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We’ve talked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but now we need to put you out there for the entire world to see. You’ve heard people talking about social media – sites such as Facebook (www.facebook.com), Twitter (www.twitter.com), and others. Do they work? Do I have the time to do this; I’ve heard you have to tweet several times a day to be effective? Yes it works! How often you upload to social media depends on your business and what you have to say. Let’s start with the basics.

  • S – Strategy
  • O – Organization
  • C – Content
  • I – Interaction
  • A – Analysis
  • L – Learn

Before you start building profiles you have to develop a strategy. What do you hope to accomplish and how do you plan to accomplish it? You need to ask yourself.Before you start building profiles you have to develop a strategy. What do you hope to accomplish and how do you plan to accomplish it? You need to ask yourself.

  • Why - Purpose of the Social Media Strategy.
  • What - Strategic Objective / Theme.
  • Who - Target Audience.
  • Where - Social Media Platforms.
  • When - Content Planning, Development, and Distribution.
  • How – Software and Automation.
  • How Well - Measurement, Testing, and Continuous Improvement.

Let’s look at WHY and WHAT. Your overall strategy might be to;

  • Increase awareness: You'll use social media to expose more people to your business and to the products and services that you offer. .
  • Increase engagement: Engagement means that people are entering into a conversation with you and talking about your business or topics related to your business. This is important if you'd like to create a community of enthusiastic followers and get more people talking about your business.
  • Increase sales: This goes without saying, right? Since your overall goal is to increase sales, it's not surprising that this is a possible objective for your social media strategy as well.
  • Awareness: Are you just getting started with your business? Do you simply need people to know about you? If so, you'll want to consider this objective.
  • Engagement: Maybe you already have some followers or a customer base. Perhaps it's been awhile since you've heard from your customers, or they've switched to a competitor. If so, engagement might be your most fitting objective. You want to deepen the relationship you already have with them. After all, people are generally much more likely to purchase from someone who they know, like, and trust. From there, you can get them to talk about your business, engage on your social media platforms, and ultimately purchase from you again.

What about WHO? Who is your target audience? Topical collectors, Classic collectors, specific Country collectors or other groups. This is something you have to decide and then lay out your plan of action to reach these people. This will dictate, in part, what platforms you use to reach your customers

Then there is the big question - WHERE? There are multiple platforms you can list on.

Every company should have a Facebook account. Unlike listings in the search engines which only summarize your information, Facebook is an adjunct to your website. It defines who you are and what you do. It provides a platform for you to make new announcements concerning products or services. It has a huge following and people search often for items of interest to them. As with any platform you have to spend a little time setting things up but it is well worth it in the long run

Twitter is another popular platform. Founded in mid-2006, Twitter.com is considered one of the old grandpas of the social media world. Today, Twitter boasts more than 500 million registered users and processes hundreds of millions of messages and billions of search queries daily. What sets Twitter apart is how users share information—through tweets. These are very brief messages that can be no longer than 140 characters. It's a style of communication that's become very influential.

Other platforms include Pinterest (www.pinterest.com used for sharing photos), Google+ (plus.google.com), and Linkedin (www.linkedin.com), although Linkedin is more for business to business contact.

Content is crucial! You want to provide meaningful content that will interest your follower’s not just sales ads. Do you sell Topical? How about something regarding a new topical issue, or a unique type of stamps – say the 1847 series of US stamps. Yes, you will periodically post a sales type of ad, but be subtle or you’ll lose followers. Also, if you provide real information the search engines will pick it up and give some links.

HOW is another matter? You can submit your own posts manually and use automation software to submit to the various platforms based on a schedule. BE CARFUL with automation software! It is a great tool for getting out posts and tweets but don’t overdo it. Multiple posts or tweets can be annoying and can be considered as spam.

inally, how do we LEARN and MEASURE your success, or failures. In part you can tell by sales, but this is only part of the story. Look at your site analytics. Are “New” visitors coming to your site? Are they sticking around, or are they visiting and leaving without going past the landing page? Don’t become complacent! If something works try it again, if not, come up with a different strategy.

Whatever you do, Social Media is an important element to successful marketing and must be considered if you wish to be successful online.

Credit for some of the material above goes to Brad Seth, Broward Community College.

About the author, Bruce Drumm owns and operates a web design and hosting company, Servers, Inc® – www.servers-inc.com, dedicated to philately and e-commerce. He’s been designing sites since 1997 and has partnerships with Adobe, Google, PayPal, Microsoft, and others. As a collector, he has an understanding of philately and how to do business on the Internet.