10 Tips for Learning Social Media Marketing

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So, you are a seasoned and successful businessperson, academic administrator, non-profit director, government employee, or any person with responsibility for publicizing an organization or some part of it...

But you're also the most amateur of amateurs when it comes to social media marketing and publicity?

Attention, baby boomers and Gen Xers: not to stereotype, but this might mean you when it comes to social networking! Or anyone else with some catching up to do on the latest social media marketing (SMM) platforms, for that matter.

If you need help learning social media marketing skills, we're here for you. In this article, we will give you ten tips on social media marketing for beginners for learning social media the right way.

Learning Social Media Marketing

The following tips should prove helpful as you find your way through the fascinating labyrinth that is social media. There is no shortage of advice and strategy online for those learning social media marketing practice; we've tried to distill them for you.

Tip 1: Be an Eager Learner

Wherever you are on the social media learning curve, there will always be new stuff to learn. So swallow your pride and open your mind.

Use your personal accounts to look around and see what other marketers are up to. What is innovative? What seems to be good practice? What really doesn't work?

Begin to develop a philosophy statement to govern your approach to social media.

Tip 2: Be a Serious Learner

If you are truly a social media beginner (i.e., you might be a regular user of social media, but not a strategic creator of content for it), take a course or two (or more). There are a lot of good quality free offerings out there from various entities.

We would bet you'll find these courses so engaging that you become addicted to them. You might be looking at some very advanced topics (ones you haven't even heard of yet) before too long!

There are many lists of free online social media courses out there.

Tip 3: Familiarize Yourself with the Different Platforms

When learning how to do social media, you should keep in mind that each platform has its unique attributes. Being familiar with these can help build your brand, especially if you understand how the platforms complement one another.

Find out more about Facebook, for example. There's a site that offers an overview of Instagram's key features. And there's a nice overview of Twitter. There is a wealth of other, similar sites offering social media resources.

Tip 4: Get Out There, Take the Plunge

Start building your brand. If it's a new brand, one you're just launching, help people discover it--and share that discovery with their personal networks.

If it's an established brand--perhaps one that's been underexposed through social media marketing--remind people what they do know about it. Is it a product they see in the supermarket? Maybe a regional franchise that has gone national?

Tip 5: But Try Not to Take Too Many Risks at the Start

At the start, it’s important to be consistent and engage with followers. It's also important to be on brand. At this stage, you want to avoid any mixed messages. Experiments can come once your brand is more established.

This means you should avoid any humor that might be misinterpreted, complicated information (though people do like simple statistics), or any potentially controversial topics.

Tip 6: Build the Story of Your Brand

People love stories. We've been told stories throughout our entire lives--and most of us can tell some good ones ourselves. How did your brand start? How did it grow? How has it innovated?

Just remember, these are stories--but not long, complicated ones. You don't want your followers to become confused or lose interest. You might try an old-style "Burma Shave" type of approach, though, to build interest gradually.

Need some advice on social media storytelling? Check out this site. And here are some great examples of brand stories.

Tip 7: Be Generous

What does this even mean in the complicated world of marketing today? How can you be generous toward a sea of social media users, the vast majority of whom are completely anonymous to you?

We think of it like this: seeing clients, or potential clients not in a "ka-ching, ka-ching" profit-building sort of way, but instead as people to whom we are grateful and want to share in the celebration of our success.

If we treat them well, they might do the same for us and our business.

Check out what the highly successful Zingerman's has to say about generosity as a business philosophy in its training manual. If you can carry out these principles in your online persona, you will do well--and good.

Tip 8: Don't Become Complacent

Don't take your followers for granted.

Engaging means listening to and acting on what you read and hear. Asking people to share their perspectives with you (e.g., by surveying them) means asking them for valuable time, even if it's just a little. So be sure to take their input seriously.

And, of course, the more engaged your followers are, the more likely they will be to support and help promote your business, not to mention provide you with valuable lead or customer data.

Tip 9: Maintain Mindshare

Mindshare is a term that can be hard to define but nonetheless matters quite a lot.

Basically, "mindshare is a measure of consumers’ awareness of your business or brand compared to your competitors. In other words, it refers to brand visibility and popularity. Think market share, but less concrete and numeric."

Vanessa Merit Nornberg, President of the jewelry wholesaler Metal Mafia, wrote in an Inc. article that "if customers think and talk about us often and in a predominantly good way, we have earned positive mindshare."

Tip  10: Don't Ever Stop Learning

Remember those free online courses we discussed above? They'll still be there when you're seasoned and experienced. But don't forget that your followers can teach you as well--with another kind of valuable information, about your business.

With innovations being announced all day every day in the current digitally mediated market economy, you can't afford to not stay informed about as many of them as possible.

Follow-Up To Keep Learning Social Media Marketing

DIYGenius has a great quote on its site: "The key to social media is building social proof for your expertise...

It doesn’t matter what certificates you have or which online courses you have taken, what matters most is that you can demonstrate that you can build engaged social media audiences."

This quote on social media management is right on target. Learning social media skills really is about learning how to engage with people you probably never will meet in person--but nonetheless are a community you have cultivated and become part of.

As myfrugalbusiness.com puts it, "Every entrepreneur and small business has the power to reach the 4 billion people in this world using various social media platforms." This we think is a really big deal, so get out there and build your brand while learning social media marketing throughout the process!

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