So you’ve made the resolution that in 2012 you are finally going to “get into” social media and use it to build a brand for you or your business. But you’re not a geek and you’re not with a big corporation that already has a social media team or a fairly savvy marketing department. For you, time is of the essence. You don’t have all day to give to this endeavor, which is why you haven’t done it already. So here’s what to do in 10 easy steps:
1) Buy the domain name for you and/or your business if you don’t already own them. I gave my grandchildren their domain names when they were born.
2) Start a blog if you have some area of expertise that you would like to showcase. Use WordPress or Blogger because they are free, hosted, and have some built-in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) juice. Point the DNS to your brand domain. Your domain registrar can help you do this. This will stop your blog’s address from being http://buppythepuppy.wordpress.com and make it http://buppythepuppy.com. (Yes, I branded my golden retriever). It’s shorter and easier for people who want to go there. And don’t expect traffic or comments. That’s not the objective. Authority is the goal.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to blog every day. Just sit down once a week or so and write 500 words about your field of expertise or your major interest. Or take pictures, make video, or record sound. Just contribute to your blog, and keep the subject matter related to what you want your brand to be known for (fishing experts should not write about wine, even if they love it). Your blog is found by its keywords, so write about something in which the same keywords might occur in almost every post.
3) Open accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Use your own name, or that of your business, not some clever “handle.”) Immediately upload either your best photo or your brand logo.
4) Sign up for a free service called Dlvr.it to have your blog post automatically appear on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn streams without you having to do anything. Whenever you post, Dlvr.it will deliver your post. You will have to learn what RSS is (Really Simple Syndication) and what your blog’s RSS feed is. The blogging platform can tell you that. Or you can Google your own feed.
5) Build an audience. This is the most important part, and it is done differently on each service. On Twitter, find people to follow by listing yourself on WeFollow and looking for keywords that describe your target customers. Just follow them once you find them, and read your tweet stream to see what they say. When appropriate and you have something to add, reply to your followers. Post only valuable content. Make yourself useful to your Twitter followers.
6) Develop a brand page on Facebook if you have a brand that might develop a following. Same with Google +. Otherwise, save yourself the effort of maintaining brand pages and post under your own name. Make sure your profile is completely filled out with information about what you do and what you would like in a customer or a job.
7) List your company on LinkedIn and Crunchbase if it’s appropriate.
8) Rinse and repeat. This is hugely important. Do only as much as you can maintain over a long period of time–say a year. It should take you about an hour a day, either in one fell swoop or spread out during odd intervals when your life/business is dull. The key is continuity and repetition. If your blog posts aren’t time-sensitive, you can re-post them again later, when you have more followers.
9) Be useful and be kind. The best personal brands are built on generosity, like @garyvee and on very hard work over a long period of time, like @scobleizer. Yes, these are tech brands, but if you want to look at another sector, try @mchammer, @ritholtz (an iconoclastic Wall Streeter who started a blog called The Big Picture that became a huge media success), or @epatientdave (man who almost died and saved himself by becoming a patient advocate) or @kevinmd (early-adopter physician). These people give information out into the social media universe without asking anything in return.
10) Do this yourself. Prepare to make many new friends. Do not hire a consultant who can’t tell your brand story accurately. You are better off doing less, but being authentic, than blasting the social media universe with more useless stuff. We are all pressed for time–the readers AND the writers.