26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing

Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com


Have you noticed more photos on social networks?

Do you have a visual component as part of your social media marketing strategy?

Do you need some help in getting started or maintaining momentum in sharing more visual content and in creating a visual conversation with your audience?

In this post, you’ll find 26 tips, an A-Z guide, for getting started with a visual strategy.

#1: Add Text to Your Photos

Do you want to get more mileage out of the photos you share on your social sites? You can, when you add text to your images.

Adding text to a photo can help you get your message across faster. And these messages are more likely to be shared by others on social media.

Add text to images to heighten the message.

Do you want to find some easy tools to include text in the photos you share on social media? Check out the photo editors in #4 below.

#2: Break Through the Clutter

There’s a lot of content out there vying for our attention. As Krista Neher suggests, “Optimize your social content to break through the clutter with images. Most leading businesses are making use of images in their content on all social networks. Your Facebook, Twitter, blog and even LinkedIn strategies should include images.”

Visuals will help break through the clutter.

Consider varying the types of content you share on your social channels and be sure to include photos and other forms of visual content to keep your readers interested.

#3: Create a Collage

When you have several great images to choose from and can’t decide, why not create a collage? Here are some instructions for how to make a collage with PicMonkey and other free collage-making tools.

PicMonkey was used to make this collage of Social Media Examiner images.

Collages communicate a number of brand messages and offer a simple yet effective way to engage users. Think about your different social media outlets and see if there are places where a collage would work well for you.

#4: Desktop Photo Editors

Is the photo you have perfect for your needs? Or does it need some editing?

There are many paid and free options for desktop photo editors on Mac and PCs to help you crop, resize, enhance, add text and more.

Screenshot from the Mac App Store’s selection of photo editors.

Photo editing apps have come a long way over the years. Years back, the average user may have felt that editing was out of their league completely but programs have made it possible to make quick and easy edits that strengthen a photo andcreate a better overall image of your business.

#5: Encourage People to Share Photos With Your Business

The photo-sharing tools available today provide companies another communication avenue with their audience.

One fun way to get users to submit photos is to make it part of a contest that you’re sponsoring.

Example from Nestle Kitchen All Things Chocolate Contest on Facebook.

Users enjoy sharing photos. And contests help businesses reach out to their users in a creative way, while at the same time making it possible to gather a large crowdsourced photo library of images related to your products.

#6: Facebook Covers

The cover photos for Facebook give you a lot of real estate (specifically 851 x 315 px) to demonstrate visually what your business is about. There are a number ofgreat resources to help you create cool Facebook cover photos.

Cover photo from Starbucks’ Facebook Page.

Create an inviting Facebook cover and don’t be afraid to change it periodically. For example, Starbucks currently has a photo album of 25 cover photos and may choose to profile one that shows a new drink or holiday theme.  The photo used above was replaced by another photo within one week.

#7: Generate Leads With Facebook Photos

Companies are finding that they can generate more followers and leads by posting a high percentage of photos on social sites.

Some of the brands with largest followings on Facebook have posted an impressive number of timeline photos; for example, Coca Cola 6,459 photos, Oreo 2,359 and Red Bull 5,299. And consider these Facebook facts, “Photos get 7 times more likes and 10 times more shares than links.”

People love Facebook updates that contain visuals. Brands of all sizes are beginning to use more and more.

Do you know what type of visuals will work for your business? Or are you struggling to keep up a good momentum? Think about visuals as part of your strategyand allocate time to brainstorm and create a library you can tap into over the next week, month or even longer.

#8: How-to Images

Sometimes photos can make things simple for your audience. What does your audience struggle with?

Photos are a powerful way to show your readers a step-by-step guide on how to carry out specific tasks.

From WikiHow, example of how to use Instagram.

Users respond well when you show how to carry out a task that may otherwise seem complex to them, even with simple screenshots.

#9: Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly (from Wikipedia). Users love them and they’re shared often on social sites.

There are a number of tools to help you create your own infographic.

Example from Wikipedia: Infographics.

Of course, yours may not be as intricate as the one above of the Metrorail, but taking a number of facts from a few studies and showing them visually may help to effectively communicate information and capture the attention of a user who may otherwise not have the time to read long reports.

#10: Just the Facts

Are there any other ways you can use visual content? There are times when a simple chart or visualization will help drive home the facts.

Example from Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012 .

Writers are often told to “show, don’t tell” and a simple visual representation of the information can do this well. For marketers, charts and illustrations can be very effective tools—for example, seeing the difference between percentages can give users a better picture of the significance of the statistics.

