In my opinion these ten steps will help you achieve branding and social media marketing success.
The pre-planning I'm talking about is what I consider your number one brand asset and that is your website. Your website is your hub with all social media channels as the spokes; your website must be more than just a brochure on the web; it has to be interactive; with resources -- articles, blogs, news items, a hook, etc. Your website is your rock, your anchor, your number one asset for your business. If you don't put the time, energy and yes money into creating, designing, and molding it into what you are all about and sharing valuable information with the community and market to the right people you are trying to reach, then you won't be found.
Buy a domain name in your name regardless if you are going to use it (get one for kids too); Domain name should represent you and what you do -- you'll need to be creative as the dot com's are getting fewer and fewer.
Identify your brand -- your personality and values; what makes you different/unique? Who are you? What do you do? And Who Do you do it for? Be honest with yourself; look at yourself in the mirror and ask what I'm I all about? What are you passionate about? Fred McClimans -- the basis of a successful strategy has to reflect (and reinforce) the core drivers and values of the business. If you can identify who the business is, the value proposition it wants to deliver (the benefit a business brings to its customers, not just a product or service) then you have the foundation of a brand. Another perspective: be true to who you are.
Define your audience on social media -- where are they? (clients, business partners, etc). Do a search on various social networks to find your audience, customers. See what they are talking about -- can you be successful on those networks? Will they be interested in what you are sharing?
Set goals and expectations (sales leads, clients, customer service, networking); what is it that you want out of social media channels. What is your strategy? Joe Pulizzi -- social media strategy first starts with a content strategy. Create a compelling, consistent content initiative that answers problems (real or conceived) and position your organization as the go-to resource. Social, search and lead generation initiatives start with a content strategy first.
Identify which social media channels based on Step 2 to utilize to achieve your goals (not etched in stone as you may need to be flexible in re-acquiring an audience that might transition from Facebook to Twitter, to Google +)
Establish your brand on social media -- Why - Recruiters, Networking, Word of mouth marketing, global competition. How do you do that for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Follow and comment on the top 10 -- 20 blogs, LinkedIn groups, forums, etc where your customers are at. Be consistent with your brand across all social media networks.
Find like-minded individuals, clients, competitors, etc on social media channels.
Engage in conversation -- be positive, ask questions; build trust in your brand; Jim Cole -- Be reliable. Reliable advice that delivers long-term benefits to a brand. Share valuable information -- information, analysis, etc.-- do a Twitter search for a particular subject or hashtag and Politely and respectfully respond to topics that you can share your knowledge
Manage your brand through social media tools such as Hootsuite, use Google alerts, Twitter search, Buffer app, IFTTT.Com; Monitor your brand through Google alerts, Mention, and social search -- such as Twitter, Google trends, Google blogs searches.
Market your products and services -- notice how this is step nine? Imagine walking up to someone at a cocktail party and having that person say -- hey how are ya? Do you want/need my EP services? Start the relationship first in Step 7 -- this takes time to cultivate!
Hone your process; tweak, as new social media channels are established you may need to establish your brand (Google +,Path, Foursquare, Yelp, Chime.in, Quora, Instagram) -- you will need to diversify your brand to several channels to gain maximum exposure -- but do so with a plan.