Still trying to make sense of social media? You’re not alone. So Facebook has more than
175 200 million active users. And more than six million people are microblogging through Twitter. Many businesses and organizations are taking a “watch-and-see” approach to social media marketing.
For those who want to join the online conversation, two words of advice: strategy and patience.
The Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (HPRMS) helped demystify social media at this morning’s networking event, held at the New York Times building. Attending via WebEx from Chicago, Scott Meis, senior project & social media director at Carolyn Grisko & Associates, offered a brief, but useful overview of social media. He not only shared several online resources specific to the healthcare sector, but he also gave attendees a 10-step checklist for getting started:
- Listen to the conversation. Meis recommends subscribing to news feeds like Google Alerts and Google Reader to keep up with blogs and news on topics relevant to you (or your organization).
- Assess your needs. What do you want to accomplish? Are you interested in generating leads? Engaging customers? Identify your goals and develop a social media strategy.
- Establish your target audience. We can’t be all things to all people. By speaking to a specific audience and meeting their needs, you increase your chances of making real connections.
- Join the conversation. Find three personal blogs and three professional blogs that interest you. Follow them and comment on them. Remember: Social media is about dialogue and interaction.
- Create a Facebook profile. In addition to your personal page, start a page for your organization, and update it regularly with interesting, engaging information.
- Enter the blogosphere. Blogs offer an easy way to publish information that’s relevant to your audience, and they invite engagement. The best blogs build community by sparking thoughtful conversation.
- Share with tools like Twitter and Flickr. Find an interesting resource? Share it with your Twitter followers. Retweet useful information. Post photos on Flickr, and bring your organization to life.
- Sign up for YouTube’s Nonprofit Program. Buy a shoot-and-share camcorder, and use video to share your message and build awareness for your cause. The website has excellent advice on customizing your channel and developing content.
- Protect your brand and username. Not ready to take the plunge? Reserve your brand’s URL and usernames to prevent brandjacking.
- Get going and stay active. Social media boils down to building relationships. Just as in the offline world, online connections take time to develop. Start out slowly, and be consistent. Follow the same social rules that you would in the “real” world, and you’ll see results.