Humans have always had a desire to socialize; the herd mentality. In the Bible, as soon as the world repopulated after the flood, they gathered together to build the Tower of Babel (Genesis, chapter 11). So it’s no wonder social media took off! And, soon businesses realized they could speak to the masses directly and started social media marketing. But, are your social media expectations unrealistic?
When I speak to business owners, they don’t totally understand the value and importance of social media; but they know they need it because it’s all the buzz. So they figure they’ll get someone that uses Facebook in the office and he or she is their NEW social media expert!
When they learn it’s not working, they want to hire a pro for $500 a month and can’t figure out why they can’t find anybody. Finally, they get upset because their e-mail is not overloaded with prospects who want their product, one month into their new strategy. Sounds familiar?
So let’s look at some key points: the value and importance of social media and what are realistic expectations.
In a study conducted in 2009 by Eric Qualman, author of Socialnomics, it was learned that 76% of Internet users trust more what their peers have to say in social media about a brand than what advertising or Internet searches say; only 14% gave Google and advertising prominence. What this means for you is your public will go to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or sites like Yelp and Delicious to find out about your product or service. The question is, what will they find?
Will they find nothing, except the few people that may give their opinion based on what they’ve heard or read from your competition? Or, will they find people who have read some of YOUR blogs, interacted with YOUR representative and saw the replies YOU posted to other’s inquiries? More importantly, will they find your information intriguing enough to follow your blog?
Your blog will allow you to share your expertise, build credibility and trust, and get them to like you. Quite frankly, people buy from people they like and your blog shortens the sales cycle, because you don’t have to tell them what you know and are good at – they already know.
Plus, you can provide customer service in plain view, eliminating other inquiries because they already saw the answer and, more importantly, that YOU CARE AND ARE RESPONSIVE! What value do you place on THAT type of PR?
If you think you can take just anyone that knows the tools but not the strategies and tactics, and trust them with the image, positioning and brand of your company in social media, then you probably think that buying Microsoft Publisher gives you an in-house advertising department.
You want someone who is a GOOD writer that can capture your voice and essence, and can learn your business. You will direct your message, but the social media professional will project it with impact, but personably. After all, people come to social media to be entertained, informed and helped. This cannot be done with automation!
Understand that social media is part science and part art. The science is not ONLY knowing the technology, but understanding marketing strategies and tactics. The art part is being able to communicate it well and knowing which old-school tactics are not applicable to this new medium. This takes time to develop and a good social media professional is worth the investment – whether in house or outsourced.
Finally, unlike traditional marketing, just because “social media marketing” has “marketing” in it, it’s not measured the same way. Understand that social media is about engaging people, building a relationship and fostering followers that trust you. Now let me ask you this, if you just met someone and in no time they reached for your wallet, would you trust them? But a person that you came to know may propose something and you would be amenable only because you trust and like them. The same applies to social media.
Understand that the consumer took charge! No longer is it a one-way monologue through marketing and advertising that is isolated to the one person reading the newspaper. Oh No! There are millions and they speak to each other. If they don’t like your approach, they will make it known.
And, let’s not forget the other values of reduced customer service cost, the shortened sales cycle, the positive PR and YOU having editorial control of your message. No watering down by some editor behind a desk at a newspaper who may have an agenda or limited column space. No sir, you post your message completely and submit it to article banks, indexing directories and through interactions with your public.
So really evaluate your strategy, look at your budget and make the proper accommodations and ensure that you are well represented. After all, the days of the 6:00 O’clock news with 24 hours to react are long gone. We live in real time and you want to make sure your message is ON TARGET!
See you on the retweet!