#11: Keep Landing Pages Simple

Many components of your marketing collateral can benefit with strong visuals, including landing pages.

Randi Lucius writes, “Have clear, relevant images—either of the product or something closely related. Don’t overdo it though—usually a large banner image is sufficient.”

Talk about what separates you from the competition.

The visual may be part of the message and it’s an important one. A distorted or out of proportion photo can even subliminally create a poor image of a business and their products and services.

#12: Lettered Quotes

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings worked with illustrator Wendy MacNaughton to create this amazing illustrated description of Susan Sontag and art.

A combination of words and illustration makes this visual highly eye-catching and memorable.

This type of image can help communicate a lot of information; for example, who you are, the benefits of your products and services, mission statements and how prospects can reach you.

#13: Make Certain Every Blog Post Has at Least One Pinnable Image

Pinterest is a fantastic way to have your posts shared with an even wider audience. When someone selects Pin It, they will see the image choices for  your article. Terry League suggests you make sure every post has at least one pinnable image.

The pin bookmarklet is an easy process for users to share articles on Pinterest.

Even while I’m in the process of writing this article, you can get the idea of what users would see if they tried to pin this post:

Example of some of the pinnable images in this post so far!

Pinterest has made sharing images incredibly easy and fun. An image pinned on Pinterest may help tap into users who may not have come across your blog post through other channels.

#14: Notetaking Visually

Wesley Fryer describes visual notetaking as a “process of representing ideas non-linguistically… visual notetaking can include concept mapping, but also more artistic ways of visually capturing and representing ideas.” Image below from Leo Babauta.

Example from The Map of Distractions and Focus by Leo Babauta.

Some people learn better visually than through the written word. When done well, visual notetaking is an effective communication tool and can also be a fun resource to take users on a journey with you.

#15: Optimize Images

JC Parmley emphasizes it is important that your images are properly optimized without sacrificing too much of the quality.

Optimize without losing image quality.

Your blog may also have specific dimensions for images, yet just resizing to fit within those dimensions may do the visual a disservice. There are times when one image works better than another—train your eye to recognize the difference.

#16: Photo Ideas

There are times when you may feel at a loss for how to create more exciting original photosAnjelika Paranjpe provides some wonderful creative ideas represented below.

And keep in mind too that Instagram filters and a host of other mobile phone apps will provide a number of ways to make an ordinary photo look more unique.

Look for ideas to spark your photo creativity.

There are photos and there are photos. What draws you in? What makes you take a little extra time looking at an image? What feelings does the photo evoke? Users are making those types of conscious and unconscious decisions every day. How can your images stand out and stand the test of time?

#17: Quotes Are Highly Shareable

The sharing of quotes on social sites has also increased in the past year.  There are a number of tools to create quotes from something you’ve read online and even your own articles.

To make this quote, I used Quote with Quizio on my browser’s toolbar, highlighted the text I wanted to use and then was presented with choices for fonts, background color and attribution.

Step 1:

Highlighting the text you want to quote helps make a great visual from the written word.

Step 2:

You can create the look for your visual with a few easy selections.

Quotes have a way of generating a sense of authority and make readers take notice of a statement that could easily get lost.

#18: Reviews as Images

Positive reviews can go a long way. Why not take a screenshot of a review and save it as an image to include on your social sites?

Share customer reviews on social sites.

Reviews can be spread out and shared on different pages. Some users may not be inclined to see a review on Yelp, for instance, but posting it on your Facebook Page can ensure that more followers will see it.

#19: Stock Photos

Kevin Mullett‘s list of stock photography sites demonstrates that there’s no shortage of companies to choose from. Some stock photography sites offer a free image on a regular basis. And if it works for your business, how perfect!

Here’s a recent offering from iStockPhoto that had been promoted on their Facebook Page.

Example of a free stock photograph. What can be bad?

Some businesses may find that opening an account with one stock photo company that has images that speak to their audience works well. And others may choose to vary the sources. Allocating time to find applicable images will be an important step in your visual social media marketing strategy.

#20: Try to Make Your Visual’s Filename a Good Description of the Subject Matter

As Google writes, “my-new-black-kitten.jpg is a lot more informative than IMG00023.JPG. Descriptive filenames can also be useful to users. If we’re unable to find suitable text on the page where we found the image, we’ll use the filename as the image’s snippet in our search results.”

The name of this video on the New York Times website included Willy Burnett’s name and that it was from an article.

Naming an image may take a little extra time in preparing it to publish, but it will be well worth the extra effort!

