Social Media Marketing From Start to Finish

Managing Social Media From Start to Finish from Lorna Li on Vimeo.

The video covers social media marketing best practices – tips on creating a well managed social media strategy and plan:

1) Defining your social media strategy
2) Mapping your social media universe
3) Identifying the best social networks for your industry
4) Promoting content and launching social media marketing campaigns
5) The relationship between social media and search engine optimization (SEO)
6) Prioritizing and managing social media engagement

Lorna Li (LL): Hi there! My name is Lorna Li, and I’m here to talk to you about Social Media Marketing from start to finish. Social media as you know can be both a valuable marketing channel or a total time suck. Social media is all about relationships and real conversations. So if you can imagine the social web being a big cocktail party where everyone’s meeting each other and having great conversations you can’t just barge into the room and shout buy more widgets”. First of all you’ll be ignored, you’ll probably also annoy a lot of people, and finally you’ll probably be asked to leave. So I want to help you understand how to create a well managed social media strategy and plan and share with you some of the best practices.

You want to begin by defining your social media strategy, what goals do you want accomplished and what resources do you have at your disposal. You want to map your social media universe by understanding what different types of social media channels are out there and where your target market tends to hang out. From there you want to identify the specific social networks where you want to maintain a presence and establish relationships. As you begin building relationships and engage in conversations then you can share your content or launch a social media marketing campaign or more.

In order to asses what’s working you’re going to need to establish some benchworking metrics and track campaign performance. By looking at your social media metrics you can then begin to prioritize and manage your social media marketing engagements.

LL: So let’s talk about defining your social media strategy. First of all you’d want to evaluate your resources. Who do you have to work on your social media program? Is it you? Is it you and an Intern, or do you actually have an agency and the budget to hire one or work with one in a course or period of time? Then you’d want to analyze your target audience. This will include both the demographic as well as the psychographic analysis. You’ll want to identify your particular campaign goals and objectives. What do you want to do, do you want to increase traffic, do you want to grow membership or is it all about increasing advertising click-thrus, and then you’d want to establish your metrics.

As you can see the social media landscape is pretty vast. So in order to map your social media universe you’ll have to think about where your audience lives. Is your target audience mostly big readers of blogs and online publications or are they actually active on twitter and do they participate in other micro blogging communities? Are they always forums and discussion boards or do they frequent many different kinds of certain networks? Are they avid social bookmarking fanatics or do they frequently surf social news sites? Are they always plugged into social music sites or are they always surfing video and photosharing sites or are they big fans of Wikis?

Once you identify what social media channels influence your target audience, then you’d want to identify the actual social networks where you’d want to build your presence. So, I recommend a twofold approach. You’d certainly want to establish you presence among the masses. These days some of the most common social networks where you will find a vast population of people include Facebook at a hundred million people and growing, Twitter is rapidly hitting the mainstream, and LinkedIn is THE premiere business networking site in North America however in Europe it might be another site like Secondly you’d want to identify the social networks for your niche. So are there specific industries… Are there industry specific social networks and forums where your target market tends to be? Are there A-list blogs and online publications that speak to your audience, if so, what are they? Who are the industry influencers? Where do they spend their time? Do they have their own blogs and are they on Twitter? If so, you should probably connect with them there and begin engaging with them, getting to know them, and participating in their conversations.

Here is a chart of the top 20 networking sites created by Neilsen Online for 2008. And here’s the example of a niche social network for the B2B publishing industry. As you can see that it’s got a pretty robust membership base of about four thousand plus people, and you can also take a look at the activity. You can notice that the audience is actively participating in this network. So that’s a really good sign.

