I am fond of saying “everything you need to know about social marketing, you learned in kindergarten.” True, this is an over simplification of social media marketing, or is it? The social media revolution is less about large-scale marketing objectives and more about personalization and intimacy.  YOU might not feel that way about social media, but active users of social media feel that way, so you should pay attention to the culture of social media and incorporate it into your action plan. But before you create an action plan, create your online identity.

Your online identity should be about your brand as much as it is about your clients. There are three simple steps you take AT ANY TIME to create or reassess our social media voice.

1) LISTEN: So many businesses ignore this step, and yet its one of the most important. Systematically, develop a system to start listening. Begin with a baseline understanding of who is online and what’s important to them. This will help you develop your campaign. Once you have an understanding of who is important and what they feel is important, start engaging key influencers about what is important to THEM.

DO: Start following your competitors, your potential clients or customers.  Whether these be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other online forums, you should be watching and listening to conversations.

DO: Create a spreadsheet: What makes them happy? What makes them scared? What are they saying about companies like yours? What are they passionate about? WHO and WHAT inspires them to act and at what level? This spreadsheet will come in handy and help you identify your audience and strategy.

DO: Use this information to develop your voice and determine what types of information you will be sharing with your followers.

DON’T: Assume that you know your social media audience. Yet.

2) ENGAGE:

This is the “WIFM” (What’s in it for me) stage. Be a resource, a ray of sunshine. Be useful, personable and helpful or wither.

DO: Develop a relationship. This is where you start to employ what I call “Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn Karma” look for opportunities to support influencers in their objectives and you’ll find opportunities for them to support you.

DO: Share information that your followers might like knowing about that ISN’T self promotional. You might RT, you might share a relevant article. When you share, you encourage conversations.

DO: Reply. Answer. Ask. Track your mentions and DM’s. Respond within a reasonable time frame. If your business isn’t going to available during certain times, let your followers know you’ll get back to them.

DON’T: Use ANY social media medium as an advertising platform, you won’t inspire or engage if your only messages are self promotional. Engagement can take on many forms, but all are personal and “non-spammy”.

DON’T: Ignore the negative. Almost everyone asks me about this: “What if we get there and find out people are saying negative things about our company?” This is the marketing equivalent to “If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it really happen?” These conversations are already happening about your company, now you have the chance to hear them and most importantly, ACT on them.

DON’T: Assume that everyone with a big following is your target. You may be surprised to find out that influencers in your target group don’t always have the largest following.  For example, you may find that a particular blogger has a passionate following of 2,000 people. The key is passionate, do they engage with the blogger and does the blogger engage back? That follower is much more relevant than a person who has 10,000 followers and ignores everyone of them.

3) BE YOURSELF: Develop a voice consistent with your brand, but don’t be afraid to show a little personality. This personality aspect is why the people actually DOING your engagement should have EXCELLENT judgment. Its a fine line between “being a person” and TMI.

DO: Personalize the information you share. Tell them why YOU love it, like it or hate it.

DO: Identify what makes you special, and share that with your clients. For example, I have clients all over the country, but I live in Hawaii. For many of them, that’s exciting and interesting so I often share Hawaii hotel specials or airline specials with my audience.

DO: Have fun.