Social Media Strategy Step 1: Find your Community Online

We’ve been working with clients on social media strategies and online PR. The next few posts cover ways to develop a social media strategy which is a part of online PR. Social media involves various communities that are online. They include everything from message boards to forums and Facebook.

Why do people visit online communities? People go to online communities mainly to have fun. They also go to socialize, build relationships, find information and share recommendations. Being involved in social media is a great way to build word-of-mouth marketing. But first you’ve got to find online communities and build trust with them.

It starts with finding your community or communities online.

Be sure to spend your time participating in communities that are potential sources of leads. Do research to see where your target audiences are spending their time online.

For example:

You may find that people on Facebook are asking each others for advice about things you’re an expert on. Using OrangeSoda as an example, people might ask how to get traffic to their web site.

Response: You can take an educational role, answering questions and providing guidance. In this example,we’d talk about optimizing a web site for search and paid search options. We’d let them know what we do to help.

You may learn that people talking about how the economy is affecting them, and their needs and responses to it. They want a product like yours but can’t afford it. This is a hot topic right now.

Response: Create or increase visibility of information that is helpful. Payment programs you have, the value of your product, etc. Or, you create a package that is priced more competitively. You offer discounts or bonuses to build value or reduce cost.

How do you find your online community? The post has a great list of tools.

Here are some of my favorites:

http://tweetreach.com – type in a topic, your branded terms, products etc. and see who’s tweeting about them most. Find the people who are most actively involved, follow them, develop a relationship with them and ask them to tweet your content.

http://www.backtype.com – BackType is a conversational search engine. They aggregate information from blogs, social networks and other social media “so people can find, follow and share comments.“ So if you find someone you want to follow on TweetReach, type their name into BackType. You’ll see and can track which communities they are actively participating in. Also see the reach of your content by entering a URL.

The next step is to find relevant blogs.