Building a social media strategy for your new business, starting at WordPress, ending at success :)

Building a social media strategy for your new business, starting at WordPress, ending at success :)

So a friend (in the PR field) recently asked me about how they might put together a social media strategy for a client they were working with that’s launching an interesting, and controversial, iphone app.

And so I figured, what better way to share my thoughts on how to approach this side of marketing than here, and through the medium of starting with WordPress – as really, WordPress is at the very bottom of your pyramid… but can be linked all the way up.

But first, the big question:

What on earth is a social media really?

Well, in my book, social media isn’t really the ‘web’ per se – it’s actually that very specific side of the web that lets you hook into your readers/users, and then hook into them a bit more, starting with blogs, progressing through rss and email, clicking in with Twitter and topping out with Facebook.

So, why this split, well:

  • Blogs are basically publishing tools, sure you have comments and RSS feeds and all that, but apart from the rare exception blog rarely experience much in the way of social interaction – and most importantly there’s nothing that really ties a reader to an average blog… here one day gone the next, and after all RSS is pretty much dead in the water, which is why you see an insane amount of promotion on blogs of …

  • Emails, and specifically email lists – because once you have someone on an email list you can communicate to them moreorless whenever you want, unless they unsubscribe of course, but email is fundamentally limited by the fact that it’s largely ‘one way’ and there’s no easy way for your recipients to share, promote or interact with your stuff.

  • Which is where Twitter comes in, because of course it’s insanely easy to push your communications to followers in easy bite-sized portions and then see them retweet, comment on and interact with you in a public sense… namely meaning in a way that is visible to other people and thus attracts you more attention.

  • Which is nothing, however, compared to the granddaddy of them all, namely Facebook, of course, because  of a whole bunch of things that make it much more likely for people to easily get stuck to (heck it just takes a like click, no double opt in there), share (that like just got shared to all your friends) and then repost (all it takes is another like) their content with a group of people that presumably actually trust and like them (something which you can’t say about Twitter). So yeh, Facebook rocks.

How do you get your social media marketing underway?

This is where WordPress comes in, because the first thing you need to get going with this is really simple. Content.

And not just any old content, you’ve got to be able to publish, on a regular basis content that is:

  • Interesting and engaging enough for people to want to read it
  • Frequent enough that you are constantly keeping people engaged with ya
  • Dramatic, weird and/or catchy enough (think tabloid!) to agitate / stimulate people enough to want to share it around
  • Helpful, informative, valuable to people (like I’m hoping this post might be, oh go on, do share it :)
  • And obviously, bloody well written

So, clearly that starts with a blog, so you’ll be needing WordPress for that.

And then you need to make sure that your blog is capturing emails, twitter followers and Facebook likes

I mean, check out the bottom of this post, where the comments might usually be.

Oh, ok, here’s what it looks like :)

When we introduced the redesign we bumped bounce rates up by 15-20%, something that would leave the average publication in shock and despair, but you know where they were going (besides to the somewhat extensive WPMU DEV products advertised everywhere) – they were off too our Facebook and Twitter pages too, and we’ve been picking up ~100 new Facebook followers every week since that, as opposed to 30 or 40 or similar.

Of course you can also use a pop up plugin to capture users onto a mailing list too, or get them following you on Twitter or similar… it’s ugly but it works.

But the main thing is that you need to fight to get every reader you receive into that email / twitter / facebook zone that you can.

Because then you’ll be keeping and engaging them with your excellent posts :)

But, is there an easy way, I want more email subscribers, twitter followers and Facebook fans right now without having to write for a year!!!

Heh, ok, there are *some* tricks, you can use, here’s a few that we’ve employed:

  • Give them a reason to ‘Like’ / ‘Follow’ ya, for example we hand out a free annual account to a Facebook likee every month!
  • Set up a great welcome page that gets people to like you, like our Edublogs one
  • Spend a decent portion of your day searching live for related keywords to your products and engaging with the tweeters… this will work better than anything
  • Do some autofollowing of keyword related accounts on Twitter using something like Tweetspinner
  • Run a contest where to enter you need to follow your account and Tweet a certain hashtag
  • And there are no shortage of other strategies too :)

But the really important thing is that you need to keep on pumping out the quality content, the helpfulness, the interaction and engagement and all of that – or it’s all for naught.

And so now I have them, how do I get them to do my will [evil cackle]

Well, here’s the fun bit, you can be as popular as you want but how do you then get these guys to actually use and buy your products… that ’tis the question!

Hopefully, of course, the intrinsic wonderfulness of whatever it is you are pushing speaks for itself, but if it doesn’t there are ways and means you can get your newfound posse to help you spread the good word:

  • Do some review contests, so ask people to review stuff that you offer in return for whatever you think they might like (cash more product or similar) – as you may or may not have noticed we’re running one of those right now.
  • Run an awards, of some description, your new fanbase will thoroughly enjoy it – just like WP Candy got great promotion for the WP Honors or Edublogs did for the Edublogs Awards (man that was a long time ago)
  • Start a really generous affiliate program, there’s a plugin or that too you know – now you have followers and people to communicate to, this stands a much, much greater chance of success than it did when you were waiting for them to come to you (no mention of the minions though ;)
  • Cross promote with other providers – you’ve got an audience, so have they, they want access to yours, and you want access to theirs… win win!
  • And so on and so forth

But the main takeaway is that if you didn’t have the content, and didn’t have the integration of the content with the social  media, and then didn’t have the audience – all of the above would be either a waste of space or a very, very boring, ineffective and expensive advertising campaign.

So go social it up :)

Would love to know any more tips or experiences you guys might have!