Any successful social media strategist has to develop a social media plan for the brand he / she is supporting. Although this plan should be more in-depth, here’s my very abridged version that is appropriate for a blogpost length.
There are three major parts to any social media interaction. Listen, engage, empathize and respond. Below is a set of tools and techniques to help Murphy Goode (or any brand for that matter) get started on the social media. To get the rest… Well, they will just have to hire me.
Why it’s important: you need to know 1) what’s going on in the industry, 2) what your competitors are up to, 3) what your customers are saying and 4) what your non-customers are saying.
Tools you should be using:
Google Alerts. Google Alerts have been around for a while, so I won’t spend a lot of time on them – basically it’s a service that emails you when a specified keyword / phrase is mentioned basically anywhere on the Internet.
Tweet Beep is like Google Alerts for Twitter – have it email you each time a specified keyword / phrase is mentioned on Twitter. To stay sane and organized, filter it into separate folders in your email. Murphy Goode may want to set up keywords “Murphy Goode”, “wine”, “E. & J. Gallo”, “J”, etc.
Netvibes / Google Reader: set up RSS feeds from respected / thought leading blogs for the wine industry that mesh with the Murphy Goode’s brand, strategy, social media approach, etc. For someone as on the forefront of the “Wine 2.0” movement as Murphy Goode is, I think WineLibrary.tv is a good fit. Both possess a no-fuss, yet fun and educational approach to wine, using social media tools to bring wine into every home. Share great content with your readers and followers, as well as contribute comments to relevant blogposts. The more you get out there and participate, the more awareness you will raise.
You can also use Yahoo! Pipes to help you in blog discovery. I have built a pipe to help you find each blog that has the word “Murphy Goode” mentioned in it (the pipe address is: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=bFH0.Di32xGnPkr_qu5lkA). You can feed it via RSS into Netvibes, Google Reader, other RSS readers, or embed it into your site.
Part of the reason to listen is to understand the trends in the industry, and do competitive intelligence. The second part is to measure sentiment towards your own brand. You need to know exactly what your consumers are saying about you. If an experience was negative, get in touch with them immediately to understand why and see how you can rectify. Excellent customer service is synonymous with brand building these days, considering how fast word-of-mouth spreads. Please check out my post on customer service, as well as Gary Vaynerchuck’s keynote. Talk to happy consumers too. The idea is to turn non-believers into believers, and believers into brand ambassadors. If you can have customers selling your product to others… Why not?
Create engaging and relevant content:
You need to become an authority figure and a thought leader; otherwise no one will be taking you seriously. You have to work for it, and it won’t happen overnight. Social media engagement is powerful, but it’s not magic. To develop your authority, you must produce content that is right for your brand and your audience. Since the Murphy Goode brand is all about laid-back wine appreciation, having fun, family, friends, and even poker and football, all original content has to reflect this brand. The Lifestyle Correspondent will be responsible for creating this content and developing best practices to be left behind after the 6 months are up. Content should include text, video and photo.
Tools you should be using:
Make sure you install the proper SEO and sharing plugins for your blog; WordPress has a rich ecosystem of plugins. An example of a cool plugin is Zemanta – it automatically adds content and links so possibly related blogs (and in turn suggests your blog to other blogs’ readers). It also makes your post easy to reblog, with just one click. Disqus is a superb commenting platform that I highly recommend, as it doesn’t force the commenter to create a separate login, and drives comment contribution, due to comment portability across all Disqus-enabled blogs.
YouTube has become the de-facto video publishing platform. It garners much higher traffic than all the other video sites, allows you to subscribe to channels, as well as for others to subscribe to yours, and embeds easily into WordPress, Tumblr and other blogging and social tools. If you want to share any other HD work, you should use Vimeo instead as it looks higher quality, and the interface is a little nicer. Make sure to tag the videos with relevant tags to optimize SEO. Subscribe to wine and Sonoma related channels that you and your readers would be interested in. Like with any social network, interact by favoriting, subscribing, commenting and friending.
