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July 28, 2008

Why Every Solo Practitioner Should Have a Great Social Media Plan - Shama Hyder

From Brian Solis of PR 2.0

Question: If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen?

Indeed. Conversations are taking place with or without you.

If you’re not part of the conversation, then you’re leaving it to others to answer questions and provide information, whether it’s accurate or incorrect. Or, even worse, you may be leaving it up to your competition to jump in to become the resource for the community.

Social Media is where it's happening.  To quote Christopher S. Penn:

The time for talk only is over. New media, social media, whatever you want to call it, is an incredible power, the likes of which we as humans have never had before. We can affect events at great distances, see beyond walls, know the thoughts of others, influence millions without getting out of our chairs. I hope you take a step back, realize the power you have, and make something of it.

David Meerman Scott of WebInkNow challenges those very effectively when they say, 'no, I don't need or want social media.  We don't use it."

So, it is why I invited Shama Hyder, social media and on line marketing expert, to discuss why you need to have a social media marketing plan.

Guest Blogger - Shama Hyder

Social Media-Why You Should Care and Where to Begin

Once upon a time, the media was made up of a select group of people. They talked and people listened. You better have cared about the media because theirs was the gospel truth. Today the word “media” is all encompassing. You don’t need a newspaper or magazine to share your views. More importantly, your clients don’t need a newspaper or magazine to tell them what to think. They can think for themselves (thank you very much!) and while they are at it, they will go ahead and tell whoever they wish.

Your clients, prospects, colleagues, neighbors are now the media, and just as you cared what the old media thought-you should care EVEN MORE about what the new media thinks. Why? Well, let’s say that 10 years ago the NY Times published a not so glowing review about your company. The effect may linger for a month (if that), but then they would move on to bigger and better things.  Let’s face it -  time and space were limited (only so many reporters, and only so much paper!).  Now, compare that to a blogger giving you a bad review. One year later, it would still be popping up as a search result when someone types in your company name. Even worse, it will have spawned multiple blog posts, forum discussions, and chats. If your immediate impulse is to control this phenomenon, stop right now. It will backfire. You can’t control a groundswell. The term groundswell was coined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff who describe it as “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.”

But if you can’t control it, what can you do? <insert minor freak-out here>. You can nurture it. You can build a community of raving fans. You can give them platforms to voice their opinion. You can leverage it for the positive. The same groundswell that can devour you can also nourish you if you direct its power.

Okay, Shama- so should our company start writing blogs, open forums, and chat with everyone we meet? Not so quick Jack. The answer to this is IT DEPENDS. Although EVERYONE is part of this social media movement (like it or not), they all have different roles they prefer to play. Your first job is to figure out where your prospects fall in the Social Technographics ladder. Yes, another super useful creation by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  (image below found at: http://niallfiles.com/public/images/forrester/ladder.png )

http://niallfiles.com/public/images/forrester/ladder.png

Are your prospects creators who blog on a regular basis, upload videos, and publish websites? Or are your prospects simply spectators who like to read blogs but don’t necessarily comment? Answer this question, and you are half way finished with your spectacular social media plan.

Shama Hyder is an online marketing expert. She publishes the praise winning 'Online Marketing Tips' weekly e-zine with subscribers from around the world. If you're ready to get more clients, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your F'REE tips now at www.AfterTheLaunch.com

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