Agile and precise, packed with skills of stealth, quick reactions, passion, and specialist tactics for whatever the circumstances demand. This generally sums up what people imagine ninjas to be all about and, in digital marketing, everyone wants to be one, in one form or another.

But what pointers do you need to follow to train yourself to engage in the ongoing battleground of social media?

1. Preparation

You need to do your homework. It’s no good rushing in, without a clue about what your overall business goals are. 

Once these have been established, then you can figure out what place (if at all) social media has in helping reach your objectives. Leading on from this, it will also become easier to identify key areas of engagement and therefore allow you to focus on the areas that will be of greater benefit. Econsultancy’s Social Media Template Files contain a strategy guideline that you might find useful as a starting point. 

2. Patience

As the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same thing applies to any social media activity: it generally takes a fair bit of time to establish a positive presence. 

In creating any online presence, levels of trust need to be established. Especially given that social media generally requires a two-way engagement between users and your organisation, it could take a while before you begin to see your objectives being met. 

Be patient and don’t panic. If your strategy is solid, then you’ll start seeing results

3. Weapons

Your chosen social media weapons should be selected by your strategy, objectives and overall business structure. Don’t use something just because it looks cool. For example a blog may be a lot more beneficial than using Facebook in delivering regular updates to your users, or Twitter as a customer service platform may be more help than user reviews. 

There’s a lot of choice out there, but more importantly, there’s also a lot of advice to help you choose what might be best and how to use it effectively

4. Stealth

Sometimes it works to your advantage to keep things quiet. If you’re planning to engage in social media, it can often help to start off small and find your feet, otherwise you might end up looking extremely silly. This is why it’s important to treat social media as a process of evolution. Why spread yourself across twenty different channels badly, when you can easily manage only a couple with great results? 

5. Honour

Protect your organisation. Carefully monitor what people are saying about you both directly and indirectly – and think before you act. This applies to both responding to users and to your general social media activity

6. Aggression

Don’t be shy. Be active, go to events, network online and offline, ask questions. Experiment (carefully – see point 4). If Rome wasn’t built in day, it was almost certainly built with a bit of backbone. Being aggressive in social media doesn’t necessarily mean intrusive or threatening… it can equally mean being bold and dynamic. Which direction of aggression you take is up to you. 

7. Cunningness 

Be tactical. More often than not, organisations join a social media channel because they see their competitors there… but they fail to establish whether it’s working or not.

Observe where others are going wrong and step in with a better approach or side-step it altogether. For example, a financial institution is more likely to have better engagement through LinkedIn, than it by jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.

8. Skill

Practice makes perfect. Hone your social media skills by continuously educating yourself, reviewing your existing strategy and performance and by experimenting. (See point 6). 

9. Calmness

Things can go wrong. And they often do.

Not panicking is the key to success. It doesn’t matter if a user is being negative (or even your own staff) or your social platform has crashed, things can be rectified. 

10. Style

Social media is pretty cool. And it can make an organisation or a business look good… but making a half-baked effort will backfire.

If you have all the right foundation points in place, you can carry off a stylish social media presence with ease: there’s a lot of companies already doing it, so there’s no excuse. 

What points did I miss? What tips or pitfalls can you add to the ninja school of social media? Leave your comments below. 

[Image by jonathanb1989 via Flickr, various rights reserved]