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September 20, 2011

6 Ways for the Newbie Marketer to Define & Create Social Media Services

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Lots of online marketers are just starting out on their own — some with lots of experience, some new to the industry altogether. That means, there are many people who are still getting a handle on the service offerings they provide while they work hard to run a small business, consult and perform online marketing for their clients. As a small business owner or consultant, it’s easy to fall into the rhythm of taking on any and all social media needs a client may have without a clearly defined social media offering. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today — how new marketers starting off on their own can begin to put some structure to their social media services and how to stay on top of what is most useful to clients.

1. Research: Add Depth to Your Social Media Offerings

Understand your clients’ needs. Do they vary from organization to organization type? By industry? By size? What about your untapped market – what are the needs of that segment? Based on all these requirements from your target consumer, what types of social media services would be the most helpful? These questions and more should serve as the basis for your research.

Companies like HubSpot and SEMPO often share reports that summarize data on what companies are looking for in their social media. This can be very telling to the marketer. In fact, two reports released this year give us insight into these requirements. SEMPO’s State of Search Marketing report and HubSpot’s 2011 State of Inbound Marketing report can be helpful for the social media marketer looking to define service offerings.

If you don’t have a ton of clients yet, as a marketer, start thinking in terms of how your own social media plan for your brand can help. Begin experimenting with social media networks to test strategies you plan to work on your clients. If you want to learn the ins and outs of Google+, go there and start playing. Run mini campaigns with your social channels on your brand so you can begin to understand features, opportunities and obstacles.

Some steps in researching social media to help define the service include:

  • Benchmarking analytics in the current social media networks you or your clients participate in. This will be telling in the end to see if your efforts moved the mark.
  • Assess current social media usage to identify patterns in time spent and focus on various channels. This will allow you to identify those channels that give the most return for time.
  • Identify new social mediums based on analytics data to help define the audiences for you or your clients. Where are the people coming from to your site? Where is your audience sharing content?
  • Identify those social media tools that will allow you and you and your clients to work smarter in your social media efforts. You’ll always need to stay on top of the tools that help you do your job best.
  • If you don’t yet have your own case studies yet, find a library of social media tips and case studies to draw from. You can learn from the process others have already been through.

2. Define: Know What Your Social Media Offering and Its Components Look Like

What will your service consist of? Does it have varying levels of implementation? How much does each service cost? Will you offer packages? What about consulting versus implementation – which will you lean towards? Once you’ve thought about the definition of the service on a high level, start thinking about the goals of each of the service offerings and social media campaigns you’ll offer. For example, what is the general goal of your Facebook ad campaign services? And so on.

3. Implement: Experience Leads to Service Concepts

The only way to get good at solving social media problems for your clients is to practice. Take all that data you uncovered in the research phase and start applying it. If you’ve found some tools you want to learn more about, sign up; find tips others are offering up for similar scenarios you face and go for it. Don’t forget to document your procedures; the bugs you’ve found in your tools, the process and so on will help you to understand what works, and will also keep your efforts organized.

4. Track: Social Media Metrics Solidify What Works in Your Offering

Once you’ve implemented experiments on both client social mediums and on your own, tracking will reveal which social media strategies work best for what scenarios. The tools you discovered during your research phase for managing social media metrics and success will help you here. In fact, you can even test which social media tracking tools work best during this phase. The tracking part of the process will help you define the services you offer because you’ll begin to see repeatable strategies for success. Want a handy reference guide for social media monitoring tools? KiSSmetrics and oneforty (acquired by HubSpot) created an infographic from survey data on the tools, functions and costs for social media management and tracking.

by KISSmetrics via

 

5. Reimplement: Take Your Tracking Data and Refine Strategy

Cut the fat from your social media offerings after the testing and tracking phases, so you can begin to focus your services on the tactics that show the most return. Continue to refine your ideas until they become your methodologies. The lessons you learn from each round of implementation and tracking will allow you to become stronger at anticipating problems for you and your clients’ social media plans. Of course, social media tactics are ever-changing, so this cycle is consistent.

6. Promote: Make Your Social Media Services Your Own

How will you position yourself as an authority on your social media services? This takes applying some of the same savvy you use for your clients social promotion to your own, plus some offline marketing tactics as well. Lots of people claim to be “experts” in social media. What does that mean to you and your business? How do you define social media? How will you differentiate yourself from the sea of competitors?

Integrate your expertise into every communication you have to start branding your competitive advantage. What are some of the things you can do to start positioning and making money from your social media services outside of just the service offering? Training? Ebooks? Speaking engagements? Since Internet marketing is a language spoken across the globe, you may also think about how your services can be adapted to fit other cultures, their business needs and education requirements.

So, while social media services certainly aren’t a one-size-fits-all fix; without some sort of structure to the services you provide to your clients, you’ll have a hard time focusing on the social media that offers the biggest wins. Without methodologies, you’ll likely also struggle with falling prey to all the latest and greatest trends and techniques everyone is talking about at the moment.

With your experiences behind you, you’ll begin to know which tactics are worth looking into and which aren’t. The key is to make the service offerings and their methodologies your own, and then share that unique expertise with the business community.

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