If you are going to start using social media, you should at least have an understanding of what it's about. Social media is not about the tools, the tools are only a facilitator.
Starting with the basics. Roll your sleeves up, get dirty and stake your claim:
1) Register your domain name, preferably a dot com extension. It's also a good idea to register any variations and extensions of your domain name. Do it sooner rather than later, or you might be negotiating with a domain squatter, paying a premium in the future, rather than pennies in the present.
2) Find a good, reliable web host, and do your homework. Ask for referrals. If you are just starting out, it's okay and economical to go with the cheap shared hosting plan, I.E Godaddy. Expect to upgrade to a mid level or higher hosting package within 90 days or less.
3) Install a blogging platform, preferably Wordpress. Find and install the necessary plugins, themes and widgets. Installing a caching-system plugin is also a good idea. You need to optimize not only just for search engines, but also page loading time. Find a simple theme and build around it. KISS is always a good rule of thumb.
4) Customize your permalink structure immediately. By default, WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them. This will severely limit the amount of traffic you will see from search engines. Change your permalink formatting to the following markup: (day and name) yourblog.com/blog/2008/10/25/sample-post/
5) Create an about page. Tell people what your blog is about, and most importantly what you're about. Put a nice head shot of yourself on the about or profile page. Make sure to include any awards or recognition that may be relevant about the author. Give people an email address to email you, rather than an online form. Add your primary social networking badges and urls on your contact page. Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter should be a starting point. I would also create a blogroll. It can be on your sidebar, or a separate page, but it should exist somewhere on your blog.
6) Install analytic software, such as Google Analytics. It's a good idea to have at least two stats packages installed and running. All analytic software is not created equal, they all have the same purpose, but vary in their reporting and tracking methods. Results will vary to an extent, comparison of multiple data sources is vital.
7) Give people the tools to promote your content. Social promotional buttons make it easy for your visitors to Digg, StumbleUpon, and share your content. Bring the good word back to your blog. For instance, if you're active on FriendFeed you should install the FriendFeed comments and likes plugin on your blog.
8 ) Establish a Feedburner account. Provide easy visibility for new RSS subscribers, use text links in addition to graphics to promote your RSS feed You can also add an email subscription form on your site. People who do not use feed readers, will be emailed your latest postings.
9) Focus and be consistent with your blogging. Most professional bloggers get paid per post. Don't be intimidated or feel forced to compete with them. Work at your own pace. Quality takes time, plain and simple.
10) Build as many social passports as possible. Passports are basically the profiles that you build on the various social platforms. These profiles all should be consistent, and most importantly point back to your blog or website. The goal is to create as much organic link juice as possible. The core target is search engines. Consistently update these profiles, and use tools such as ping.fm to update them.
11) Leave thoughtful and constructive comments as much as possible on other blogs. Don't stop there, post comments on Facebook walls, FriendFeed, and Twitter. This promotes good practices in social media, and it also gives you an opportunity for exposure and link placement. This can lead into new networking opportunities and potential new friendships.
12) Establish and actively use your Google Reader account. This perhaps is the most powerful tool in any social media arsenal besides a blog or microblogging platform, such as Twitter. I will outline more in detail as we get further down the list.
13) Find the top 50 blogs in your space, and subscribe to their RSS feeds in Google Reader. Consistently be on the lookout for new blogs, and the voices behind them.
14) At this point you should already have a Twitter account. If not, establish one. If your objective is personal branding, your Twitter username should be your name. Otherwise you could brand your twitter username the same name as your blog. Remember consistency with all your profiles is key.
15) Work smarter not harder. Use the tools to help you manage and stay ahead of the pack.
16) Listen to what's being said about you. Create Google alerts to monitor for positive or negative chatter.
17) Link out as often as possible when the circumstances permit it. If you are writing a post on a related subject, always look for a chance to reference a fellow bloggers work. This is not only good blogging etiquette, but will also put you on that persons radar in a positive way.
18) Build relationships with key influencers in all the communities and platforms that you participate on. Relationships take time to develop and grow in time. One good example on how to do this, is listed above at #17.
19) The material that you create should be something that people want to share. For the most part, it should be relevant to your networks’ interests. Create newsworthy, thoughtful, intelligent content that has immediate usefulness.
20) Become an expert in your field. Try to align and surround yourself with the best tools, and people to accomplish this. It's all about networking, networking and networking. Take it offline when permitting. Organize local social media meetups and tweetups. Make it an effort to attend trade shows when possible.
21) Don't knock it until you tried it at least once. Be open to trying new multimedia applications that enable self promotion, audience engagement, brand retention and participation. Experiment with podcasting, creating video, slide shows, or creating and posting any type of original user generated content.
22) Solicit not only your peers for feedback, but your audience. Ask your readers to submit feedback for site improvements, ideas on new topics to blog about, follow ups on previous topics, participation in polls etc.
23) Good content speaks for itself, and is recognized. Let others promote your content and only promote your best stuff. Ask your twitter followers to spread the word by re-tweeting good posts. Be sure to do the same for others.
24) Promote others, even more than you promote yourself. Practice this, and it will come back to you tenfold.
25) Use Google Reader to share and promote your own work, as well as your core networks content. Don't limit yourself, share complete strangers work too. Good content needs to be rewarded, recognized and distributed through the appropriate channels and relevant communities.
26) Hopefully you will already have at least one active social bookmarking account established. Delicious, Diigo, Ma.gnolia, any of these will do. Open accounts on all three of these services. Make Diigo your primary account for bookmarking. By doing this, you can use a Diigo feature that allows you to bookmark to all three services simultaneously.
27) Establish accounts on Stumbleupon, and any social news sites such as Digg, Reddit and Mixx.
28) In addition to sharing content with Google Reader, be sure to StumbleUpon, good blogs, or websites. StumbleUpon is key for traffic and exposure. You can expect a large spike in traffic initially, then gradually it tapers off within a few days. You can expect long term traffic from SU, albeit in dribs and drabs.
29) Tag your media, especially blog posts and bookmarks. Social bookmarking, video and image sharing sites also serve as search engines, therefore tag accordingly. The traffic comes in dribs and drabs, but it's targeted traffic nonetheless. Every click counts. Same applies to any other forms of media you create, including videos you publish on Youtube, Vimeo. Images you publish on Flickr, podcasts, etc.
30) Blog postings, bookmarks, Flickr images and so forth should all be imported into a social content aggregation site, such as FriendFeed.com
31) Be omnipresent on all the networks. I should be able to find out about your latest happenings, and or statuses if I am browsing your Facebook profile, Linked profile, Twitter or FriendFeed stream.
32) Use the cloud to your benefit. Work more efficiently by using online applications to manage and organize the workload.
33) Take full advantage of all the Google services that are offered. Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Notebook, Google Reader and so forth. These services are all web based, and offer sharing and group collaborating features. You can also import the data publicly via RSS, and an html page via your Google Reader shared link blog. Bottom line is, most of your Google data is easily accessible, manageable and integrateable with the web.
34) It can take months even years to see successes. Stay consistent and focused with your social media strategy. Adapt when necessary, and do not be afraid to take calculated risks.
35) Do not ignore the simple concept of “transparency.” Personalize your brand. People relate to people much more effectively than they can a logo or commoditized brand.
Any additional thoughts?
Read more by Mike Fruchter at MichaelFruchter.com.