Now that Christmas is behind us it’s only natural to begin reflecting on the past year and to make plans (resolutions?) for the coming year. From a business and social media point of view, we had a very active year in 2010. We launched this blog in April and have made sixteen posts to it so far. And we’ve shared a great deal of the work we’ve been doing for our clients on Facebook with our own poloDesign business page there. We even found time to do a number of seminar presentations in Brighton, Trenton and Belleville on social media and what to include in building business websites.
While we did have a remarkably successful year, there’s always room to adjust and make improvements. With that in mind, I thought I would share 5 suggestions we’ll be following for improving social media engagement in 2011.
1. Blog more regularly
This one’s a biggie, because it so often is held up as the cornerstone of any social media strategy. From a business point of view, blogging helps you develop and maintain an interested audience for your product or service. It allows you to establish expertise in your field. And it adds fresh content for your audience (and search engines) to follow. Without fresh, engaging content you have less of a reason to continue asking for a share of your audience’s valuable time and attention.
I know it’s hard to write blogs on a regular basis; believe me I know this so well. But it’s necessary to make that commitment. It’s human nature to let things slip, but a forgotten blog becomes just that, forgotten. If you won’t spend time with your blog why should anyone else?
2. Follow and comment on more blogs
How will you learn to be a better blogger if you don’t read a few yourself? You’ll also find related content that you might be able to share occasionally in lieu of having to always produce it yourself. And it’s a great way to spark ideas for your own material or to find potential collaborators and business partners. I already have my Google Reader set up to follow an assortment of blogs that interest me, however there’s always room for more.
What I really need to work on in the new year is commenting on other blogs. This is where the “social” part of social media comes in. It’s how you join the conversation instead of only being a broadcaster of your own content. By taking an interest in what others have to say and contributing to their blogs you create awareness of yourself in other forums where your company or brand might not have been known. Are you going to deny yourself the opportunity to put your name in front of potential new clients?
3. Make use of other social media platforms
In my personal life I’m already on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and I have a YouTube account, but I recognize that I rely heavily on Facebook as my main communication medium. As for Twitter and LinkedIn, I use them more as research tools than social ones so it’s probably time for me to remedy that.
For our business, as I mentioned at the start, we chose to begin promoting poloDesign through Facebook and our blog. Those are both good starting points, but people use different platforms to connect in different ways. Just as TV is different from radio, which is different from print in terms of what you can do and who you can reach, so too are the online social media. It’s important to explore those platforms and make use of them if they fit your communication needs (not all of them will).
One caveat I would offer is to be certain you’re ready to expand onto other platforms. Don’t do it because you keep reading that you should. Do it because you’ve already established good practices in using one or two social media platforms before moving on to others. Remember what I said about that forgotten blog? Don’t build a ghost town of unused platforms with your name stamped across them.
4. Collaborate more
If this is truly “social” media, then nothing could be more social than finding opportunities to collaborate with others. Look for businesses that might complement your own and find a way to work with them to generate some “buzz”. Create an event, make a referral or recommendation, or simply offer praise and recognition using your social platforms. By doing so, you’ll help yourself, your collaborators and also your individual audiences by potentially introducing them to products and services they want or need. The biggest benefit of course, is that you’ll become more involved in building a bigger and better community.
5. Be strategic and plan ahead
Boy, if there’s one thing we could probably all use a little more of in our businesses it’s planning, right? Too often we are more reactive than we are proactive, but we can work to change our behaviour. And following this suggestion will help you in implementing the first four suggestions.
There are two main reasons we fail to keep up with using social media.
- Not having (or feeling we don’t have) enough time to do it.
- Being uncertain as to what or how to communicate with our audience.
Instead of waking up each morning and wondering what you might say on Facebook, Twitter or your blog, look ahead and decide what’s important for you to discuss with your audience. How? Well, this may sound boring, but start a list of things you want to share. As you work on your list, consider the items on it and how they fit into what’s going on in your business in terms of when sharing them would have the most impact.
As a means of demostrating strategy and planning in action, I’m going to wrap up this blog post by promising to elaborate on this final suggestion in our next post. So, now you know what to look forward to, and I know what I’ll be working on next.
In closing, I realize that I’m risking a potential loss of face here by putting these suggestions forward as New Year’s resolutions for poloDesign if we fail to follow through on them. However, I would encourage you to follow along and perhaps we can tackle these together. (Remember, we should be looking for opportunities to collaborate more.) By all means comment back, tell us your business resolutions and let us know how you do with them.