#21: User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) covers a range of media content. National Geographicis a great example of a site that asks for photos from their audience in the column, “Your Shot.”

Readers submit their photos to “Your Shot” on National Geographic’s website.

How can you solicit creative ways for users to submit photos of them using your products or services?

#22: Visual Content Types

While it would have worked well to have covered video for the letter “V,” I wanted to be sure to include at least mention of a couple of other types of visual content that Maria Pergolino and Jason Lankow point out in their presentation—namely, comics and memes (an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture [from Wikipedia]).

There are many visual content types to choose from. Mix them up!

The Old Spice Guy is an example of a highly successful meme.

For video, there are a number of good articles on Social Media Examiner including this one by Cindy King with 29 Tips from Social Media Examiner writers.

Use a variety of visual content to strengthen your visual social media marketing strategy.

#23: Word Photos

I have to admit, I’ve always been very drawn to these word photos. Why not take a great image and see how it looks generated in words?

The app WordFoto was used to create this word photo.

Carefully selected photos and words are a win-win—communicating visually and with words all at the same time.

#24: e(X)treme Close-Ups

There are close-ups and then there are extreme close-ups: “tightly framed and shown at a relatively large scale.” Extreme close-ups are dramatic and can capture and hold a user’s attention.

In this extreme close-up from from a photo contest on BetterPhoto.com you can almost feel the bristles on the brush.

Extreme close-ups can be quite beautiful and help your audience see the details they may have missed in a regular close-up.

#25: Your Big Moments

You’re proud of your accomplishments and you should be. So why not show your big moments? The award, the handshake. It’s very compelling.

Example from Smart CEO 100.

This kind of image helps spread the word about your accomplishments and is a good example of visual brand storytelling.

#26: Zoom In to Engage Users

Good short videos can say a lot about your business. And zooming in is a great way tobring attention to a particular product, service or point you want to draw your audience to.

Zooming in takes control and literally puts a subject in the viewer’s face.

What do you want to emphasize to prospective and existing customers?  Zooming in helps represent visually what’s important, while also distinguishing important features and aspects of a business.

Using more visual content

In the past year, there’s been an increase in the use of visuals across social sites, and for good reasons. As Ekaterina Walter writes, “Brands can use visual content on their social media to increase engagement and inspire sharing and viral marketing.”

21 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros

Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com


Are you struggling to keep up to date with the best social media marketing tips?

Would you like to know how to get the best results with your social media marketing?

We asked twenty-one social media marketing experts to share their best social media tips today.

Here’s what they had to say.

#1: Attract Leads With Facebook Offers

amy porterfieldAmy Porterfield

If you’re looking for a new way to attract quality leads using social media, try Facebook Offers.

Facebook Offers are a type of Facebook ad, but they work a bit differently than a traditional Facebook Ad. You can set them up directly from your Facebook Page (no need to go into the Ads dashboard) and they can be created for offline and online businesses.

Although you can use them for many different promotions, I’ve seen the highest conversion rates when marketers use Offers to attract quality leads.

juice offerHere’s an example of a lead generating Facebook Offer.

Here’s why they work:

  1. Offers are promoted in the news feed (as opposed to being placed in the right-hand column on Facebook where you usually see marketplace ads).
  2. Ads in the news feed can get up to six times more engagement than ads in the right-hand column on Facebook.
  3. You can hyper-target your Offers to ensure that only the Facebook users who will have a genuine interest in your brand see them.
  4. When a user clicks on your Offer in the news feed, Facebook sends that user an email to their personal email account outside of Facebook. That means that your Offer is not only seen on Facebook, but now you are getting into the email boxes of interested prospects.
  5. When prospects open their email, they will see a link to your website or an opt-in page (wherever you choose to send people to claim your offer).

See how powerful Facebook Offers can be? Not only do you get optimal exposure in the news feed, you also get into personal email boxes and you can hyper-target each Offer. The way I see it, Facebook Offers are a triple threat!

Amy Porterfield, social media strategist, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

#2: Use Social Media to Engage With Your Email Subscribers

melanie duncanMelanie Duncan

The best social media marketing tip that I have for businesses is touse social media to engage with your email subscribers.

I can’t take total credit for it—it’s a concept that I heard at the Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Francisco. You see, everyone is trying to use social media to get new leads, which you definitely can do, but not enough business owners are using social media to build lasting and profitable relationships with their current subscribers.

