In the second part of our guide on social media marketing (the first part was published yesterday), we look at some more of the basics that you should consider when deploying your strategy.

4.      It’s not all about you

One of the key mistakes that many companies make when designing a website is talking all about the business on the front page. “We are a family run business established in 1924 and with stores in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds” is of little interest to your average website visitor, nor does it answer the number 1 question any site visitor asks on entering a web site – WIIFM – What’s In It For Me, or “Why am I here?”

As well as on your website, you need to get into your customer’s head and learn what it is they are looking for from the social media tools they are using. You need to learn about the customer, and whilst you can use profiling, it is far more productive and profitable to build personal relationships with your customers than to randomly sample a selection of users and guess the profile of your audience.  Listen carefully to all that is being said to and about you, positive and negative, and react to it.

Many companies hesitate to mention both competitive and complementary websites, products, services, commentators, bloggers, and so on, and yet it is by accrediting, mentioning and recommending others that you not only build your reputation, but you extend your influence within your own industry or sector, as well as to your audience.

Offering valuable advice, even when it has not originated from you, may help out your customers in ways which you could not imagine. And a percentage of those who it helps will remember that it was you who led them to what they were seeking.

5.      It’s not all about numbers

“Get 10,000 Twitter followers in a month”.  If those type of figures are what you think matters when implementing a social media strategy, you are already on the wrong path. Whilst it is important to reach the maximum audience, and work on increasing that audience every day, it is not the numbers which matter as much as hitting the right people with your key messages. Quality rather than quantity.

Put up an offer or competition for a free iPad and your Twitter followers will rise tenfold per hour. However, very few of these will be there because they are interested in your products and services. Hence, these type of followers are of little use to you. You should always seek to add new members to your audience at every opportunity, but each incremental increase of committed followers will be worth far more than seeking to garner a larger audience simply because the numbers look good.

Keep an eye on your score to measure how your influence is extending slowly but surely, and accept the advice given in the score analysis.  Track your stats and make sure you are using the right tools, but don’t get so lost in analytics that you don’t have time to talk!

6.      It’s not all about money

Throwing money at solutions, or worrying about value for money, is not always the most appropriate or effective method of increasing your influence / followers / friends etc, and it is often valuable to take a step back from your budget’s bottom line when gauging how your social media strategy is working.

It is a well-known fact that you may need at least 7 marketing or advertising approaches before a potential customer bites, and it may be that you need to adopt seemingly loss-leading tactics before the payback occurs. In addition, guerrilla, viral or low cost techniques may actually have longer term positive benefits than flashy, expensive internet marketing solutions.

7.      And Finally, Be You

Whether you are a global brand or a small one man band, develop a personality. Be quirky, humorous, bend over backwards helpful, driven by quality, unassuming, or whatever suits your company. Be it consistently and apply it to all of your marketing and business relationships, on and offline.

It is important to employ the right people to run the public front of your social media strategy, and involve your team to help to develop your responses across all channels so that they are consistent. And listen to suggestions from all employees – you never know what they do in their free time, and one of them may turn out to be an expert in an aspect of social media that could catapult you ahead of your competitors.

Choose your social media tools carefully. For instance, if constantly updating your audience isn’t your thing, then you can avoid upsetting your audience by being quiet or “Missing in action” for lengthy amounts of time by blogging, sending out newsletters, setting up an RSS feed and so on, rather than using Twitter, Tumblr etc. If you are naturally sociable, and use the microblogging and real time update tools, then try not to overwhelm your customers with minute by minute updates throughout the day.

However you choose to engage during 2011 with social media (including mobile marketing), learn from your mistakes, learn from others, share, talk and engage.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology