This post is by SmartBrief on Social Media contributing editor Ben Whitford.
Martha Stewart may be best known for her cupcakes, but she also knows a thing or two about social media. Despite claiming to spend only five minutes a day on Twitter, the media mogul and founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has accumulated almost 2 million fiercely loyal followers in addition to her 72,000 Facebook fans.
At Monday’s TWTRCON in New York City, Stewart left a standing-room-only crowd of social marketers captivated while she held forth on everything from punctuation to poutine — and shared her thoughts on using social tools to expand a business. Here are her top four tips.
- Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. At its core, Stewart said, social marketing is about finding your own voice and communicating your brand’s personality. “Authenticity is extremely important in all social media,” she explained. That means no ghost-writing, but it also means that you shouldn’t feel pressured to comply with other people’s ideas about how you should express yourself. An example: Stewart likes to write in unpunctuated streams, and sometimes even in block capitals, though some tell her it’s against the rules. “Who the heck made these rules?” Stewart said. “That’s the way I type. It’s charming.”
- Find yourself a good co-pilot. Throughout her keynote, Martha Stewart tossed questions and remind-me-later asides at Eliad Laskin, her all-purpose technical guru. Laskin helps Stewart with everything from captioning photos to using technical tricks to grow her following on Twitter, and Stewart has even been known to dictate tweets over the phone when she’s unable to reach her iPad. That streamlines the process and leaves Martha with her hands free to focus on the really important stuff — like figuring out how to simmer a complicated recipe down to 140 characters.
- Go where your customers are — and remember that everyone’s a customer. Different social platforms attract different crowds, and they’ve all got something to offer your business. Instead of picking one platform, Stewart advises finding ways to adjust your pitch to reach the different communities that form online. Stewart has found that her Facebook fans tend to be most interested in fashion, while Twitter users love recipes and the sense that they’re having a real conversation with her. The most important thing, Stewart said, is to be responsive and respectful, and not to sneer at groups you’re not actively involved with. “You have to say that everyone’s fabulous,” Stewart said.
- Let the tail wag the dog. A good social strategy involves a willingness to experiment and an openness to letting your business follow wherever those experiments lead. Stewart points to the Daily Wag, a blog she runs that features photos and first-person updates from her beloved French bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey. The apparently frivolous site’s reception led Stewart to run sponsored webisodes featuring the pups, and eventually, to develop a pet-products line in partnership with PetSmart. “That all started with a blog,” Stewart says. “If it’s there, try it — that’s my motto.”