You probably don’t want to email your list every day, but you likely want to stay top of mind and connect with them on a daily basis somehow. Social media is the perfect solution!

subscribe via email istock 15899912Use social media to build lasting and profitable relationships with your current subscribers. Image source: iStockphoto

I suggest putting an email in your autoresponder and invite your new subscribers to follow you on Pinterest, or like your Facebook Page, and then remember to tell them WHY.

Do you host exclusive promotions and contests on your Page? Will they have access to information that you don’t share anywhere else? Make it worth their while and watch your business and your bank account flourish.

Remember, when it comes to your audience, you want quality over quantity.

Melanie Duncan, a serial entrepreneur, owns a successful apparel and home décor ecommerce business and teaches other entrepreneurs how they can get more traffic and sales with Pinterest.

#3: Combine Your Marketing Channels

brian carter bio picBrian Carter

My biggest tip is strategic: combine all the best of digital marketing for what I call your “Perpetual (Pro)motion Machine.”

If you use SEO, organic social media, search advertising, social advertising and Google remarketing ads, then you’re doing the best of everything.

You’re raising awareness for new business via Facebook, you’re getting the low-hanging fruit of buying-intent keywords via Google, and you’re making sure that people who’ve been to your site keep seeing you via Google remarketing and your Facebook fan base.

pertpetual promotion machineThe “Perpetual (Pro)motion Machine.”

Also, most companies’ analytics are incomplete. They usually make Google look better than it really is and Facebook look worse than it really is. So allocate some money to raise awareness via Facebook as a best practice. Win the war at the mindshare and awareness level, not just at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Brian Carter, develops strategies and builds social marketing fan bases for companies of all sizes, and is the author of The Like Economy.

#4: Create a LinkedIn Company Page

viveka von rosenViveka Von Rosen

If you don’t have your company page up on LinkedIn yet, what are you waiting for?

LinkedIn Company Pages are not only a great way to get more branding for your business, but they are also an excellent way toreach your target market on LinkedIn.

Many business owners and executives like to keep a more private profile on LinkedIn, but would also like exposure for their company.

company profileGet exposure and target your products and services.

LinkedIn Company Pages are the way to do that. You can grow your company following as large as you want, regardless of the size of your personal network. If you have employees, they can also become administrators of your page and help you promote and manage it, thereby exponentially increasing its visibility.

You can also target your updates and services and products to a specific market. This allows you to craft a message and a presence specific to your different audiences. If someone comes to your Company Page from the financial, legal, medical or marketing industry, you can customize your message to speak directly to them.

Not only that, but you can create “click-through” banners to entice your target market over to your website, sales page, commerce site or other social media sites. And it’s free!

company profileAdd video, documents and pictures to your Company Page.

And you can add video, documents and pictures to your company page too!

So if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page yet, what are you waiting for? And if you do, now’s the time to refocus it to target exactly the people you are hoping to do business with.

Viveka von Rosen, known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert,” author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.

#5: Identify Your Outcomes

ric dragonRic Dragon

When we talk about the best thing to do in social media marketing for any given business, we have to begin with what that business is trying to achieve—its “desired outcomes.”

The best thing for a manufacturer of underarm deodorant is likely to be something quite different from what might be best for a company that tests those same products.

Before you go jumping into one platform or another, imagine what it would require for you or the company to go out and buy a $1,000 bottle of champagne and share it with the team. That’s your “1K Champagne Result.”

stock photo 11160909 champagneStart thinking about your 1K Champagne Results. Image source: iStockphoto

The next part of the puzzle is to understand that not all social media efforts are the same. There are some really big differences in approaches, and thus outcomes. The five big approaches are:

  • Brand maintenance—monitor your channels and respond when appropriate, and perhaps post a bit here and there.
  • Community-building—whether it’s internal advocates, external brand ambassadors or groups of people who share the underlying passions of the brand, in this work you endeavor to join and nurture community.
  • Influencer outreach—identify and engage the people who are influential around your passion points or industry.
  • Reputation management and development—the project wherein you eitherrepair or develop thought leadership or positive reputation.
  • The big splash—these are the big creative campaigns that garner a lot of short-term attention.

You might very well decide on a mix of these five approaches. If you start by thinking about your 1K Champagne Results, you can more easily line up your big approaches with whatever it is that’s going to make that cork go flying across the room.

Ric Dragon, co-founder and CEO of DragonSearch, author of Social Marketology and DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual.

#6: Become the Wikipedia of Your Industry

marcus sheridanMarcus Sheridan

Over the last couple of years, a very interesting shift has occurred with each and every one of us who use the Internet. And what is this shift?

