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Special Interests Groups - Intro

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Before understanding what social media is and all the different platforms, you must realize why you should use social media for your business as a garden communicator.

If you’re looking to grow your presence online or even in your local community, you need to be discoverable. Just as people search and find information using Google, people also find information on social media platforms.

As social media matures and evolves into a necessary marketing medium, its influence on search engine optimization (SEO) will play a vital role. Showing up on the first page in Google’s search results should be every writer’s goal.

Google’s goal is to offer the best possible search results to its users. That means finding content published by real people who are experts in their field, not generic copy produced by "content farms."

Marketing Plan: begin with these questions

  1. What are your business goals?
    You will have a difficult time measuring your success if you don’t know your goals. Do you have a product or service to sell? Do you want to be recognized as an expert in your field? What is your specific skill set for today’s audience?
  2. Who is your target audience?
    Who most likely wants my book, services or product? Will I sell that book online as an e-book, or do I work through a traditional publisher? Who am I trying to reach?
  3. What social media platform is my target audience using most often?
  4. How do you measure success?

Top Social Media Platforms

Not all social media platforms are appropriate for every type of business. Even though there will be some crossover of users, most platforms target a specific demographic. For instance, Facebook, the largest social media platform, acquires user data and then targets specific audiences based upon stereotypes. That’s why you see the supposedly well-targeted ads on the right side of your screen. These are based upon your likes and dislikes along with those of your “friends.” Facebook also recently integrated graph search, but we’ll let you read about it at your leisure at Tech Crunch.

For any social media platform, the goal is not to attract as many users as possible, but to attract and appeal to your target audience (recall the 80/20 rule in business). Smaller, targeted audiences tend to convert better to sales, leads, followers or audience members.

If you don’t have the time and/or resources to open up one of each type of account, you should at the very least integrate social media on your website so that readers can easily share your news through their own channels.

FACEBOOK

Facebook, as mentioned above, is a networking website, connecting you with not only friends and family, but also businesses and other like-minded people. If you only have time to manage two social media profiles, Facebook should be one of them. With Facebook’s popularity, instead of asking the question, “Who is on Facebook” these days, it’s should be “Who isn’t on Facebook?”

One more thing . . . do you use your personal Facebook profile to represent your business? Well, you shouldn’t because it’s against Facebook’s user policy. You may well be flying under the radar, but don’t get upset when Facebook decides to delete your account one day.

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ADVANCED

TWITTER

Twitter allows people to share short text messages, photos, and now short videos--check out the new Vine app for iPhone--in real-time. It’s no wonder that conventional news outlets and other media channels have seen great success on this type of platform -- because audiences/users want up-to-the-minute updates.

Twitter is a great platform for finding industry specific publishers. Many editors and publishers are already on social media platforms promoting their own online brands. Regardless your writing profession, this is one of the most cost-effective ways to get a publisher’s or editor’s attention within your subject matter. (Many garden writers have received jobs, book deals, or writing gigs from having a strong presence on Twitter.)

Twitter is also great for conversation-type events, like #gardenchat, #seedchat, #groundchat, etc.

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ADVANCED

PINTEREST

It’s no surprise that Pinterest is home for all things visual. Even First Lady, Michelle Obama, uses Pinterest to share healthy recipes. With the development of the Internet as the primary source for initial information on a particular subject, our readers have become more visual than ever. They want to see beauty, and frankly, images appeal to people's short-term attention spans . . . so using Pinterest to display your work and the work of your colleagues is essential.

Copyright infringement is a big concern for many online publishers. You can protect your online website from being pinned with a few simple plugins. Check with your web developer if this is of concern to you. If you notice your copyright-protected work making its rounds on Pinterest, you can submit a Copyright Infringement Notification on their website.

However, if you pin your images properly, you can often see real results in book sales and article “hits.” Make sure your photos are clearly marked with your copyright and even text to bring the reader to your website. Editors and publishers troll Pinterest along with Twitter to find new writers.

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GOOGLE+

Google+ may not be as widely used as other social media platforms, and you may have some trouble building a community. Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Search Engine Land, recently said, “If you care about Google (and you should), then you should care about Google+.”

TIP: Create two Google+ profiles, one for (1) your business, and another for (2) your personal profile. Choose an email that contains the root url/address of your website. You will have a much easier time setting up Google Authorship (see link below).

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ADVANCED

Your Website (Not Facebook) is Your Home Base

We’ve already established the fact that Google is looking for authoritative content. So where do you house this knowledge everyone is waiting to discover? On Facebook? NO! Every good business person will warn you not to base your business decisions on the success of someone else’s business. In the digital age of Web 2.0 this is called digital sharecropping .

Social Media is absolutely necessary if you wish to be visible and relevant to online visitors, but it should not take the place of your own website. Use social media as a tool for attracting new website visitors, then let your website turn visitors into customers/clients.

Bottom Line: If you have a business (or personality-focused brand), you should be blogging.

Measuring Success with Social Media

Have you ever heard of the “So what?” test? Basically, you ask yourself why is this important before you take any action about a metric. For instance, what does it really mean to have 3,000 Twitter followers? Vanity metrics are essentially meaningless. Is your goal to show popularity or business success?

NEEDS MORE

Recommended Resources

Staying current is critical for succeeding in the online marketplace. We recommend resources that (1) teach you about online marketing best practices, (2) improve your technical skills, and (3) elevate your critical thinking skills.

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