Like any mountain you’ve got to climb, it’s always best to take one step at a time with a reliable route to follow. That way you won’t stumble off the path and waste time trying to get to your goal, and this is very much our approach with the Social media aspect of marketing. There are thousands of sites out there that you can subscribe to and try and ‘work out what they do and how they do it’ but before long, what started out as a very productive exercise just wasted your whole day.

So how can you take advantage of what is becoming the new way to market to your audience?

Well, there is no use just stabbing in the dark, you do have to put together a strategy to make the best use of the sites that will be the optimum ones for you. If you think about it, any ‘collaborative’ website is only as good as the number of people that subscribe to it. After all, you don’t want to be sending out lots of good content if no-one is listening, also the networks need to be credible. You too will want to follow the experts in your field so you will need to do some research to find the Social Networks that they are on and make sure you subscribe. These may vary depending on your expertise and interests.

What do we recommend as a general starting point for Social Networks?

Well, the most popular social networking sites are as good as any to get you going. As a starting point, Linkedin is probably the best ‘business network’ that is around at the moment.  Gaining ground very rapidly is Twitter, this micro-blogging platform is sweeping the nation and is perfect for posting out quick messages to your followers. Don’t underestimate Facebook, a lot of people still think that this is for ‘Socialising only’ but with the introduction of their business pages, this too has turned into a very valuable tool.

Before you get started on these three sites, there are some considerations

1) Do you want to promote you or your company?
2) How do you want to present yourself, formally or informally?
3) What is the overriding message that you want to send, make sure it’s something you can stick to and deliver!

Once you have worked out your messaging now is the time to create your accounts and profiles – these are crucial and should convey the essence of your brand. We advise that you create yourself a ‘social media worksheet’ so that you list all the sites you subscribe to. Then detail how you use that site, information about that site (is it niche or general, how many users, reality), your username and password (believe me you’ll need some memory jogger). You might want to put into a column when you last updated that network and what keywords and profile descriptions are associated.

You might think that this sounds like a lot of work, in reality, it is just to get you started, but if your foundations are right its easier to keep up-to-date with everything thats happening so that you get a holistic view of your Internet Landscape.

Managing multiple social networks will become hard work to remember to do unless you’re lucky enough to have a virtual assistant that can do it for you. However there are lots of tools out there that can help save you time as they post in mutliple places for you

Our Favourites are:

Gravatar : Upload you image once and it follows you around every network that requires a photo (neat if you like to change your photo a lot)
Twitterfeed: You can automatically send you blogposts to Twitter without doing anything – just great

Now is time for you to ‘get involved’, will spend more time on this later, but for now we suggest that you spend a little bit of time listening and understanding what happens on these networks before jumping in with both feet.

But our last piece of advice, once ready  – Don’t be a spectactor – partake… like anything in life you’ll only get out what you put it!