We’ve all grown incredibly impatient online.

In other words, if we go to a business’s website, and we can’t find what we’re looking for, it bothers us. We get frustrated quickly. And unlike a few years ago when we might have “hung around” to try to find the answers we were looking for, we now move on quickly—knowing that if we keep searching, we’ll eventually find a website that has the answer(s) we seek.

Interestingly enough, although we’ve all grown more impatient when it comes to websites that don’t bother giving us the answers we’re looking for, we’ve also grown more loyal once we stumble upon the information jackpot.

Basically, if we feel a website is a true “go-to source” for information and answers, we’ll keep coming back—again and again and again.

It’s for this reason that the best social media strategy any company can take in 2013 and beyond is to become a true teacher (Wikipedia) within their industry. The golden rule of marketing is this:

They ask, you answer.

In other words, if a consumer has ever asked a question, you should be answering it on your website. And considering most industries have literally thousands of potential consumer questions, content should always be growing, evolving and added to.

yale steveAfter owner Steve Sheinkopf followed the “They Ask, You Answer” strategy for his company’s content marketing approach in 2012, the Boston-based business Yale Appliance watched their web traffic, along with sales, explode.

With the average business website answering about 10 consumer questions, if a company is willing to follow the “They Ask, You Answer” mentality, amazing results will often occur. The brand will grow. Traffic on the site will increase. And above all else, sales will likely have a huge upturn.

Marcus Sheridan, co-owner of River Pools and Spas, the founder of PoolSchool.us—an educational site on selecting the right pool, founder of The Sales Lion.

#7: Meet in Person or “Virtually Connect”

andrea vahlAndrea Vahl

Some of my strongest online connections and relationships have developed because I took the time to connect in person.

Either by organizing a “meetup” or “Tweetup” with a group, going to a conference (such as Social Media Marketing World) where I knew the people I wanted to meet would be or even just connecting one-on-one through Skype.

I highly recommend you take some of these online connections offline to make a deeper connection.

google hangoutUse Google+ Hangouts to meet up with your peers.

Think about organizing a Google+ Hangout with several like-minded people with whom you are interested in connecting.

Even “virtually” connecting can help strengthen that relationship and spark some ideas for collaboration. Meeting someone makes retweeting and sharing their posts much more fun. Not only that, it can have a profound effect on your business. I know it has for me!

Andrea Vahl, social media coach, speaker, strategist and the Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

#8: Ask Your Audience Anything

pat flynn bio picPat Flynn

Ask. Plain and simple—just ask. Ask anything. Why? Because when you ask your audience something, you give them permission to speak. When it comes to social media, you want to do two things:engage and get people involved.

Asking encourages both and taps into the human nature of people who are online and participating in social media—the urge to be heard.

question marks with speech bubblesAsking your audience anything gives them permission to speak. Image source: iStockphoto

Once you’ve enabled others to speak by asking, you’ll learn a lot about your business—what’s working, what’s not and where to go from here. At the same time, you’ll learn a lot about your audience—who they are, what they like and dislike and the language they speak.

From there, you can start a real conversation and build a deeper relationship with your audience.

Pat Flynn, founder of Smart Passive Income.

#9: Like Your Customers on Facebook

mitch joelMitch Joel

Instead of asking your consumers to like your brand on Facebook, why don’t you start liking them?

Most brands use Facebook as an extension of their traditional and mass-marketing initiatives. As such, we have what can only be described as an “arms race” for likes on Facebook.

The average person on Facebook has 120-200 connections (depending on whom you ask… and when).

stock photo 14925891 thumbs upStart liking your customers on Facebook. Image source: iStockphoto

As big as Facebook is, it’s actually many, many, very small circles of close (and semi-close) connections.

Facebook and brands are less about advertising and much more about creating, nurturing and developing a more direct relationship between individuals and the brands that serve them. This isn’t for all brands. This isn’t for all consumers. This is (still) a massive opportunity for those who can rise above a traditional advertising strategy.

Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, blogger and podcaster, author of Six Pixels of Separation and the forthcoming book CRTL ALT Delete.

#10: Listen First and Never Stop Listening

dave kerpenDave Kerpen

Listening to your customers across social media is most important. There is little sense in social media marketing if you are not following this simple rule.

Social media is based on conversations; it’s not just another marketing channel for you to push out your content or promote your product. You have to have a conversation in which you’re engaging your customers. And in order to have a good conversation—whether online or offline—you have to listen and respond to your audience.

stock photo 12716675 whatListening to your customers is most important. Image source: iStockphoto

Use Twitter search terms like “need an accountant” if you’re an accountant or “We’re hiring” if you’re a recruitment firm. Then take what you learn from listening and use it to build better products, services and marketing campaigns.

