Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seven Steps to "Social" Enlightenment


About a year ago, in order to learn about social media, I made myself a to-do list.  Here it is.  

1.  Build and start a blog – My first attempt was using Google Sites and then I moved here, to Blogger.  Now I’m experimenting with Wordpress.  These easily accessible and free tools enabled me to understand many of the technical aspects like hosting and connectivity; embrace design obstacles; and learn the basic how-to’s like purchasing URL’s.  Something I wasn’t expecting though was that blogging has challenged me to create original content on a regular basis (okay well a fairly regular basis) and gain insight on how the social web works.  
 
2.  Build a case study file – I’ve always kept a large black portfolio which contains mementos of my marketing projects.  It is full of tear sheets, brochures, letters, commercials, pivot tables, plan summaries and financial results.  My hope is to add the details of my social media exploits to this archive some day soon.  But right now I’m collecting case studies authored by other marketers because understanding the logic and the tactics behind successful campaigns is the key to building my own.  

3.  Network – I have a shy streak and am still somewhat cautious about my “social knowledge” but I know that to be considered “socially” competent, I need to associate with and learn from people who have leverage in the industry.  So I’ve been attending industry conferences, going to local meet-ups and building my network.  Twitter helps with this objective because I follow information leaders like Adam SingerLinkedIn is another good tool that connects me with the people I meet.  Networking ties well into my job search, and helps me personally and professionally.  

4.  Make personal friends in the industry – This is an off shoot of networking and I do have a few industry friends with whom I can share ideas and get input.  They keep me motivated and on target.  I want to grow this list so get in touch. 

5.  Improve my personal search standing (SEO) - This has been fairly easy because my name isn’t that popular.  If you happen to be Mary Smith, it may not be, but don’t be dissuaded. Work to get your name ranked in the engines.  Inevitably someone is going to type your name into Google or Yahoo.  You really want to be first in the results or at the very least on page 1 somewhere.  A by-product of this is that you’ll gain, experience with organic search which is a key element in marketing successfully on the web.  

6.  Learn web based analytics – I've discovered that this is a basic requirement of today’s marketers.  I had a leg up since financial analysis is the life bread of effective direct marketing, a tool I used to drive acquisition sales for one company from $800K to $6M.  So I was already fluent in conducting research, interpreting analytics and using the data for actionable next steps.  I just needed to learn what and how data is measured on the web.  Even if you're not a math lover, you'll appreciate the reward having this skill engenders as there's nothing more powerful than possessing the financial results that support your great idea.

7.  Keep on top of communication trends – Today, technology is driving changes daily in communication trends, and to be an effective marketer, I want to stay on top of that change.  The only way is to embrace it.  It’s an intellectual marathon of reading case studies, industry trades, and relevant blogs, while attending industry events, conferences and webinars.  The most challenging part for me continues to be finding a way to stay in front of all that information.  My current system, which includes Google Reader and Alerts, needs improvement.  Ideas welcome. 
 
I’m sure there’s more but that's my list.  What else do you think marketers, like you and me, can do to learn these new tools and position ourselves for future success?