10 Quick Tips for Retailers to Engage in Social Media Right Now

In the last year I’ve immersed myself in social media, Chris Brogan has been a continual source of inspiration and guidance. His blog, chrisbrogan.com, is a virtual treasure trove of nuggets for social media junkies and new folks alike. Chris recently published an eBook called: Fishing Where The Fish Are: Mapping Social Media to the Buying Cycle. Today I was in a discussion with some colleagues about a client who is interested in “getting into social media.” While reading Chris’s eBook, I was inspired to jot down some very quick tactical tips and suggestions. I spun this toward retailers since it’s the space I work in but it really could apply to any company or industry. Thanks to Chris for the inspiration, who likely has written a similar list already for getting folks “plugged in.”  

10 Quick Tips for Retailers to Start Engaging in Social Media Right Now

1. Do a Google Blog search on your company’s brand, category and industry. Start doing this on a regular basis and read through the content. Start to get a pulse, subscribe to some Google Alerts on the topics.

2. Do the same search using search.twitter.com. There are lots of resources and guides on using Twitter and other microblogging platforms – but creating an account and getting acclimated is a longer term investment of time. I would start with looking for mentions and understanding what is being talked about. For that matter, Marc Meyer has a great post on many ways to listen to many sources in social media.

3. Join Facebook. Connect with friends, colleagues, get to know and understand how it works. Look for colleagues from your company and see how they are representing themselves. Are there Facebook groups mentioning your company? Does your company have a page? What about your competitors?

4. Join LinkedIn and set up your profile. Also connect with friends and colleagues. Get to know how the social network works. Understanding social networking will be important – as will the ability for customers and business partners to know you exist.  Learn about who you should connect to and who you should avoid on each network.  Here’s my view of how I scrutinize connections, but many people use social networks differently.

5. Ask around your company and find out who blogs, who is on Facebook, who is on Twitter or who is using other social media tools. You can learn a lot about social media by observing what they see and do in this space. I think you’d be surprised at how many folks in the organization already have a blog, even if it’s a personal one.

6. Start using a RSS reader like Google Reader. Search for reviews of your products or services. Find 5 sites where people are talking about them, in forums/discussions, blogs, or other sites. Subscribe to feeds from those sites to start listening.

7. Start using a bookmarking site like Delicious or StumbleUpon. Create a category or tag for blog and press mentions, and start to save/accumulate links about your company and industry.  Connect to colleagues with similar interests and see what they find.

8. Find 5 blogs in a related industry by searching in Technorati, Delicious or another bookmarking service. Read through posts, and comment on them. Be sure to disclose which company you are with if you are promoting or voicing an opinion on a product or service, including a competitor’s.

9. Go talk to Legal. Is there a corporate policy on social media? Does your industry have specific concerns about participating representing the company? Understand the guidelines and policies if they exist.  Scott Monty has talked about how this step was crucial when he joined the team at Ford as to lead their social media effort.

10. Go talk to PR. Chances are they are wrestling with understanding blogs and the importance of reacting timely to concerns. Let them know you are interested to and willing to share a voice.

a bonus tip:

11. Understand this is a journey, not a flash in the pan. Social media requires commitment and a lot of listening well before you will be in a position to come up with a case study in the space.  Just executing against this list will require some time investment.

What did I miss?  Was this helpful?  What has helped you ramp up in social media?

Photo credit: StephanGeyer via Flickr

What’s Your One Best Twitter Tip?

This is a great example of having a good twitter network. 

This morning I conducted a demo of Twitter for a colleague who is a web analytics guru (and admitted social media metrics interloper) @mpgarlock57.   I asked a question hoping for a few responses, and within minutes was inundated with some great advice.  Here is my question:

adamcohen Showing twitter to work colleagues – in 140 char, what’s the one best tip you’d recommend for a new twitter user?

In reverse chronological order, here is the complete unedited list of responses I received, all great advice.  Thanks so much to everyone who replied – it couldn’t have made for a better demo of the power of questions over Twitter.  Also thanks for @bethkanter for prompting to capture answers and suggesting a way to do it.

georgedearing @adamcohen | build up your twecosystem first..if you try to go solo you’ll crash and burn..there’s a lot of knowledge in the network

pixel8r @adamcohen – I’m still a bit green, but I’d say, try to answer Q’s or provide help when you can. Be a "real" person with a real personality.

jstorerj @adamcohen @zeldman has this advice – http://tinyurl.com/28fxv7

mindofandre @adamcohen view Twitter as a means for human interaction and not for biz only

giggey @adamcohen,find a good appl for Twitter, the right one or combination can save you loads of time.

jstorerj @adamcohen @rcasenhiser says @jstorerj don’t tweet about cat litter, no one really cares

beamcatchers @adamcohen Follow those people whose interests you share and learn

aruni @adamcohen tip for new twitterers: interact with others…don’t just stream your thoughts. Send some @’s

monawea @adamcohen keep your tweets balanced. Best Twitterers are those that offer a little business here and a little personal there.

JasonCarr @adamcohen The more you follow, the more you find.

DougH @adamcohen – Retweeting @oemperor: @DougH Someone (I forget who) said "Twitter is ephemeral." (I agree with this)

mymo @adamcohen Track ‘phrase’. Awesome for breaking news in a specific industry.

ScottMonty @adamcohen Build your network quickly – start following people and make yourself known by @’ing them.

DougH @adamcohen – Retweeting @MariaGarcia: @DougH Tip for new user: watch out it’s very addictive! VERY ADDICTIVE!

jstorerj @adamcohen visit twitterpacks to find more people to follow and add your name where appropriate – http://tinyurl.com/ysmzht

DougH @adamcohen I’ll say what @chrisbrogan told me way back: Think of Twitter as a stream. Dip in to the flow, forget it when you’re out.

jljohansen @adamcohen Start small. Follow people relevant to you and build your list from there. No need to jump in following 1,000 people.

RealtorLefebvre @adamcohen http://snurl.com/23ddr

kolson29 @adamcohen use twhirl – http://twhirl.org

nathanwburke @adamcohen Tip: Just start using twitter. No explanation in the world will convince people that it is useful. Using it is the only way.

WickedGood @adamcohen Don’t try to follow thousands of people at once. Just follow a few people who seem interesting or who you already know to start.

Suki_MHC05 @adamcohen Best Tip: Be yourself, always.

missmeaghan @adamcohen Follow many; ask and answer questions.

Thanks again to all for participating.  Just catching up?  What is your best Twitter tip?

Edit 4/8: Removed pictures; as people changed their twitter icons, the pics became broken links.  Would love to find a better way to do that…