It’s time to teach that old dog some new tricks.
That old dog I’m referring to is social media.
Sure, you’re already blogging, and on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and more. Great.
But I’m telling you — there’s more to social media than meets the eye. The final chapter on social media hasn’t been written.
When I kicked off my writing business in April, I decided to use social media my way.
I approached these overused networks as if I’d never heard of them. I made my own rules. I set different expectations. You could say I wrote my own chapter on social media marketing.
It made my website — and my business — better.
Here’s what I came up with, and how you can incorporate these features into your own marketing plan.
1. YouTube: For a bit of drama
YouTube’s not just for viral cat videos and covers of Justin Bieber songs.
I uploaded images of my best-looking writing clips, then stitched together a video portfolio on iMovie. (Take screen shots or scan documents if you don’t have original files.)
I like to think of it as my “me trailer” complete with sound effects, music, and dramatic editing.
Once I posted it to YouTube, I embedded it on my website and added a burst that says, “Click Here to See My Trailer!”
It’s super nerdy. It’s unconventional. It’s me.
Most importantly, it advertises my services in a fresh way and shows all of my specialties in less than three minutes. It’s not about getting the most YouTube views, it’s about getting business.
And it has Star Wars references. (Not required for success.)
Takeaway: Videos make your site more interesting and show your personality. A welcome video can introduce clients to your site. A video biography can turn you from a static picture into a new friend. Most computers, cameras, or phones provide all of the movie-making software you need.
2. Foursquare: For showing off
The location-based site and mobile app lets users “check-in” to venues like restaurants, famous landmarks, and their own homes in pursuit of badges and points.
Foursquare users can friend others and also follow their favorite brands’ pages. Upon unsuspectingly checking in to one of the brand’s favorite venues, a tip will pop up from said brand.
I took advantage of this feature and created my own brand page on Foursquare. But what kind of tips would I share with my followers? The best places to find free wi-fi around the world. Who doesn’t enjoy a free connection, plentiful plugs, and good coffee?
Now when people follow my page and check in to a location near one of my top wi-fi spots, a little pop-up box on their Foursquare app will remind them of my business and how helpful I am.
I even created a Foursquare venue for my writing business. So other nearby businesses — the original The Onion headquarters is steps away — know that I’m here. And I’m ready to rock.
Takeaway: Maybe you’re a movie critic who knows the best theaters around the country. Or a fashion blogger who knows all the top boutiques in New York City. Or a roaming travel writer who knows the best cheap eats from coast to coast. Share’em on your favorite social review site.
3. Pinterest: For going viral
Are you obsessed with Pinterest yet? Pin + interest = Pinterest. It’s a digital pin board site where users “pin” their favorite images to themed boards. You can follow other users’ boards and “re-pin” their content.
I run a little travel blog on the side because I’m working on breaking into travel writing. Pinterest and its cult following seemed like the perfect place to showcase my own travel photography in hopes of a little viral action.
So I created a Pinterest account for my travel blog and I pinned my images to boards like “Pretty Travel Pics” and “Must-Do Travel Experiences.”
I pinned other people’s images, too. This isn’t all about me — you gotta show some love to get some love.
My personal photography has been re-pinned oodles of times and every pic links back to my travel blog. Instant traffic.
If I’m lucky, my pins will appear on the Pinterest home page. Just another unusual way to get my name out there.
Takeaway: Image-based sites like Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram aren’t just for photographers. If you’re a food blogger, showcase pics of your best recipes. If you’re a tech reporter, gather images of your favorite gadgets.
4. Facebook: For looking important
Every business has a Facebook page, but why did my business need one?
I decided to designate my official Facebook page as a newsfeed of all the things I’ve written.
It’s a vertical version of my portfolio and another way potential clients can see what I’ve been working on — especially what I’ve been working on this week.
Sure, the page won’t get a whole lot of ‘likes’ and my mom is the only person who ‘likes’ my posts regularly (thanks, Mom!), but that’s not the goal of my Facebook page.
It’s there to display my latest clients and clips. And to show that I know how to build Facebook pages – I’m a social media consultant after all.
Takeaway: There’s a cookie cutter social media plan that’s been set in front of us all. But if it doesn’t make sense for your business, don’t follow it.
5. Amazon Associates: for bragging
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program for Amazon.com products. Create an online store (complete with your own URL), fill it with hand-picked items, and you’ll get money for each completed purchase.
I decided to create my own “aStore” as they’re called, not to make money but to show off my latest books and the publications I’m featured in.
I’m simply taking advantage of Amazon’s free social shopping features for my own benefit. I don’t want the money.
I uploaded a branded header image similar to the image on my Foursquare page, Facebook page, and website.
I created a page called “Aubre Andrus Books” and included text explaining that I have five books coming out over the next two years.
I’m able to brag without looking like I’m bragging. And when my books come out, I’ll have a stocked store. Impressive, right?
Takeaway: There are a lot of free widgets and plug-ins out there that can make your business better. Don’t let a little html or an affiliate contract scare you.
Now, it’s your turn …
Choose the social networks that excite you, then throw the rules to the wayside.
This is all about doing it your way.
How do you use social media differently?
Do you use Google+ or Twitter in a way that make you stand out from the competition? Share your strategies in the comments below!