Guilty as charged. Nobody starts out using social networks and gets it right out of the staring blocks. It's a process.
I have been using it for almost 6 years (somewhat of a late adopter in some circles), and I am still learning. The first day I joined Facebook, my cell phone and computer staring dinging like a winning Vegas slot machine with friend requests. Over the course of the past few years, I have worked hard as a student of the game to find out what works and what does not. Also as a teacher and trainer, I have heard most all of the concerns and objections that stop people from getting started or making the most of it before completely giving up.
Social networking and social media is about learning how to use it, what to post and how to measure it's usefulness for you and your business. What follows are some misconceptions and observations that I learned or overheard from clients or peeps. I hope these can help you make some sense of it all, and maybe help you see how social media REALLY can help your grow your relationships and your business:
- Just Post – Have you ever tuned a radio to a station that was not on the air? You hear static and noise. Without having a clear plan of who your audience is and what they want to hear from you, that is what your messages sound like. Define the audience for your messages, ask them what they want to hear, post good stuff (quality content). Quality Content is something that attracts, engages, and creates conversations. It takes, trials, errors and measurement to determine what messages work for your audience and fans or followers. Lather, Rinse, Repeat!
- Content Is King – Content is important. Content that your audience wants to hear and engages with (likes, comments and shares) is king. It's all about creating great stuff that resonates with people who know, like and trust you. Don't be afraid to bring your A Game. Don't water down your content with the hope they will come back for more. WOW them, with your best. If you only have one WOW idea, then you don't have a business… just a WOW idea.
- The Right Way To Post – When you find the right way to post for everyone and every business, please share with all of us. Every business has it's own DNA. It has a different audience, different product or service, and a different approach to solving customer needs, problems, and opportunities. If someone says they have the magic bullet or secret sauce, you are buying something that is generic and has a 50% or less chance of working for you. You always need a custom solution that is specific to your audience and your business. There are ways to do this through advertising, but that's another topic!
- It's For Kids – The truth is that there are mostly Gen X, Y, Z people using social media. That does not mean that millennials and baby boomers are not paying attention or part of the mix. Smart phones are the entry point for many of the older users and that is making them more aware and exploring other social media options and tools. The other part of this is just because you have a young person who knows HOW to use social media, that does not mean that they KNOW HOW or WHY to communicate with your audience (most likely the older crowd). Think that through.
- Viral Marketing – Content that goes viral, is more often than not, funny, trendy, and short lived. It does not mean that you should not aim to create content that strikes a funny bone or a nerve, just be careful since sometimes it can have less than desired consequences. Aim for consistency, commitment, and conversations. Creating and maintaining engagement is work. That work can pay off by you and your business becoming top of mind when people are looking for a company or person that offers what you do or sell. Have patience.
- Advertising Trumps Social Media – Sometimes this is true. Advertising is just that, it creates awareness. It takes just as much time and commitment (and often much or money) to see results. Social media can either be an alternative or an augmentation to your advertising. Social media is NEVER going to be a replacement for advertising. Advertising is about creating awareness and ultimately relationships. Social media is about nurturing relationships and occasionally advertising.
- Followers = Business – Some people treat adding friends, email addresses or connections like collecting lives in a video game. The more lives you collect the longer you can play the game. There are ways to do this effectively in other cases, but not always in social media. Then BOOM, they unleash the sales pitch to the whole audience hoping that the numbers game will pay off. Reality is that 10% or less will react (often 1-2%) and you may lose and alienate many who view the message as spam. I have seen this time and again in LinkedIn where people reward your connection request with a sales pitch diatribe. That PLEASE-BUY communication turns into a… BUH-BY. Treat followers like friends. When they need what you offer, some will contact you and respond only then. Give them great content and information, and wait for them to respond to it. The harder the push – the harder the pushback.
- It's Free – How do you define free time in business? If you are employee, you are getting paid for that time. If you are an entrepreneur, you NOT getting paid for that time. No matter how you slice and dice it, it costs money to do social media and social networking. Sales and marketing is a cost of doing business and ultimately costs you time AND money! Social networking is an activity that is about creating, nurturing, and enhancing relationships. Do you treat spending time with your spouse, friends, or family like a free time exercise, or a quality time investment?
- Time Consuming – Social media can be time consuming if all you do is like pictures of kittens and play games. If you look at it as part of your sales and marketing mix, it's no different than answering emails, phone calls, or letters in the mail (anybody still get those?). Some people view it as a waste of time because they often don't get the purpose, process or payback. Social media and networking is an investment, and just like a stock, it's not always an overnight success. Give it time, measure the returns and you will see why it's so important to your ongoing business.
- ROI (COI) – In management school, most people are trained to focus on cost of doing business or ROI (return on investment). What is often ignored is COI (cost of inaction). Are your clients (the gruntled) singing your praises to their friends or coworkers? Can you reward those who love you and your stuff for their loyalty and kudos? Also can you harvest their followers to jump on the success train? Are some of your customers (the disgruntled) kvetching, or even worse, slamming you and your products or services online. There is a reason why large corporations like Comcast and others have teams of people monitoring social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and more. Reputation management is part of the new social media process and programs.
We Are Not On Social Media – What are you waiting for? Your friends, clients and competitors are there. Do yourself a favor and Google yourself, your business, and your competitors. Go to www.google.com, and start searching everything. Pay close attention to what shows up and don't stop at the top of the first page. Dig deeper and look at least the next 5 pages or more. You may be amazed at what you can learn and what you might see. It might be nothing, or it could be eye opening.
Which one of the 10 tips+ spoke to you? Did you learn something or disagree with something? I would love to hear your comment and feedback…