit our brands/company? We'll be more 'popular' amongst those who are active on social media? Not sure what the real value of this is going to be for brands -- but good for you for jumping on this prior to any of us really understanding what the point of it all is!

    At the risk of being pedantic: "medium" does NOT equal "marketing". Some new media are ripe for marketing efforts, with others its merely appropriate to monitor the conversations and react the right way to what's being said. I'm not sure that anything carrying the moniker "social" is a place for us to be trying to manipulate honest, open consumer communication, any more than we'd interrupt a private phone call with an ad. There's a fine line between PR and marketing efforts.

    Just a though, however. Hope your book does well, regardless.

    http://advertisingbusinessmode...