So here’s some tips on evaluating social networks and whether worth your time to actually be there. First of all, you’d want to look at the site activity. How many members does it have? What does the member activity look like? What kind of relationships are being created? Who was last friends with whom? What is the frequency of posting and commenting, and very importantly, when was the time and date of the last comment? Was it an hour ago or was it a week ago? Then you want to look at the number and type of content created and are they interesting, relevant blog posts or is it all about, go read about the latest diet craze and visit my blog to learn more about it now!”. Take a look at also the number of discussion threads that are going and how many people are participating. A great indicator of a quality site would be the number of RSS subscriptions, so clearly if there is a really big content being generated in that site, then you’re going to have a high number of RSS subscribers.

So once you begin establishing yourself in the different communities and start to get to know the community members and engaging conversations and build relationships, then you’re ready your content. However I would recommend that as you are beginning to establish yourself, it’s a good idea to at the same time begin by taking inventory of what content you have to share. So evaluate your content and figure out, ok, what do you have? Do you mostly have articles and blog posts? Do you have a line of images or a vast repository of video or PowerPoint presentations? Or do you happen to have a lot of white papers, Ebooks and downloadable PDF’s? Take a look at all of that and then work on making your content discoverable via social media sites. Upload your videos to YouTube. If your videos are not in a format that is compatible with YouTube, then you should really, seriously think about getting your videos in a compatible format. Because YouTube is probably the largest video… It is the largest video discovery site and if you have your videos there, you will reach a bigger audience. You’d want to upload PowerPoint presentations to SlideShare and consider using something like Twitter Feed to auto publish to your Twitter profile. You can upload downloadable documents to Scribd and take advantage of ways that you can consolidate your social media feeds to another social site for example like FriendFeed.

Afterwards, I would then say actively begin promoting your content to the community. Tweet regularly and often, and engage the bloggers, share your content on Facebook and while you’re doing all this I want to remind you that social network and SEO also go hand in hand.

LL: Social Media optimization is something to really consider seriously. A lot of people when they engage in social media they usually take at social media from a PR standpoint and you know, PR is really great and all, but you’re missing out on a huge benefit which is the enhanced search engine visibility that viral contain can bring. So social media and SEO are powerful when combined, make sure that your content is keyword rich and you can use it by including keywords in titles and headings, keywords in the contents, make sure that you have keywords in the link text that’s linking back to your content and also make sure that you’ve tagged generously and make sure that you use keyword rich tags. That way if your content is shared or goes viral you’ll be able to get the benefits of search engine visibility and traffic.

So here’s a great visualization of the synergy between social media marketing and SEO. Created by my friend Lee Auden of TopRank Blog. Now let’s talk about social media metrics, here’s a number of ways of which you can track the performance of your social media campaigns. So there’s a number of metrics that you should look out for in third party social media sites. That includes the number of submissions and comments, number of friends, fans and members over time. You can check out the number of photo and video views, of course number of subscribers with emails and RSS, it’s a good indication of how your campaigns are doing. You can track the number of blog comments and wall comment, number of trackbacks, hashtags, and of course most importantly the number of percentage increase in organic traffic.

You can also check your own website analytics for number of page views, visits and unique visitors, referring data for example which social media sites send the most traffic. Time on site and bounce rate will tell you whether that is quality traffic. Of course your search engine keywords are important especially if you’re expanding and they are… you can see that relationship between those keywords and the contents that you’re putting out on the social web, and of course if you’re more advanced and you’ve set up goal conversion you can see whether the social media traffic is actually converting for you.

LL: There’s a number of monitoring tools and measurement tools that can help you track your campaign metrics. So, some of the social media monitoring tools out there include, SocialMention which is a social media social monitoring tool or search engine that basically [IB] different social media sites. Google Alerts also helps you get alerts for your keywords and to write email but there turns to be a little bit of delays for Google Alerts its not… for some people it’s not fast enough. There’s also Twitter Search as well, or TweetBeep which is like a Google Alerts for Twitter. Boardreader tracks forum discussions and so… coComment is also another tool that people use and if you happen to have a robust budget for this kind of thing you might want to try a enterprise solution like Radian 6. Some other really important that you should also be using most certainly your website analytics, are the Google Analytics, Omniture or whatever your site is using, and a great click tracking tool is the URL shortener called

