Friday, February 5, 2010

Social Media: Are You Plugged In?

It’s a new year…a clean slate ahead of you at work and new marketing opportunities waiting in the wings. What will 2010 have in store for you? If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to become more social media savvy, then I hope you find this article informative and useful to you in your future marketing endeavors.

Yes—You CAN!

So, maybe you’ve tested the “social media waters” in 2009 but still not sold on the whole social media idea and even if it’s something your company should attempt. Or, maybe you know the value and importance of social media, but you don’t know the right tactics to use to best fit your company. Well, now’s a better time than ever to embark on a social media campaign for your company. I write this article with the intention to inspire you to dive right in and have fun with the variety of social marketing tools available. With the numerous platforms out there, you can help your company establish a name for it, or bolster your company’s existing marketing campaign into high gear. One point I’d like to emphasize— while most social media tools are free, you may need to factor additional staff hours into your budget to get your campaign up and running.

Me, Myself and I

As the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s (PDP) e-Marketing and social media go-to gal, I’ve done my fair share of research on the various social media tools available. I also participate in countless social media webinars, many of which are free and quite informative. In less than one year, I now manage two PDP Facebook fan pages, along with a Twitter and Flickr account, and helped create a blog for Downtown’s historic Market Square. Most recently, I joined the Communications Committee within the American Marketing Association (AMA) Pittsburgh Chapter to update our Facebook fan page, blog and other marketing-related projects – I love a challenge!

Mavens, Gurus and Experts─Come Again?

Ok, so I’m not going to tout myself as some social media “guru”, simply because I’m not. However, I do consider myself an expert when it comes to writing and talking about my organization. So, now you’re armed with great material about your company and you want to spread the good word using social media—what are your next steps? Well, there’s an art to using social media correctly. I’ve assembled a short list of tips/tricks that I’ve found to be quite valuable to share with you to use throughout your social media journey:

· Information overload! If you try to learn too many social media platforms at once, you’ll go insane! Instead, take baby steps. Pick one outlet, perfect it and OWN it. Remember, you’re the voice of your organization. Try doing simple searches of your company or industry to see where your potential online audience is and what they’re talking about and start there. Once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of Facebook, give Twitter a whirl, or try your hand at blogging. It’s not how much you’re doing—it’s how effective you are at what you’re doing.

· Don’t go there! If you don’t have time to keep your blog or Facebook page updated with fresh, interesting content, worthy of comments from your readers, it’s not going to do your company any good. Readers will lose interest in your page and you’ll lose your readers loyalty to your brand/company. Just remember: why would anyone want to visit a Website with stale, uninteresting information? The same thing applies to your social media pages. If you need a quick update and don’t have a lot of time, try asking a simple question from your audience like, “What are you doing this weekend?” This keeps the content fresh and engages your fans.

· Play nice! Sure, readers want to hear what’s new with your company/product, but it’s a good rule of thumb to share others’ blog posts, etc. People will deem you a more “valuable” resource by sharing others’ ‘added’ information. It’s not always about you. And, make sure to use tact when responding to readers’ comments, especially if they have something negative to say about your company/brand. The goal is to create a lasting relationship with your readers.

· Create some buzz! A fun and highly effective element to creating a successful social media campaign is to implement various contests or trivia questions into your plan. It’s a known fact that readers thrive on interaction and love to participate in trivia games, photo hunts (think TwitPic), etc. And, when there’s an incentive offered to the winner, you’ll receive an even greater response! Think about offering a small token that promotes your brand, or award a gift certificate to a venue in your city. If you utilize Twitter, visit and type #contest in the search area to see how other companies are using the contest tactic to engage their followers.

· Analyze this! Your boss is likely to ask about the progress of your company’s social media campaign and how well it’s being received. Have no fear! There are plenty of free and easy-to-use analytics tools available to track your progress, including: Insights for Facebook fan pages, Twitter Analyzer and Google Analytics for blogs. Plus, keeping track of how many followers, fans, and comments you have is also another great way to gauge your progress. If your budget allows, you might want to consider hiring a social media professional who specializes in tailoring social media campaigns to meet the needs of your organization.

· Follow the leader! There are literally hundreds of social media professionals out there with amazing blogs and helpful tips. Here’s a short list of my favorite social media experts:

o; The Social Media “Bible” - @Mashable on Twitter

o; Social Media Business Coach - @MariSmith on Twitter

o; Mitch Joel, dubbed by Marketing Magazine as the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” - @MitchJoel on Twitter

o; World's Best Bloggers on Social Media and Web 2.0 - @socialmedia2day on Twitter

Make New Marketing Goals…But Keep the Old

While I’m a proponent of using social media to promote your business/brand, I believe your company should also continue to use the “tried and true” methods of marketing, such as print, e-mail marketing, radio/TV ads, etc. By incorporating social media, businesses both large and small have the opportunity market their brand and create additional awareness without going over their marketing budget. And, when used effectively, it’s a win-win situation for your company!

The AMA’s Connected!

Don’t forget to become a fan of the AMA Pittsburgh Chapter on Facebook at, and be sure to subscribe to our blog at We’ll be updating the AMA Blog and Facebook fan page in the coming weeks and we invite you to check out our pages and let us know what you think! We welcome your feedback and suggestions on how to make your online experience with us even better! Feel free to write to me with questions or comments at

Cheers to a happy, healthy and social media-inspired New Year!

Brooke M. Fornalczyk

Manager of e-Marketing & Promotions, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
American Marketing Association Pittsburgh Chapter - Communications Team

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