Going Social: Three Important Points
Each day, I find myself asking people or companies why they don't use social media. Or for those that do, what they actually get out of it. The answers are often vague, wandering and lengthy, which leads me to believe that very few companies truly get what they could or should out of social media. Even many of the largest companies in our industry, including some that spend tens of thousands of dollars per year on social media, can't give me a clear account of the value they derive from social media.
That's sad. And inexcusable, in my opinion. If you're going to devote resources to an endeavor, you should track the value it provides. What's more, there are any manner of free or inexpensive tools to help.
And for those in the other camp, if you or your company doesn't see social media as a worthwhile endeavor, you need to have: 1. the facts to back that up, and 2. a clear-cut strategy to interact with customers and potential customers in lieu of social media.
My take is that social media can be hugely valuable when used effectively, which isn't very hard to do. But for those of you who still struggle with the why, ponder these three important points:
1. You need to be where your customers are. Say what you will, your customers use social media daily, and they're hungry for your (effective) messaging. People tend to forget that Twitter, Facebook and several other platforms are now the de-facto coffee shops and neighborhood bars – places where people congregate, chat and share ideas.
Do you know that when consumers are in the midst of making buying decisions, their "friends" are who they consult before they make those purchases? Instead of calling or texting a few close friends, consumers can now send out a tweet to thousands of followers, or post a question on Facebook, and within seconds they'll have numerous opinions from people who have experience with that product or service.
If your customer or potential customer is about to make a decision that could impact your business, shouldn't you be involved? Companies that use social media effectively have fanpages where people can share and converse right on that page. And company officials can chime in with info as well. Instead of being a bystander, waiting for things to happen, you're making it happen.
2. Realize that you do have something to say. I'm routinely surprised by two things in social media: The companies that are using it and the companies that aren't. There are a lot of small- and mid-size companies using Facebook and Twitter, while many larger companies remain noticeably absent.
Most often, however, I see this mistake: Companies make the decision to use social media, then lack the commitment to use it effectively. For example, a company might never engage its fans or followers, even when those fans post questions on the company's Facebook fanpage. Or, more often the case, companies make everything on the fanpage about the company, never about consumer. Ever seen a fanpage where posts or tweets are all about sales or products, instead of any genuine interaction? You probably never went back. Yes, social media can be used to drive sales, but it's really about building a connection to your brand.
3. There are no sufficient excuses. When social media first became popular, those who didn't use it often complained they didn't have the time or staff to monitor it. Now, there are video tutorials available to walk you through all manner of setup and monitoring.
What's more, social media can take up as little or as much time in your day as you allow. It's also fairly inexpensive to hire someone to manage such duties. All you really need is a desire to explore and the willingness to follow through after you make the plunge.
Bottom line: Those who are making the effort to be successful in social media are a lot closer to their clients and potential clients than those who are not. You just have to decide which camp you want to be in.
(Image courtesy of Kinoli)