There’s a groundswell of companies which are all clamouring to get their companies onto Facebook and Twitter because that’s what you do, right? If you don’t have a Facebook profile you’re just SO last century. If you want to be serious in the market today you’ve got to exploit social media; add a ‘like us on Facebook’ button, make a profile and you’re set right?
Someone somewhere in marketing finally gets their voice heard when they say that the company needs to engage with social media, someone on the board gets to hear about it and so schedules a meeting with a local self styled ‘social media whizz-kid’. They’ll come up with three options, none of which will really be suitable but the client will get paid and the board can knock ‘Social Media’ off of the to do list.
So what are the three unsuitable choices?
Option One: Do as little as possible. The board thinks social media is a flash in the pan so doesn’t want to get too involved in case it all blows up in their face. Put a ‘Like us on Facebook’ or a ‘Follow us on Twitter’ button on the existing website. There you go, that’s fixed.
Option Two: develop a new website that is totally Facebook and Twitter friendly. The boss believes that social media is the new one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. If the website ties in well with the platforms then it’ll become like Facebook itself, and that’s worth $50 billion dollars!
Option 3: Create and a strategy that incorporates social media into all area of the business. This looks very impressive on paper and if it was fully implemented throughout the company it would probably work but few businesses work like that, people would lose interest, deadlines would start being missed and in the end the social media aspect is as passive as it ever was.
Just because you have a website that has the names of some social media platforms in it doesn’t mean it will have instant appeal. Social media can be a passive form of advertising, you put a profile up, friend some people then forget about it. If you really want to get it working it takes a good deal of investment in time and effort. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost.
You should be using these platforms to maintain a dialogue with your customers and trading partners, thank them if they tell you you’re great, if they have a problem, investigate and resolve it, put updates up all the time, let everyone see what you’re doing to help them out, the PR that comes from being seen to be helpful, responsive and dedicated to good customer service can’t be bought.
It costs about ten times as much to convert a new customer as it does to get a previous customer to come back. Take advantage of that and offer previous customers and your online deals that aren’t available elsewhere. If you do this you can build up a word of mouth that can really start rolling at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and promotion.
Start a dialogue, get people talking, if you have a new idea float it with your ‘friends’ first. It’s far from unbiased market research but if you know what your fans are thinking then you’ll be in a much better position before you take it to the next stage. Also, these people are bright and intelligent, they’ll have some ideas of their own that you won’t have thought of. Give them a cookie because it just saved you a ton in R&D!
Remember the truisms, they’re true for a reason. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, if it looks nasty it’ll be difficult to get people to come back once they’ve been turned off. K.I.S.S. or Keep It Simple and Stupid, essentially, make it idiot-proof. There’s nothing more frustrating than a website or Facebook page which is poorly laid out or hard to navigate. People like what they know and are resistant to change. So, Don’t Go Changing.
If you’re not familiar with the platforms which you’re diving off of then don’t start making inroads into SM before you are. Practice at home, customize and adapt your own twitter before starting your company’s. Change your profile pic, dress up the backgrounds, follow lots of people. Do everything you can that you don’t look like a noob no matter how much of a noob you are.
Goal setting is just as important on SM as it is in any other field of endeavour. Be realistic but do stretch yourself, again, being a passive user won’t get you to the prize. Just because you’re a late comer doesn’t mean that you have to break records now you’ve made the commitment. Since you’ve left it this long it won’t hurt to wait a bit longer while you get to know exactly what you’re going to do, how and when you’re going to do it. As I said above, value your first impression, it’s worth working on as it’s precious.
Another thing you should know before you start is your audience, tech savvy or toe dippers? High earning individuals with large disposable incomes or people eking out a student loan/pension/welfare check? Who do you want to look at you and why? Do you provide a service that people will want once from time to time or something they need to buy fresh every day? These details will dictate how you engage with them.
You need to be able to devote as much time to engaging with your new friends as is realistically possible. If you invite your clients and providers over and then have an empty table they won’t be impressed, also, if you let your content get stale they’ll get bored and wander off. You need to make a buzz, remember the three Cs, Create Content Constantly. People need to learn something new every time they visit, if you can make your website and Facebook profile indispensible you’ll see tangible results at the registers.
The thing is, being in social media isn’t the objective of entering social media, the objective is to make it easier to develop relationships with everyone that comes into contact with your business. Become friends with them, friends buy from friends, friends trust friends. Got that friend?