I meet with a lot of companies who are looking for guidance in the social media arena. Many of them have been sitting back and watching over the last couple years, wondering if their time and efforts are better spent on more “traditional” marketing tactics.
Well, it seems the scales have tipped and companies of all sizes now recognize there is a power in social media that can positively affect businesses. But what to do next? I’ve outlined a few steps below to get you thinking in the right direction on your social media plan.
1. Define your objectives. This seems so obvious but few companies think about it. Instead, they come at me with, “We need more tweets!” or “We need more YouTube videos!” or “We need more friends on Facebook!” And my response is…”Why?” First we must determine what you are trying to achieve with these tweets, videos and followers. Is it increased brand awareness, thought leadership in your industry, improved customer service, sales leads, retention or something else? Once your objectives are clearly defined, it’s much easier to build a strategy and choose the tactics that will apply.
2. Be realistic and build slowly. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is a stellar social media strategy. If you have absolutely nothing in place, a great place to start is checking out your competition and other companies that interest you. Follow along and watch what they are doing. When you feel comfortable, start to interact by retweeting and commenting on blogs or Facebook posts (well, probably not retweeting your competition, but you know what I mean). Once you get the hang of how it works, begin slowly. Set a realistic goal, like one tweet a day or one blog post a week, and build from there. Slow and steady wins the race, and also lets other know you’re not a bot or spammer.
3. Don’t be “THAT Guy (or Gal).” You know that guy…or maybe it’s that company. Every post or tweet is trying to sell you something. Or tell you how awesome they are. Or get you to do something like hand over your entire email database. Be this guy (or gal) instead: the guy that provides valuable information on your industry, the guy that is personable and fun, and the guy who is genuinely interested in helping others. When you establish yourself as that guy, when it comes time to pass along a sales offer, you will meet much more success.
3. Ask for help. You may have a social media whiz sitting in your office right now who would be delighted at the idea of helping you. One of my clients put out a $100 per month incentive to become the “official Facebook post person” for the company, and got an overwhelming response. With a little guidance from me and their CEO, they are steadily increasing their posts, followers, interactions, and overall branding. And the person in charge is having a blast. There are also many outsourced services (cough…cough…Mojo Marketing…cough…) with experts who have launched successful social media campaigns, if you prefer to go that route.
5. Have fun! Don’t forget the social in social media. Yes, you may engage in this for businesses purposes, but you will find the atmosphere is much more casual than in typical marketing. I once posted a picture on my company’s Facebook page of a wildcat that was found outside our office, and then the police cars that came to remove it. A whole flood of comments poured in, probably because it was interesting and fun and NOT about business. So forget the suit and tie and remember to share something fun from time to time.
Just like with anything else, sometimes the hardest part is to just get started. But once you dive in, you’ll discover a whole new world of opportunity for you and your business.