Sun Chips, for example, returned to their old packaging after customers complained widely on the Internet that the new biodegradable packaging was too noisy.

Following this simple tip of listening to your customers AND prospects will empower your business with knowledge about what your customers really want. This is crucial for your business to grow and achieve high customer satisfaction. Customers like businesses that listen and respond to them.

Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable, author of Likeable Social Media and the forthcoming Likeable Business.

#11: Move From Social Like to Social Trust

john jantschJohn Jantsch

Smart marketers use free content as a way to attract fans and followers. Others create and hide content in an effort to get Facebook and Twitter users to like their Page or submit their email to get to the good stuff.

If you really want to see the power of this idea, combine these approaches. Create and share valuable content with no gate or requirement. Then offer those readers even more content when they like your Page or visit a landing page to sign up for more updates.

fb offerDuct Tape Marketing’s offer on Facebook.

The power behind this two-step approach is that it not only allows more people to see and interact with your first wave of content, the people who then take your call to action are much more highly qualified because you’ve already built a layer of trust with them before you asked for anything in exchange.

This approach works in almost any social network and is particularly effective using a combination of Facebook Offers and Sponsored Updates.

John Jantsch, founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, marketing consultant and speaker, author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine.

#12: Secure Your Brand and Product Names

justin levyJustin Levy

Whether you’re taking baby steps into social media or have jumped in with both feet, it’s critical that you secure your brand and product names on all major social media channels. This is as important as the domain name you choose for your company.

Too often companies will tweak or completely change the name of their company to fit an available domain name but they don’t treat social media channels the same way.

stock photo 199114 golden padlockSecure your brand and product names on all social media channels. Image source: iStockphoto

Even if you’re not ready to launch an active presence yet, at least secure your company handles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,PinterestSlideShareFlickrInstagram and others.

Ideally your company handle will be consistent across all social media channels (e.g., @yourcompanyname), because once you start setting up variations on different channels, it makes it more difficult for your prospects, customers and fans to find you.

To that end, take a few minutes to set up minimal branding such as adding your company logo, website and bio information. Once you’ve completed this exercise, it becomes easier to just secure your company name on the new shiny social network of the month.

However, initially you may consider using a service such as KnowEm which allows you to easily search across 550 social networks. KnowEm even has premium packagesavailable where they will take care of complete signup of all profile info, thus making it even easier for you.

Justin Levy, strategic advisor on all social media activities at Citrix Online, editor-in-chief of Workshifting.

#13: Find Your Content Marketing Mission Statement

joe pulizziJoe Pulizzi

According to Wikipedia, a mission statement is a company’s reason for existence. It’s why the organization does what it does.

Southwest Airlines’ mission statement has always been to democratize the travel experience. The mission statement for CVS is to be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. So, in simple terms, the mission statement must answer the question, “Why do we exist?”

In almost every one of my keynote presentations, I cover the content marketing mission statement. I feel it’s critical to set the tone for the idea of content marketing and social media, or any marketing for that matter.

Marketing professionals from so many small and large businesses get so fixated on social media channels such as blogs, Facebook or Pinterest that they honestly have no clue of their underlying content strategy.

So, the why must come before the what. This seems obvious, but most marketers have no mission statement or core strategy behind the content they develop.

Think of it this way: What if you were the leading trade magazine for your niche area? What if your goal was not to first sell products and services but to impact your readers with amazing information that would change their lives and behaviors?

If you can get your mission statement straight, you’ll make social media marketing that much easier for yourself.

Inc. magazine has its mission statement in the first line of its About Us page.

inc magazineInc. magazine has its mission statement in the first line of its About Us page.

Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.

Let’s dissect this a bit. Inc.’s mission statement includes:

  1. The core audience target: entrepreneurs and business owners
  2. What will be delivered to the audience: useful information, advice, insights, resources, and inspiration
  3. The outcome for the audience: growing their businesses

Inc.’s mission statement is also incredibly simple and includes no words that could be misunderstood. Perfecto!

If you want your social media to work, first stop what you are doing and start thinking about what your content marketing mission statement will be. Put the “why” before the “what” or “where.”

Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute, author of Managing Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers.