So let me tell you a little bit more about is a URL shortener where you could basically grab a really long URL and create a tiny URL out of it. What’s really great about it is that you can also give it an optional custom name which allows you to stick some keywords into this tiny URL. Also within the interface you can connect it with your Twitter account and then you can post directly to Twitter. What I love about is that it also allows… it also assigns each tiny URL with a permanent 301 redirect, so that if anyone ever links to your tiny URL, the original link will actually get the link use from that. What’s also great about is that you can actually see how many people clicked on your content and if you click on info you can see more information about, for example, demographics geographic location and how many people retweeted your content.

However, your best friend is really your web analytics tool I like Google Analytics myself because it has great data, and even better, it’s free. So you can see with this example, Twitter seems to be driving a lot of traffic to the site and of course Delicious, the social bookmarking site is also the 2nd runner up. So definitely when, you know, access your website analytics you can go ahead and look at the referrer section it’ll tell you which social media sites are driving the most traffic to your own website and that’ll help you prioritize where to engage.

LL: Now prioritizing social media is always a challenge because it can be time consuming. So depending on your level of social media engagement, you will want to… you will be able to spend less time or more time on it. For many companies social media marketing is a full time job. In fact, large companies may actually need a team of ambassadors to represent the different company departments out in the social web. However that doesn’t mean that if you’re a small or medium business, you can’t have a social media program as well. If you’re an SMB you can still have a team of ambassadors but you’re going to need to divvy up the work. So let me tell you about the different levels of engagement for a typical social media program. The first level is listen, so be prepared to listen to your audience about 5 hours a week. Use social media monitoring tools to do this, and get into the habit of listening daily. Understand what’s being said about your company and your industry.

Now if you want to begin to participate then you should probably budget about 10 hours a week because you’re going to want to engage in meaningful, authentic conversations. From there you can begin to share and promote your contents so factor in about 10 to 20 hours a week, build trust with your community, be distributing content on the social web and make sure that you’re measuring results. If you’re moving into the community building and social networking side of things then be prepared to dedicate about 20 hours a week to this as you continue to grow and strengthen your network and build relationships and identify more people in your audience that are really passionate about your industry and what you do.

LL: So here’s some best practices for small companies. Does social media seem to time consuming for you? If so, then think about these ways in which you can better manage the time investment. You can divide and conquer, so assign an individual to manage each channel. So if you have someone who is really, a great event organizer then have them on Facebook. If you have someone that’s a meticulous, detail oriented person then you could have them perhaps work on social network bookmarking in If you have someone who is a great communicator and awesome wordsmith then have them be writing posts on your blog and communicating out with your Twitter community. You can also Co-Tweet, so take turns in chatting with your community. You can hire interns to help you find stakeholders and to grow your community and of course, wherever you can I would recommend automating. There’s a number of social media productivity tools at your disposal to help you with that.

LL: Some social media productivity tools include an explosion of Twitter productivity tools. There are so many Twitter tools and Twitter Apps out there its just overwhelming. Here’s some pretty useful ones that I found. Tweetdeck will help you group the people that you’re following to different groups. Twitterfeed will host your blogposts to your Twitter account and helps you automate how often those Tweets go out and you could use SplitTweet if you’re managing multiple Twitter accounts at the same time. There are some tools that will actually help you update multiple server networks at the same time that includes and and then Friendfeed is a great abrogator of many social media RSS feeds.

LL: So there you have it, Social Media Marketing from Start to Finish. Thank you very much for joining me. You can reach me at @lornali on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn. Feel free to also visit my website or shoot me an email. Thanks a lot and bye for now.

This post was written by:

Lorna Li

Lorna Li is a social media and green marketing expert. She enjoys helping green businesses and nonprofits with bootstrap marketing, as well as helping job seekers leverage social media for personal branding.

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