(continued from Part 1)

Here is how the question usually comes up:

“We’ve created our blog, our Twitter account(s), and our Facebook page. We have dedicated monitoring and workload management tools. We’re staffed, funded and ready to go. But… no one is talking to us yet, and judging from the Tickr page we built for our brand, not many people are talking about us yet either. Where do we begin?”

Great question. If you’re in that social media program start-up phase and your main objective is to establish yourself in existing communities and grow your own, there are several things you can do to help yourself. Last week, we looked at the first four (check them out here). They were:

1. Start with your analog networks.

2. Hunt for conversations.

3. Read, watch and listen more than you publish.

4. Share other people’s content.

This week, let’s look at the next four:

5. Comment on other people’s content.

This is perhaps one of the most underrated of all the social activities, and ironically one of the easiest ones to manage. Think about the progression of your tactics until now: You’ve hunted for conversations. You’ve read, watched and listened a significant amount of content, and even shared it. Almost every video, blog post, news item or presentation on the web has a comments section now. Why not engage with that content there? Did you like it? Tell the author why. Did you disagree with it or dislike it? Tell the author why. Is there an aspect of the conversation triggered by that piece of content that intrigues you? Jump in and say your piece.

Every comment you leave behind is an opportunity to make a connection. If that connection is positive, human, and touched by some sense of value, it could help open doors further down the road: discovery, collaboration, lead generation, etc. These comments also act as a trail of crumbs that can lead other commenters, visitors and even the content publishers themselves to visit your website and discover you.

“Build it and they will come,” doesn’t work for most fledgling blogs. “Comment and they will come,” however, does. If you aren’t leaving at least 10-20 comments across a variety of channels each and every day during your blog’s first semester, you are doing yourself an enormous disservice.

“How do I find content to comment on,” you ask? Easy. For starters, you can search pretty much every social network for topics and keywords. You can also use search engines to locate news stories and blog posts relating to those topics. If you want to save time though, and you want to search discussions that are relevant now rather than a week, a month or even a year ago, you could use Tickr as a search tool. Try it out and see if it makes things any easier for you. The process is easy. Just log into your Tickr account, enter a keyword or topic, and create a page for it. That’s it. Tickr will then automatically bring up mentions of that search topic for the range of channels it monitors (news, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and you can then drill down into the blogs, tweets, stories and even image updates at will. Pretty handy.

6. Join discussions.

Deliberate, structured discussions are different from typical comment threads in that they tend to be more focused, more concise, and often more constructive right from the onset. One of the best places to find them is on LinkedIn, whose groups engine is essentially fueled by discussions. These can be searched for and joined pretty much any time, so there should be no shortage of opportunities to contribute your two cents to pretty much any topic.

Another place to find healthy discussions is Twitter (in the form of #chats). You will also find them on Facebook, Google+, and branded community portals – in instances where brands create their own digital community hubs.

The point is, find discussions that are of interest to you and join them. Participate in them. Put them on your calendar and make a point to contribute, interact with others, thank the hosts, and so on. Every opportunity to make new connections and drive attention to your company is a function of organic community building, and in many cases simple lead generation as well.

7. Start and host discussions.

Once you have gotten the hang of participating in discussions, you should create one or two yourself. Don’t rush it. Take your time. Wait until it feels right. But when the time comes, do it.

Don’t just duplicate an existing discussion though. There probably isn’t a whole lot of value in redundancy. Find an angle. Make it more or less specific. Find some unique way of approaching it that will bring value to your community. It could be a conceptual discussion on LinkedIn and Facebook, like “What are some of the biggest problems that plague HR today,” or something more specific to your industry like “how do you think mobile commerce will affect candy-makers in the next 2-5 years?” On Twitter, it could be a weekly customer service chat, every Thursday at 8pm Eastern for instance, where your customer service team answers questions from users and would-be customers. It could also be a virtual town hall meeting via Google Hangout with your CEO or key managers inside the company. It doesn’t really matter what the focus of the discussion is. What matters is that you create these events, make them valuable to your community, and establish a leadership position both within the community that you have created and across the communities that you are also a member of.

This is how community leadership begins, by the way.

8. Create compelling content.

Obviously, content matters. By now, you’ve heard the battle-cry of content strategists and content marketers: “Content is king.” Well, we won’t put to fine a point on that notion here, but it’s true that content is absolutely essential to any kind of social marketing program. If you have a blog, you are going to need to fill it with content. Your tweets, Facebook updates and YouTube videos are content as well. And while most of the content that you share, like, retweet and comment on may have been created by someone else, you are going to have to create content of your own pretty regularly.

The rate of publication will vary depending on a number of factors – availability of resources, value to your community, demand for content, etc. Some businesses will find themselves publishing two to three blog posts per day while some will find that two or three blog posts per week will be the ideal frequency. The best you can do is play around and see what your community seems to respond to best. But ultimately, what matters more than frequency is quality. If you want to provide value, each and every blog post or video or bit of content you create must be valuable to someone (ideally, a lot of someones).

We hope that helps. We’ll be back with more. In the meantime, if you have any questions about Tickr, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re also on Facebook, so like us there if you want to find out what’s going on in the world of social media monitoring, big data and brand management. We would also love for you to also follow us on Twitter (our feed there is pretty fly… or so we’re told). We’re pretty good about answering questions there too. @TickrUS. That’s us.

And as always, if you haven’t taken Tickr out for a test drive yet, there’s a trial version just waiting to go out for a spin. Check it out and tell us what you think. It’s free and super easy. Don’t be shy.

Until next time, cheers.