#14: Listen 100% of the Time

sarah robinsonSarah Robinson

The best social media marketing tip I can offer is this: Talk about yourself 10% of the time, engage with others about what matters to them 90% of the time and listen 100% of the time.

stock photo 19719987 one hundrwed percentMake sure you listen 100% of the time. Image source: iStockphoto

I was having lunch with a really sharp guy and the conversation turned to social media (Twitter specifically). He said, “I just don’t get Twitter. I post some stuff there and that’s about it. I don’t see any real return.” I quickly checked his stream and the only thing in it were his posts about his business. Later, I replied, “Twitter is a two-way conversation. Think of it as a cocktail party. It’s not a place to talk only about yourself and hawk your wares.” “Huh,” he said. “I never thought of social media as a conversation.”

I know people who go to cocktail parties and don’t think they’re for conversations either.

Don’t be the guy no one wants to talk to because he’s only interested in talking about himself. Be the one who draws a crowd because you are interested in and attentive to others. Offer helpful resources and connectionsSolve problems.

This earns you the right to eventually talk just a little about yourself and what you are up to. And when you do, everyone will be listening.

Sarah Robinson, a seasoned business coach, strategist, advisor and speaker who helps business owners set their companies apart from the pack. Author of Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities.

#15: Create a Systematic Approach

stephanie sammonsStephanie Sammons

To be successful in leveraging social media for growing your business, I believe you have to create a systematic approach to building your network and your brand.

Developing a system that is focused on high-impact social media marketing activities while spending the least amount of time possible allows you to be a consistent and efficient marketer. Consistency builds trust and efficiency lowers your marketing costs.

Many people don’t realize how important consistency is in marketing. Simply by staying top of mind with your community, you will reinforce your messaging over and overand create loyalty within your community (your messaging must be unique, helpful and insightful). Also, by being more efficient with your marketing, you will save time and money.

stock photo 18528255 old black alarm clock with calendarBe more efficient with your marketing. Image source: iStockphoto

By developing a systematic approach, the members of your network will be able to count on you to show up week after week with valuable insights, information and guidance. You will grow accustomed to a schedule that works for you, and over time, you will build online influence by meeting the expectations and experiences of your clients and prospects.

Here are some components that your digital marketing system should include:

  • Time to create and publish unique content to your blog each month
  • Time to share reputable and helpful content with your community on social networks
  • Time to engage in conversations and discussions on social networks
  • Time to empower and promote others
  • Time to grow your network and community
  • Time to analyze and reflect upon what’s working and what can be improved upon

Planning, dedication, and social media marketing software tools can all help in achieving a systematic approach while shaving off significant time in building your brand. It is feasible to spend only 3 hours a week on your system and realize success. If you map out your plan and make the commitment to marketing, you will achieve results.

Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor.

#16: Create Your Voice

neal schafferNeal Schaffer

Of all the companies I consult with, the one social media marketing tip that is always part of my advice is the importance of blogging.

Creating a social media presence and engaging with both consumers and potential clients requires companies to have a “voice” and to be able to share something of value in social media communities.

A blog is a perfect place to establish that “voice,” and it also serves as a logical vehicle to help both seed conversations in social media and help lead those same social media users back to your own website.

Simply being active in social media helps attain brand awareness, but when a user comes back to your website, it gives you a higher probability of converting them into a customer.

istock red megaphone on blackboardA blog is the perfect place to establish your voice. Image source: iStockphoto

Obviously, providing unique content means that you can reap the potential benefit of that content being shared in social media, helping to expose your brand and website to more potential customers.

It’s also a logical boost for your search engine optimization. Some have claimed that with the advent of social media, blogging is dying. I believe that blogging is more important than ever before, and those who blog relevant and shareable content for their social media communities will continue to reap the benefits.

To build upon this tip, the keys to successful blogging are being able to create content that others would want to share (“shareable content”) and also create a content strategy for your blog that is aligned with your marketing goals.

Start with organizing content into “buckets” of categories that are aligned with your present sales or future marketing plans. If you can organize these categories into four “buckets” of content, blog once a week for each category and you’re on your way to becoming successful at business blogging.

Neal Schaffer, president of Windmills Marketing, author of Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, Understanding, Leveraging and Maximizing LinkedIn, and the forthcoming Maximizing Twitter for Business.

#17: Share Content That Resonates With Your Audience

jesse stayJesse Stay

The best tip I have to offer for social media marketing is to stick to your passionsShare messages and content that resonates with your audience. Are they going to feel strongly, “I agree with that!” or “I strongly disagree with that!” when you share your message? Those are the types of messages you should be sharing.

