Few days ago I was asked to submit Top 10 Social Media tips for businesses for a local paper. Chances are that by now, you’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of these and most of the time they’re either extremely vague (“Engage the Audience” anyone?) or of little practical use. So I tried to really boil things down to a simple, effective few that anyone can understand and use and I came up with 5. Here they are:
It seems that there is a new social media platform launching every month (Pinterest, Klout, Quora, Storify) and it’s almost a futile effort to wrap your head around each one at that frequency. Rather then jumping on every new platform that emerges, select two or three best fitting ones and focus on them. These should be networks where your ideal target market is most active. This could mean producing a podcast because your target market is business professionals who may be more open to consuming content through audio while they’re driving or exercising. Or putting together recipes and posting the finished meal to Pinterest because your target market may be younger heads of household who make the cooking (and grocery buying) decisions.
Social media has been around for a few years already, yet there are still brands who jump in and create a presence but don’t engage in any kind of conversation. They treat their social media presence as a billboard. Don’t be one of those. We often see this when a company outsources their social media presence to a local (or overseas) service, who then proceed to post quasi-relevant links, videos and articles without asking or answering questions, giving followers a chance to converse or inviting them to create content WITH you.
Even though joining a social network is free, it takes a concentrated effort and dedicated human resources in order to produce results. Be prudent and cautious of who you get to represent your brand online. Will hiring your accountant’s college student son who doesn’t truly understand your business REALLY portray the best image of your brand? Also… don’t think that dedicating 3 hours per week of your admin’s time to “do social media” is enough either. We’re past the basics, market is saturated with brands hopping on the bandwagon, yet only few are seeing real results. Those are the ones who dedicate time and resources to making it happen.
In for the long haul.
Understand that social media is not an advertising platform, but rather a relationship building medium. This of course takes time, so be prepared for a consistent effort over a longer period. It could be 6 months, it could be a year or longer. One of the most common misconceptions is that you’re able to get an immediate or quick return as soon as you create a Facebook page. Perhaps… with a substantial promotional budget and a REALLY compelling offer (remember GroupOn anyone?). Rather then immediately assigning a dollar value to each “like”, focus on taking the time to develop those relationships organically and ROI will come back to you in spades. As Allan Weiss says, think of the fourth sale first. Let that be your guide to approaching social media. Be in for the long haul.
Understand your objectives.
Before jumping on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other network, make sure to ask WHY. Each marketing effort should be clearly and logically tied to core business objectives. Are you using this network for customer service, brand awareness or community building? And if so, what does success look like? Having MORE fans or followers is not really a viable metric. Having a more engaged (they comment, reply, like, retweet, share…) community could be. Understand WHY you’re on social media and then ask yourself if that reason vibes with a social platform (affinity building vs advertising).
Keep it simple… and don’t forget to have fun :)
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter