Social Media 101 – My First Lesson

11 September 2008

I just attended an OCRI Zone5ive presentation by Alec Saunders entitled “The Social Media Toolbox”.  I found it to be very informative and thought I share the key points I took away from it.  Please excuse the bullet points:  (Alec’s presentation slides can be found here.)

  • Social media is all about brands having conversations with customers.  A blog is a type of brand and publication rolled into one and the two give you a pulpit from which you can send out a message.
  • Blogs are automatically search-engine optimized.  The reasons relate to the web of links that the blog generates on its own, the sheer number of pages in the blog and links from other bloggers linking back.  In many cases, blogs outrank corporate sites in search results because of this.  Saunders gave several examples where his blog was top ranked over major corporations.  A funny one was based on a hidden page advertising some extra space in a time-share he had available.  Search Google for “Cancun resort rentals” – his blog is second.
  • The blog doesn’t get noticed overnight.  It takes lots of work and time – over 5 months – to get results.  What is involved?  About two to three hours a day.  In particular: 
    • Write often – up to three posts a day
    • Write meaty stuff – make it interesting and worthwhile to read
    • Be controversial – blandness is boring
    • Participate in the conversation
    • Ask for link love (referal links) from other bloggers
    • Comment on other blogs
    • Keep a blog roll
    • Love your friends
  • Use a good blog site. There are many.  Then:
    • Set up a good top-level domain
    • Add a google site map to aid google to catalog your site.
    • Give your posts good titles that will attract readers.
    • Use links and tracebacks
    • Tag, tag and tag the posts
    • Syndicate the posts with
      • RSS feedburners
      • Other blogs
      • Blog widgets
      • Content gathers such as Newstex.

While blogging is free, the downside is the time required to make it all work.  For established companies, there is a cost/benefit trade-off as the blogging effort is substantial and has a cost associated with it.  For start-ups, however, the benefits of the marketing that can be generated from a blog are worth the effort and I’d suggest that start-ups start blogging from day one.  By the time the product is ready, your blog will be a well tuned marketing machine.

More on the other social media tools will follow.