Flickr is the de-facto photo service. You can upload photos via your computer (there are great upload tools that make it easy for large sets – iPhoto has a direct feed into Flickr, for example. You can also upload to Flickr from mobile via m.flickr.com. Share photos on Twitter with flic.kr, Twitpic or YFrog. Flickr feeds directly into Facebook, WordPress and other platforms. Make sure to tag correctly for SEO and ease of navigation via your profile. You should also organize images into sets, i.e. “Wine Tasting event 9.15.09”, “Lessons in winemaking”, “Wine bloggers conference”, etc.
Media distribution services like Pixelpipe will save you a ton of time by feeding your social networks, blogs, photo and video sites (this way you only need to upload media to Pixelpipe). For a job as media-heavy as that of the Lifestyle Correspondent, this tool will be essential to optimize social media tasks, saving time and therefore money. You can even feed your photos (and soon videos) via the iPhone when on the go.
Engage, share and interact:
So what do you do with the conversations that you are listening to and the fresh content you are creating? That’s when you take the Goode word to the social networks. I am only going to get into a few most important ones here.
Tools you should be using:
Twitter is fantastic for immediate real-time interactions that can occur between several users at once. It is not a walled garden, and unlike on Facebook, you can engage with anyone you find in the “listening” step, regardless of a follow relationships. I have talked about Twitter enough on this blog, so I won’t repeat myself. The one thing I will stress is that it’s important to have a mixture broadcast messages, @ replies and retweets (RTs) in your stream. You don’t want to come across as a “30 second spot”; you want to interact, while still providing value and original content. Also, when you find something valuable, don’t be afraid to retweet.
Facebook: You can feed selective tweets into Facebook via “selective Twitter”: a Facebook app that feeds tweets into Facebook if they have a #fb at the end of a tweet. If you tweet a lot (which the Lifestyle Correspondent would probably do), you should respect your FB friends and not assault them with 50 daily updates. Oooops, I am personally guilty of that 🙂 You can also feed your Facebook account and fan page with Networked Blogs (to add your blog content to FB), Friendfeed and other applications. Other external applications like Mashable and Eventbrite allow you to publish your stories to Twitter and Facebook, and you should use them as needed. If you are attending or hosting a wine event, for example, you should publish that you are attending via Eventbrite, for an opportunity to connect in-person with your fans (read my article on why it’s important to connect in real life).
Tumblr: if Twitter and WordPress had a baby, it would be Tumblr. Tumblelogs are short blogposts that are friendlier to multiple media support, easier to update on the go (via email, SMS, IM and RSS from your other blogs). This is going to be key for the Lifestyle Correspondent. Tumblr is social in that you can follow and be followed. Tumblr is appropriate for short, media-heavy posts, but it’s not the right platform for a long text-heavy blog post like this one.
Delicious and StumbleUpon are social bookmarking sites that you can use not only for discovery of content around a particular wine-related topic, but you can also to bookmark your own content, eventually driving traffic to your destination. You can share your bookmarks with your network and publish them to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
Friendfeed is a lifestreaming service that allows you to aggregate all of your social networking content and activity into one place (and consume friends’ activities from one place). Like any other social and blogging platform, you can participate in discussions, create discussions and float up to the “Best of the Day” section if you get enough traction. Reading this section just once a day helps you surface any big events, as curated by your friends: what your friends created, commented on and favorited. You can also feed Friendfeed into Facebook. Just like with Twitter and Facebook, you can separate contacts into groups, in an attempt to better manage the “social media firehose”.
P.S. With whatever you do, remember that social media is simply an extension of your offline brand. Make sure everything is consistent in voice, branding, personality. Use the same color schemes, easily recognizable logos and trade dress.
If you like my social media plan, please consider voting for me here for A Really Goode Job!