Social media is huge = understatement of the decade. Facebook and Twitter (and Tumblr, though my experience there is just about nil) are huge. They let you reach a potentially limitless audience with remarkable speed and swiftness, regardless of if you’re trying to share a link, an image, a video, what have you. Don’t underestimate social media, and if you’ve got any sense, don’t ignore it!
There are some less immediately obvious social media outlets, though. So I’ll gloss over Facebook & Twitter quickly to get to those.
Facebook & Twitter
First up: if at all possible, link a twitter account to a Facebook account so that whenever you tweet, it posts to Facebook as well. Very important note: make sure to link the related accounts. The company twitter to the company Facebook account. Keep your personal accounts out of it, but DO use your personal account to share and retweet things posted to the company’s (or event’s, etc) account. The more you can get the word spread around to as many eyes as possible online, the better.
When you’re sharing links on FB, aim for the text you add to it to be quick & interesting. It could be a summary, it could be a teaser. Also flip through the thumbnails to find the one most related to what you’re posting and/or the most interesting one. If nothing matches, don’t use a thumbnail.
When tweeting, hashtags are important. Those are the things that can help create a “brand,” it’s a phrase or word that can become associated with what you’re promoting, it’s what people might click on or search for to find posts on this product. Also use hashtags that are related to what you’re promoting. Say I’m promoting a game that has murder, FBI Agents, supernatural powers and takes place in Boston: those are all great keywords to use! #Supernatural, #murder,#FBI, #Boston, those can help me draw in attention and more eyes on than just using #cognition (although I want to use that as often as possible in conjunction with the others).
Finally, on twitter, keep your URLs short (tinyurl.com is what I usually use to shorten ’em), and try to use your hashtag words as part the sentence in your tweet. Make the most of the 140 characters!
FB & Twitter are big for reaching a large audience — but reaching a more focused audience is just as important. Forum and messageboards form around shared, specific interests, whether TV shows, roleplaying games, movies (in general or specific ones), lifestyles, you name it. Reaching out to these groups is also key because it’s targeted. You’re coming to them with something you specifically (note to self, find another word for that!) think will interest them. If you’re right, you could find yourself some very dedicated fans this way!
Important things to know about using forums:
Always read the Forum Guidelines. Even though they may allow anyone to register and post, they may have very specific guidelines about what they allow, because they don’t want to be spammed with ads. And as sincere as your intent may be, you are in fact there to “sell” them on something in the end. If you can hit up a forum where you are already known, do that, because you won’t be seen as a spammer but a peer. If you’re new to a forum and are unclear on some of their rules, contact and admin or moderator and tell them what you’d like to do. Again, make clear your sincere interest and moreover, actually be sincere about it. That both means you should have an interest in cultivating a relationship with (potential) fans, and also be honest that you are here to do promotional work. The more open and honest you are, the more they appreciate it and the less likely you’ll be banned within minutes.
Be polite. When posting, always be polite. When replying, be polite. Thank people for taking an interest. Answer questions politely. But above all, when someone swears at you, gives you a bulleted list of what’s wrong with you or your product, tells you everything you’re doing is total crap and a wretched waste of time and money and you’re the reason we can’t have nice things so go rot and die goddammit: BE POLITE. You are representing a brand, company, product, event, etc, and what you say and how you act is broadcast back on them. You can be firm, you can tell them you don’t appreciate being spoken to like that, you can tell them you’lre going to be reporting them a moderator (or banning them, if you are one), but be as polite as if this were a state dinner with national leaders and not an internet forum that may only be seen by a handful of people. Because this is still the internet, folks, and if you’re an asshole on the internet, word can get out REAL fast.
It’s hard when people tear down your hard work. I’ve suffered through this personally and you want to rage at them and swear at them and be as nasty as they’ve been to you. But that doesn’t help. Clear headedness helps, and guess what? You can’t please all the people all the time. And there’s the chance that somewhere in that nasty post is a kernel of good feedback you can actually use to improve your methods or your represented company’s efforts.
Many company sites have blogs now; you may or may not be involved in what goes on it, but if you are, make sure it looks nice. There are ways to get a wordpress blog on a site, meaning you can use all the plugins and tools available on WordPress. The blog, if a company one, should be designed to fit into their website and have a look that goes with it. You may be posting a lot of images or videos, so find plugins to present those in a very attractive and easily viewable way. For images, lightboxes are great ways to present a whole gallery — that’s the term for it when clicking an image pops it out as an inset window, and you can click arrows on either side to scroll through the images. (This post from the Phoenix Online blog is an example of a lightbox effect.)
There are more ways to do social media, and they all have their own tricks and twists. Whenever you start using new media, research it before diving in like a n00b. You want to make sure you use any and all media outreach the way they are meant to be used, so you get the most out of them. And it’s the internet, so have fun!