Okay, we are finally winding down on this series. In my previous article:
I touched on some social-networking tips and how to use social media for research. In this article, we will discuss using social media for business, or better known as “social media marketing.” Social media marketing is a complex animal — part art and science — so I am going to cover some basics that are crucial to a successful program only. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive explanation, just some basics to get you going in the right direction.
There are four points that are crucial:
1. It’s not about you or your organization
2. You must interact and engage
3. You must measure your activity
4. You must capture your followers
People are tired of being sold! Much technology is about removing advertising and commercials. Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), Netflix, MP3 players, pop-up blockers – even programmers give away their software (freeware or shareware) with ads embedded, knowing people are so fed up that many will pay for the ad-free version.
So if the social-sphere gets a whiff that you’re there to sell them, you will be branded a pariah. It’s about them and not you. You are there to help by providing a solution to a problem with useful information. It’s the old Zig Ziglar approach: “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”
This will engender good faith and they’ll come to like and respect you. So when they need what you offer, chances are they’ll come to you for advice. That’s when you have been given permission to sell your services.
Now that you are attracting people with your great content, you have to show them you’re a real person behind the information and that you GENUINELY CARE. They can smell a fake a gigabyte away!
They need to come to know YOU! Therefore, don’t ignore the comments, posts and referrals of your followers; interact with them. Answer back, show compassion where needed, provide advice if requested and let them know they’re important to you. This doesn’t mean you’re a slave to your keyboard, if you’re a one-person operation. Just put aside some time to respond. Bigger operations can dedicate a person to this task.
A good way to create a bond is to post personal stuff from time to time. Just got back from a vacation? Post a picture or two and let them know what happened. Your child just grew his or her first tooth, take a picture and celebrate it with them. You’ll find these posts solicit the most responses.
Your goal will determine what your metric should be (is your goal to provide customer service and retention, is it to make sales, is it to build credibility and trust); however, you still need to measure what you put out, where and when. Also, you need to measure how many responded, was it negative or positive, and how many followers you received. If you don’t, how will you know what clicks (no pun intended) and what topics draw interest? Plus, their responses will let you know what you need to talk about! In the beginning, you will be poking in the dark; then their responses will guide you where to go. Oh, and one more thing – follow back. This is a dialogue, not a monologue.
Too many people trust the “cloud” (the cloud is the online networks that store your data). The cloud can fail! When Digg decided to upgrade their site, I lost all followers — over 2,000. About seven months ago, Google Mail had a hiccup and approximately 35,000 people lost their e-mail, chat history and contacts (see Google still working to restore Gmail service.) While 35,000 was only .02% of all their subscribers, to the person who lost all that information, it was a catastrophic loss. To avoid losing all you worked for, capture that data.
The way you capture your followers is with a newsletter or blog. If the content is good and offers value, why wouldn’t they want to subscribe? Plus, when you have a blog or newsletter, when you post, all your subscribers are notified by the service, even through smartphones, which means you have a mobile platform.
I am sure there are more questions running through your head now (How do I start a blog? How do I measure? etc.) There are many free tools, and some not free, that you can Google and find that will help you. I will cover some of these questions in later blogs.
If you’re in business and you are not social networking and marketing, then what are you waiting for? Your competition sure is and that’s where the majority of the people are going to ask for help when a decision needs to be made. Will they be referred to your competitor or will you be on their radar? I guess that’s a question you can ask on Facebook.