The Social Media Tree- Part 1: The Roots

There is life in every part of the world including the darkest caves and driest deserts. We know things can grow in even the harshest conditions but we often don’t know the best conditions for what we want to grow. Knowing what you want to harvest will determine where you plant your seeds. Also, your yield will suffer without having your materials and resources aligned before you start. Success depends on understanding the required elements and how they work together. We’re still talking about social media right? Yes!

This social media tree analogy is meant to help elucidate and connect some essential strategy and resource planning efforts. We will cover a number of topics in 3 parts.

Plant Seeds & Develop Roots.

Seeds have almost all they need to grow within themselves. Just add light, water, and nutrients to start the process. The roots grow outwards looking for food while they anchor themselves to the ground. They are hidden from view but do much of the work in the early stages. This is your owned media (i.e. your website, SEO, social media pages and other outlets you control) and it is essential to your social media strategy. Without a solid foundation, you will not be able to support your trunk and limbs. Here are the questions you should ask about your owned media “roots”:

• Are we in the right soil? Your website may be on the wrong platform based on your goals. This is particularly important for ecommerce companies. As you build your site, keep in mind how your customer will use it: What pages are most important for them to see? How will they get to those pages? How will Google (your top customer online) index your pages? Take a look at this example. Here are two plants that were started at the same time:

The plant on the left was grown hydroponically and the one on the right was grown conventionally. Hydroponics is where the plant roots are exposed to nutrient rich water instead of soil. The roots of the soil based plant have to push and fight through their substrate to find nutrients. The results are clear. Pushing and fighting to get your square-peg strategy activated on your round-hole website will cost you time, money, and stress. Keeping with the plant analogy, you can’t grow a pine tree in the desert or a cactus in a swamp.

• Do we have room to grow? It amazes me how few companies have reliable access to their own websites. You may want to add more pages, new functionality, or even just add tags. Can you make the changes you want when you want? You may also be growing your audience. Can your host support the growth you require? If you’ve ever purchased those mini basil plants from the supermarket you know they need water every day or they will die. However, if you plant them in a larger pot, they will be fine. The increased volume will support more water and nutrients. The roots have room to spread. Again this is very important for ecommerce groups. Ecommerce platforms offer room for growth but after a few million dollars of revenue growth, you’ll want to move on. That’s when you call someone like our friends at Fit For Commerce who will help you find a new pot for your roots.

• Are we getting the nutrients we need? So now that you are on the right platform and you have access to edit your site; how can you make it flourish? Just as plants need nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and a host of other nutrients, your website needs inbound links, needs to be indexed, needs keywords, and needs to host sharable content. Here are 5 steps to healthy owned media (roots):

1) Persona Development

Build a profile for each of your target customers complete with a picture, name, and buying behaviors. Knowing your customer is key. Having well developed personas is basis for the rest of these steps. Everything comes back to your customer preferences.

2) Keyword Research

Once you know who you are trying to talk with, you can begin keyword research to find words you have a chance at ranking for.

3) Editorial planning

When you start to fill in your editorial calendar, add in key dates such as holidays, industry news and anything that matches your audience and keywords. Here’s a link to our post on editorial calendars.

4) Content Development

Only now can you start creating content. Blog posts, videos, images, guides, infographics, and more. Your personas will determine which networks you want to join. The Twitter audience and the Vine audience can be very different. Not only do you want to create content often, you want it to be tailored to the venues you are using.

5) Sharing

Content has to be sharable. This means that the story is something others will want to hear but it also means your platform needs the capabilities required to make sharing possible.  There are many tools to add to your site that allow for sharing across networks. Ensure you track the statistics on these clicks so you know which networks your audience likes. You may have to revise your strategy based on those numbers.

In part 2 we will talk about Emergence. Now that your roots are in good shape, what happens as you start to break through the ground into the world? Stay tuned!