= Social media can be a great way to let the world know your content is out there, and can even be a source of referral traffic in it's own right, helping potential customers find you. But social media is an always evolving landscape and some businesses jump into a new platform much too quickly, without really knowing how to use it effectively. Others are too slow to adopt. And when they do they face going up against more established social competitors. It's good to be an early adopter, but it's critical to have a strategy in place before you get involved in any social platform.
The first thing you'll need to do if you want to leverage social media to help you get your content out there is to make sure your company has a presence on at least the top social media networks. We're talking about the ones with the largest number of active users, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, platforms like those. Of course, there are more and more of these every day and you'll want to research where your audience is. But chances are they're located in one or more of these. Every one of these networks is a chance to get your content in front of more eyeballs, attract more links, and encourage more sharing.
Once you've identified where your social efforts will be targeted and you've established a presence on these networks, you'll want to make sure they're integrated on the pages that host the content you're creating. Lots of companies maintain a blog with an RSS feed because it's a great way to get word out to qualified visitors. They're actively subscribing to your content. You can do a similar thing with social media by placing the various share buttons on your pages. And these allow users to quickly pass on content, that they found useful, to their networks.
That said, you'll want to choose your social buttons carefully. Don't fill your pages with 20 different buttons that take two and a half days to load. You'll want to pick the ones that your audiences are active on. For example, if you've got a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook, make sure you put the Twitter and Facebook buttons on your pages. And if you're trying to grow your presence on Pinterest or LinkedIn, then placing those buttons there might be a good idea as well. But if you don't have an Instagram or Google presence, for example, and you don't target users of those social networks, you may want to leave those off and make it simpler for your consumer base to make their selection.
As you build and grow your presence on social networks, you'll find topics that you relate to that are guiding conversations in the social sphere. On many social networks, hashtags are used to tag certain conversations. And people are interested in those conversations can choose to listen in or participate where those hashtags are present. For example, the web analytics community commonly uses the hashtag 'measure' in their tweets. Many of the experts, vendors, and practitioners in this space converse and share interesting content with one another using this hashtag.
So if you're creating content that fits the bill, you can use that hashtag to get your content in front of a very specific group of people. Just remember that this is a self-regulating community. Your content must be useful and valuable to that group. And if it is, you'll be rewarded with further shares and retweets. A good thing to do when planning your content strategy is to identify how you plan to share that content across your social channels once it's been pushed live. Which networks will it go out on? What will the message say? Which hashtags will it use? Who will do it? Who's going to monitor and respond to activity and keep the conversations going? These are all questions to keep in mind with each piece of content that you publish.
Last, the popular social media outlets of today are not likely to remain constant forever. Remember Friendster? Myspace? How about Netscape and AOL? In this industry, companies rise and fall faster than ever before and you'll need to keep an eye on the networks that matter for your audience and respond to them accordingly. Whichever platforms you choose, and however you choose to leverage them, spend the time to get the word out about the content that you've worked so hard to create. You'll be glad you did.
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