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The PM4Web blog was born as an outlet to return knowledge back to the web development community. My goal is to share my experiences as a project manager from over the years in a manner which helps you succeed with your own projects.

11 July, 2010

Basic Social Media Strategy - Part 1 (Twitter)

Developing a social media strategy to suit the needs of a specific business.

Due to the length of this guide it has been broken-up into two parts; part one focuses on Twitter, part 2 deals with Facebook.

The Internet is awash with tales of how Twitter and Facebook have helped businesses improve their bottom line. This is peculiar considering that neither of these tools was expressly designed for business use. Thanks to the ever-increasing push for innovative marketing techniques and down-right creativity by some boffins, these social networking mediums are slowly being commandeered by businesses. Far-fetched you say? Remember that the Internet first started as a military tool, than transitioned to an education tool, now it's largely about business, information-sharing, and self-expression.

What makes Twitter and Facebook so apt for business promotion? Is it the novelty, is it because of its low cost nature, or is it because it's 'trendy with the kids' (potentially prying open untapped markets)? Or, could it be because it's so well suited to guerrilla marketing tactics, what business doesn't like cheap advertising which gets too hard to reach customers? I'd say it's too early to begin speculating on why social media is gaining so much popularity with businesses (who knows, could it be just another fad?).

Whatever the reason for the meteoric rise of social media as a marketing mechanism, it can't be denied that people are increasingly asking "how do I put Facebook and Twitter on my website?" This brings us to the reason for this article; how do you develop a basic social media strategy tailored to the specific needs of a client? This guide is best suited to small businesses who are perhaps just launching their website, or are ready to get a bit more serious about marketing (but not serious about the expense of traditional marketing avenues; e.g. magazine ads, etc).

Like SEO, customers know about Facebook and Twitter, but don't necessarily understand how they work or how they can be utilized effectively for business purposes. They may have an appreciation for its importance, but don't really know where to begin. This is a good starting point, but it does require stepping back to provide context before delving into the intricacies of Twitter and Facebook.

It's important to point out early on in the exercise that a social media strategy has two major aspects to it. There is the work you will do as a technology supplier to develop the strategy (e.g. setup Twitter, etc); then there is the continual commitment the client will need to make to keep it all going. If a client is under the impression that Twitter and Facebook are 'fire and forget', they are sorely mistaken. Like puppies, Twitter and Facebook aren't just for Christmas. Clients need to be prepared to commit time every week to keep it fresh, and perhaps keep going for months before expecting to see some form of tangible return.

Now onto the actual pragmatics of the social media strategy. Because social media as a marketing tool is so new, I believe a face-to-face meeting with a presentation is warranted. I have developed a series of 11 PowerPoint slides. You can expect the meeting to go for one to two hours (depending on how often you stop to answer questions). One important factor of the slide-show is that it needs to be tailored each time to be specific to the business. If it was generic, it wouldn't be a consultative service. So it does take preparation before-hand to think about how Facebook and Twitter relate to your customer's particular business.

The entire slide series can be summarized as follows:
1. Introduction
2. The Basics: What is Twitter?
3. Let's Go Deeper: Twitter
4. Twitter for Business
5. Setting Up Twitter
6. Tips for Using Twitter
7. The Basics: What is Facebook?
8. Let's Go Deeper: Facebook
9. Facebook for Business
10. Setting Up Facebook
11. Tips for Using Facebook

Roughly half the presentation focuses on Twitter, the other half covers Facebook (nb. this is discussed in part 2 of this article). Some of the information in the slides may seem obvious and simplistic to you, but remember that the target audience is someone who knows little about social networking tools. The slides are meant to serve as triggers for discussion, rather than definitive sources of information. As you progress from one slide to the next, be prepared to stop as needed to discuss topics in more detail.

The first slide sets the scene for things to come, outlining what will be discussed during the course of the presentation.

The Basics: What is Twitter?
Twitter - the basics
This is a rudimentary introduction of what Twitter is. Some common Twitter terminology is also mentioned on this slide.

Let's Go Deeper: Twitter
Twitter - lets go deeper
This builds on the previous slide by mentioning more terminology associated with Twitter. The number of Twitter users world-wide is highlighted as a demonstration of the traction it has garnered amongst Internet users.

Twitter for Business
Twitter for business
By this point the introductory portion of the presentation has concluded. You can begin to discuss Twitter's application as a business tool. It's important to draw some distinctions between Twitter and traditional forms of marketing.

Setting Up Twitter
setting up Twitter
Knowledge without application is largely useless; so this is where you list the actual work that needs to be carried out to make the social media strategy a reality. The name next to each task clearly shows who's meant to undertake the task (i.e. you or the client).

Tips for Using Twitter
Tips for using Twitter
The last slide puts forward some suggestions for getting the most out of Twitter.

Dilbert - Twitter

One thing you may have noticed with the slides is they act as an information funnel. They begin quite general and narrow down to pin-point the actual application of the concepts in real-world terms (i.e. what work actually needs to be done to make it all happen).

Read part 2: Basic Social Media Strategy - Part 2 (Facebook).

Download the PowerPoint presentation.

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