Passion should emanate from every part of your social media campaign. From the name of your Facebook Page, to your advertising, to the content you share. Everything should resonate and strike a chord, in one way or another (usually in a positive way), with your audience.

stock photo 19649213 share buttonShare content that really resonates with your audience. Image source: iStockphoto

When you focus on passion, your engagement will go up, your shares will increase and your audience will grow. When you can create content that builds passion, your audience will come. Focus on passion and you can’t go wrong!

Jesse Stay, social media director for Deseret Digital Media, author of Google+ Marketing for Dummies and I’m on Facebook—Now What??? 2nd Edition.

#18: Exchange Contact Information

paul colligan picPaul Colligan

There are no guarantees that the social media network or platform that you are part of will have the same shelf life as your business. Networks come and go (MySpace, anyone?) but your business, hopefully, will not.

Yes, social media is a “party” and you want to play and interact on the terms of your host. But just as important is the simple fact that said party will end at some point.

Just as you might exchange phone numbers or email addresses (with some people) at any social event, you should, and want to, consider doing the same thing on any social network you want to be part of.

stock photo 1007979 rolodexConsider exchanging phone numbers and email addresses with people within your social network. Image source: iStockphoto

Regular contextually appropriate opportunities to exchange phone numbers or addresses inside of a social network are just good business. Be strategic, but be purposeful. The test of any good party is the relationships that come from them. Everything else is just fleeting memories of “another party” and a bad headache in the morning.

BTW, I met my wife at a social event. I sure am glad we exchanged contact information and didn’t hope everything would happen within the confines of where we met.

Paul Colligan, CEO of Colligan and Content Czar at Instant Customer.

#19: Distribute Your Blog Content to the Most Popular Groups on LinkedIn

michael crossonMichael Crosson

It is easy to gain very valuable distribution of your content to some of the 200,000,000+ members of LinkedIn.

Here’s how to get exposure to some of the largest and most popular groups.

  • Find the LinkedIn Share button on articles or posts throughout the web.
    linkedin shareFind the LinkedIn Share button on articles or posts.
  • Cut and paste your content under Post to Updates and then check the Post to Groups box.
    linkedin shareCut and paste your content under Post to Updates.
  • Select the groups you want your post submitted to.
    linkedin shareSelect groups.

Done! This is super-easy and helps accelerate massive exposure.

Michael Crosson, founder and publisher of SocialMediopolis, founder of the fourth-largest LinkedIn group, the Social Media Marketing Group.

#20: Integrate Social Media Best Practices

carrie kerpenCarrie Kerpen

The most important social media marketing tip for businesses is to integrate, integrate, integrate. Social media can’t exist in a silo. Instead, it should be a core part of your strategy.

A company that’s responsive on Twitter but has poor customer service practices won’t do well. A company that produces great content on Facebook but has a closed, non-transparent corporate culture will eventually fail. Successful social media has to start with integration.

stock photo 22958840 puzzle q ampIntegrate your efforts for successful social media outcomes. Image source: iStockphoto

Social media is not just a function of marketing or public relations. Of course social media includes marketing, public relations and advertising, but it also includescustomer service, customer relationship management, sales, operations, human resources and research and development.

Ideally, everyone at your company should be trained in the fundamentals of social media as it touches many different areas of a business.

Furthermore, there are numerous opportunities throughout the customer experience for integration of social networks and social media best practices. The more open and transparent you are with customers throughout the entire customer life cycle, the more comfortable they’ll feel about continuing to buy your stuff, hire you, like you and your Pages and recommend you to friends.

Carrie Kerpen, Chief Like Officer at Likeable Media, author of the upcoming book Social Moms.

#21: Focus on Getting Attention First

aaron kahlowAaron Kahlow

If I had to boil it down to one social media marketing tip, it is to focus on the marketing element.

We are marketers, we need to get some movement beyond buzz and really drive progress. In that vein, my tip is to focus on getting attention FIRST.

stock photo 22912335 signalFocus on getting attention first. Image source: iStockphoto

So many of us think about the end game of generating leads or sales, and others think about the metrics of engagement. But like a magazine ad, you must get someone to stop the virtual page flipping and say “Hmm, that’s interesting.”

Focus on headline writing and visual storytelling (I steal from Lisa Buyer) to get someone to pause for that millisecond and lean in. Your content is only as good as that which gets the attention of the inundated user.

Then of course you must test, iterate and measure. Tools to do this will be critical.

Aaron Kahlow, CEO of Online Marketing Connect, chairman and founder of the Online Marketing Summit and its related educational arm, the Online Marketing Institute.