Blogging is the key to understanding social media.
Are you thinking about starting a blog? Are you working, leading, exploring social media as a career? Okay. So if I Google your name, or your Twitter ID I'm going to find… what exactly?
I remember when Dell installed Andy Lark to replace the ousted Mark Jarvis as CMO. He like rugby and he blogs. That's about all we, an internal group of friends at Dell, knew about it. At least he blogged. It showed he was "with us" on the technology of getting the message out. He was a believer. Andy Lark's The Daily Lark. He still is even as he has moved onward and upward from Dell.
Okay, so neither you nor I are poised to become CMO or VPs of global tech or banking companies. That's fine. But what are we doing?
How are you processing the massive amounts of information and data coming at you? I mean beyond processing your INBOX on a daily basis and attending your daily business meetings. How do YOU stay on top of what's coming in marketing and social media? Pinterest, for example. Heard about it? CHECK. Got an account? CHECK. Pinned a few things? CHECK. Okay, so how is your next job or project going to leverage Pinterest Mania? How can Pinterest be added to your marketing plan?
Most of us don't have marketing plans that have a Pinterest angle. Today. But we've got to understand and think about Pinterest. If it's the third largest web referral network and we'd better have a plan when someone asks about it. Of course, without having the "project" to use Pinterest we might get complacent with the first three steps of our learning process: HEAR. JOIN. TRY.
I'm sorry to inform you, that's not enough.
The rest of the process is: PLAN. LAUNCH. MEASURE. OPTIMIZE. TRY AGAIN.
And you should be thinking about the last four steps as often as you are exploring the first three. Sure, Pinterest is cool and interesting and you've Pinned a few things. Errrrr. And…
I'd propose the next step, regardless of your *project* or current role within a company, is to PLAN how Pinterest would fit into an online marketing plan. And if you launched your PLAN what kinds of things would you need to measure? Do you know enough about the Pinterest demographics to make educated assumptions in your plan? No. Okay, that could be a good data point to bone up on.
Today we all know everything, and we all know that if we don't know it we can Google it. And probably you could cram the night before a client presentation is due, and add in your single Pinterest strategy slide. And I believe that's how a lot of social media strategy gets done. But you can do better. And you should.
A blog is the training ground for so many things. Content development. Layout and Information Architecture. Design. Metrics and Analysis. Optimization. Goals and Sales Funnels. "How's it workin for ya" kinda stuff. You need to be engaging in all of these parts of the process of social media strategy as well. If you don't know how to explore your own Google Analytics and generate a meaningful report or at least an "insight" how are you going to do it for your next client?
BOTTOMLINE: Your blog is where you can write the theoretical plans and strategies for new social media sites or online opportunities. And as you are forming deeper thoughts about "Pinterest for Technology Sales" you are also honing the skills content development. Did your Twitter post generate 10 x the views and tweets of your average post? What was it that generated the interest and traffic to your blog? Can you repeat that process?
Here is the core of your Social Media Plan and how you can answer the questions related to your understanding of any technology: Example Pinterest.
HEAR: "Pinterest is the third largest referral site on the web." – Nice. Now what do you know about it. You need to take a few more steps.
JOIN: "Yes I have a Pinterest account." – Good for you. What do you use it for? Why would I care about Pinterest?
TRY: "I've Pinned some stuff." – Engagement means spending some time on the site and using it to understand a bit more about the conversations and opportunities.
PLAN: I wrote a POST about that, "Pinterest As a Driver For Stock Photography Sales." – Articulating the idea and explaining the process. Just like you would in a real client meeting.
LAUNCH: "In my examples I started Pinning ancient Greek images and found a sweet spot that started getting a lot of RePins." – Strategy and leadership as part of your writing.
MEASURE: "When I look for actionable analytics, I focus on what action I want the visitor to take on the site." – Experience you can get from optimizing and working your blog.
OPTIMIZE: "I started seeing the traffic going up and bounce rate going down after I added Pinterest as a Category and a Tag." – You have to do it to understand it.
TRY AGAIN: Let's try, "Pinterest-Like Sites Flooding the Fashion Market" for our next post.
You can do some of this extracurricular work on your own, without blogging. And you can cram your innovation education into a long night with Google and Powerpoint. But if you blog about the work you do, or the work you WANT TO DO, you will develop understanding that can be gained in no other way. You have to DO social media. You can't just read and write about it. A blog is the first step towards satisfying many of the requirements for understanding social media.
And when that potential employer Google's your name they will be impressed when they see more than your LinkedIN page and Twitter account.