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The cold hard truths of social media marketing:

Truth About Social MediaAs we forge ahead into another year of social media marketing bigger and more complex than ever before, many business owners are still trying to wade through the thick online marketing jungle questioning the value of their efforts. Here are a few helpful tips to really try and narrow your focus this year.

1. Know your goals. It’s is darn near impossible to win a race if you haven’t drawn the finish line. Figure out what you want to accomplish and you’ll have a much better propensity to achieve your goals. Even more important than knowing those goals is to delineate clear distinctions between outcome and process goals. An outcome goal would be something like, “I’m going to pull in 15% more income through social media.” The process goals would be more like, “I will produce a new digital product the first month of each quarter. I will have webinars monthly to promote my products. I will budget x amount of dollars towards advertising the events.” You have far more control over process goals vs. the outcome goals; however, it’s important to have both. You need the vision (outcome goal) AND the action plan (process goals.)

A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline. -Harvey Mackay

2. Don’t be misguided- doing self social media marketing is a lot of work! Prepare to budget either a fair amount of time or money to dedicate to the management of your social media. Most times, the outcomes are directly proportionate to what you put into it. This being said, there are still a few strategies to implement to help ease the load. I’ve already touched on one of the most helpful tips to managing your social media: budget..your..time. Many people will “fit” their marketing in when they can. You’re likely doing yourself a great disservice this way. Jumping onto your smart phone to post in real time is okay and encouraged, but a good social media strategy is also strategic. Leverage the scheduling tools and broadcast when your fans are online. If the highest percentage of your fans are online at 8 pm, be sure to post accordingly. Dedicating an hour a week to collating content, scheduling posts and other various social media tasks such as audience building or ad maintenance will actually save you time and maximize your productivity. When you block of time to focus on a task at hand, you get in the zone making it easier for the ideas to flow. You’ll save many cumulative minutes when you’re not task bouncing. Trust me, I am the queen of having 15 tabs open at once- it is not at all conducive to optimal production!

3. In order to play the game to win, you need to learn the rules. What social media is: Social media is a conversation. It’s a courtship. It’s either educational, inspirational or entertaining. It’s a two way street. It’s your brand. It’s YOUR reputation. What social media isn’t: It’s not a disquisition. It’s not a never ending commercial. It’s not a one night stand or even a fling for that matter. It’s not your all of your eggs in one basket. If these are the rules, how do you play? Listen often, always respond, be consistent, have fun, share your energy, keep your portfolio diverse. Hey, that sounds like the recipe for success in plenty of life’s endeavors.

4. Measure, measure, measure. You can’t figure out how tall you are without a unit of measurement. It doesn’t matter if you’re using inches on a ruler or stacking blocks, you’ll still be able to gauge growth. Adversely, analyzing your metrics also points out the areas where progress was stagnant in which case you are able to root out that which is not working. A benefit that is just as if not more valuable than tracking growth. Most social media platforms have their own native insights and metric tracking or you can choose from the plethora of third party tools such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial, but the best, free tool you can use is Google Analytics. The ever evolving behemoth online giant provides an entire suite of marketing tools that are must-haves in your arsenal, but Analytics is arguably the best way to quantify your online marketing efforts. Here is a great resource from Google themselves to help you use the tool to your advantage.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. Why not make 2014 the year, you make it work for you!