Before you start engaging in social media, you have to know where the conversations are going on, what are the trends, who are the influencers, and who are the evangelists.
Before you decide to implement any tactic in social media, the first question you should ask is "Why?" Why should I have a Facebook page? Why should I have a Twitter account? Too many times I've run into companies asking why their social media strategy failed and when I ask these companies why they implemented a particular tactic, inevitably one of the answers I hear is "Because our agency said they could do that." I then ask the person seeking advice if the agency explained why they should implement the tactic and very rarely do I hear "Because they found our audience was there."
Research is the foundation to any social media or integrated marketing strategy. You have to understand and know where the conversations are going on, what are the trends, who are the influencers, and who are the evangelists before you start engaging in social media. If you set off engaging, it is a lot like walking blindly into a burning building. Businesses can encounter a lot of "dangers" that they might not be prepared for.
Research however goes beyond just "keyword research" using the Google AdWords tool and discovering seasonal trends. People in social media communities share and speak differently than how they search. More jargon and slang is used in these communities because they are more comfortable. You must understand that keyword research with your SEO or PPC set of words is just the beginning. There's a lot more to be done if you're going to discover key insights to make your social media strategy successful.
Research tools are indispensible and can take many forms for different companies depending on resources, capabilities, and budgets. From free to enterprise level, there are a lot of tools that marketers can use in combination to come up with the answers they need to choose the right tactics to become part of a successful social media strategy.
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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