I want to thank Pat Yocom from Lake Effect Embroidery, a past Twitter 101 student, for inviting  me to speak today at her business leads group in Michigan City. There was great energy within the group–it’s nice to see the dynamics in action when a leads group is really working. I suspect that this group can put the following 10 tips to good use. Here’s the recap I promised:

  1. Web Site and Domain Name for Email
    If you don’t already have your own web site and email that uses your own domain name (i.e. kathy@mysocialmediacoach.com vs. kathy@gmail.com), price is not a good excuseVistaprint offers web site packages that include a “real” domain name for your web site and email, starting at just $10 a month (additional add-on features are available for slightly higher rates.)
  2. Blog
    Web + log = blog. Some blogs are looking more and more like web sites these days. Some even question whether blogs will eventually replace conventional web sites because of their interactive nature, ease of set up and maintenance and low cost (most are free.) My own web site is inexpensive and easy to maintain, but doesn’t offer all the capabilities of my blog. I choose to have both.  Check out your options and decide what’s right for you.
  3. Twitter (Microblog)
    Twitter has enjoyed a huge amount of growth over the past year and continues to pop up in the news. I find this application easy to set up, but explaining what it is and forming a strategy for its use usually proves more challenging. ABC’s Nightline featured a short segment explaining Twitter. I offer ‘Twitter 101’ and ‘Advanced Twitter’ to help business people understand applications for its use to them. At the time of this writing, Twitter is free for both individual and business use. I try to post information relevant to businesses on my Twitter profile–follow me on Twitter for ongoing tips you can use.
  4. LinkedIn
    LinkedIn is pretty much “all business” and is probably the stuffiest and most professional of the social media sites. It functions as an online resume of sorts, allowing you to list your past experience, capabilities, etc., but also to make (and receive) recommendations from those you have done business with. The real power of LinkedIn comes not only from the contacts in your immediate sphere of influence, but also from their contacts and those contacts’ contacts as well. You can read the book, “How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn” by Eric Butow and Kathleen Taylor for  step-by-step instructions you can follow on your own. I offer training on using LinkedIn for business for those who want a more custom, hands on approach. If you would like to link to me on LinkedIn, send me an invitation.
  5. Facebook
    I’m not quite as enthusiastic about Facebook for business as I am Twitter and LinkedIn, but it’s still worthy of looking into. Again, there is no cost to participate, so perhaps it can’t hurt…  Though there are many, many social media platforms out there, these 3 are among the top in popularity. I have heard them characterized this way: “Twitter is my idea stream; LinkedIn is my electronic Rolodex and Facebook is my scrapbook.” I have also heard this comparison, “Facebook is for connecting with people you used to know; Twitter is for connecting for people you want to know.” Obviously, people you used to know can often be very, very helpful and it’s fun to connect with them–that’s probably why you knew them to begin with! In my experience, this platform has the highest potential for drawing you into the more purely “social” aspect of social media with a little less emphasis on business. Use with caution–it can be habit forming! I also offer training on ‘Facebook for Business’ to help you understand how to use it most appropriately for your intended purposes.
  6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    This topic is getting a little technical for the scope of this article, but it’s worth a mention because you can have the most fabulous looking web site in the world, but if no one knows it’s there, it won’t do you much good. In my former career, I used Google Adwords to help position my web site more favorably. There is a cost for this service, but there’s no minimum monthly requirement and you can set the budget at whatever limit is comfortable for you. Google Analytics is not SEO per se, but a free tool that you can use to get a better sense of what’s working well for your web site and is also worth  listing. The good news about some of the social media marketing solutions I have already mentioned is that using them will improve your SEO results organically anyway.
  7. Demographic Data
    I have used Quantcast.com lately to explore the demographics of various social media sites to evaluate whether a particular client would benefit from participation there. This is another free tool and may help you in selecting which sites you want to join. If you’re trying to reach 12-17 year olds, don’t overlook MySpace, as that is a very strong market segment for them; if you’re trying to reach an older audience, this will not be as strong a vehicle for you. By the way, across many sites, the average age for social media participants is trending upwards–don’t assume this is a phenomenon that applies only to teens and twenty-somethings.
  8. Twitter Third Party Applications
    I’m back to Twitter again… This is probably why I am frequently called “The Twitter Lady” rather than the much more professional sounding “Social Media Consultant.” I can’t help myself–there are some really great tools available for Twitter that keep me coming back and newly enthusiastic about its potential. Check the Twitter Fan Wiki for a seemingly ever-expanding list. I like Twtqpon for an easy to execute, professional looking coupon–worth a look if discounting is part of your business model.
  9. Google Docs
    Google Docs is another free tool with multiple uses. Basically it allows you to create, store and share documents online very easily. Last month I needed to do a PowerPoint presentation on site at a client’s location. We didn’t have a connecting cable that worked with both my laptop and their HDMI plasma TV screen monitor. Google Docs provided a good work around–I connected to the Internet and ran the presentation from my online Google Docs account instead.
  10. Promote Your Connections!
    Don’t forget to let people know where you are online. A few easy ways? Add your profile links to your email signature and your “Contact Us” page on your web site.

Good luck! Let me know how these ideas worked for you.