If you have been sitting on the fence or simply putting your toes in the water when it comes to social media, I am here to tell you that it is time to jump in. The water is warm – heck it is actually hot! You should dive right in! You need to for your business to survive. Why? That is where your customers and influencers of customers are.
Now… that being said… you need to understand the realities behind social media and control your expectations. Here are 9 realities you must know before you begin your dive into social media:
9. You Can’t Build Without Reading The Instructions
Unless you are my engineering friend who tends to through those pesky instructions out and always ends up with pieces left over, the rest of us have to read them. The same goes for social media. Learning where to be and how to interact is important or you run the risk of being frustrated.
Amber Naslund, who writes the Altitude Branding Blog, has done a lot of the hard work and rounded up a Best Of Social Media Learning post. I recommend this as a must read before you even begin. You will have better results and a better return on your investment of time.
8. You must have a plan
Using social media for marketing your business and building a strong relationship with your customers requires that you have a plan. Your largest investment in setting up the accounts and participating is your time. As the old adage goes, “Time equals money.” Just like if you were to buy advertising in a newspaper or on television, you are going to have a plan when it comes to engaging with people on social media. This article written by Lon S. Cohen on Mashable.com, discusses seven items any enterprise should consider, makes it clear that you should have a plan.
This article by Cindy King, gives you seven ways to plan your social media so you can avoid the time wasting trap.
7. You Need To Be Where Your Customers Are
Well it seems that you cannot escape a truism when it comes to business: Location, Location, and Location. Just like it matters where you put your store, it matters where you choose to allocate your resources when it comes to social media. If you are in the waste disposal industry should you be on Twitter? Well, it depends on the message
that you are communicating, but most likely not.
This article by Redhead Writing asks the question “Should You Be On Twitter?” She has got some important questions that you must answer before you even get started.
6. You Need A Blog
First, a blog that is tied directly into your main website is a great way to feed the search engines and helps your SEO. (Any SEO marketing company will tell you this.) Second, a blog helps build your authority in your particular marketplace and the products/services you sell. You know them better than anyone so why not write about them?
If you are a small business, there is a ton of data that demonstrates how blogs help your business. Such as:
The above articles are from HubSpot. Before you begin blogging, you should ask yourself if you are ready to blog. When you determine that you are, make a plan and write. Do not worry about topics as once you start writing you will find that there are a ton of topics you write about when it comes to your business. This article by Denise Wakeman gives you thirteen ideas for getting topics and sparking your creativity. She also has a post that shows you how easy it is to set up a blog in ten easy steps.
5. You Need To Measure Your Activity
Like any marketing plan you want to measure the results of your activity. There are number of tools you can use and most of them are free. You need to make sure you are measuring the right metrics. Are they conversions? Are they site hits? Are they comments to your blog? The list can be endless and you can end up measuring the wrong ones. The good news is that this article by Tom Webster Social Media Monitoring 201, helps you sort out the right metrics.
4. You Need To Incorporate Video
Most of social media is written. Tweets, blogs, and posts to Facebook are typically written. Yet one of the most powerful mediums that can engage a very wide audience is video. It does not require much capital and can help your product, business, and/or brand explode into an untold number of potential clients.
3. You Will Have Costs
Social media is currently seen as a free means to advertise. It is not free at all. You are going to invest time. Whether it is your time or an employee’s time, you are going to invest it. That time equals money. While you are not paying to place information online, you are paying. Once you understand this, then you will be in a better position to engage with your customers. This article by Shelly Kramer, demonstrates how a company, like Starbucks, understood this principle and increased sales.
2. You Need To Participate
Advertising is about perfection. Delivering the perfectly crafted message to the perfect audience at the perfect time. The medium interrupts, speaks out, and provokes a response by the audience. Yet, it does not engage the audience. This article by Molly Cantrell-Kraig discusses how social media is not advertising, but instead a forum to participate in a discussion between the brand and its customers. By participation this means that there needs to be a person behind the tweets, posts, and blogs. This means that your company has to be open to both the accolades and the complaints. This means that you are not going to have total control but you will learn and build up a huge balance in your relationship account.
1. You Will Not Immediately Make Millions
Participating and engaging in social media is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a means to build respect, authority, and a strong relationship with your customers. Social media allows you to showcase your talents. Social media allows you to find customers that really want to buy your services. Social media in the end is a community that you are part of and if you are a value to… you will make an impressive return on your investment. Like anything else it is going to take time. Just to measure your expectations against reality you should read how Amber Naslund made $100k with Twitter. Then you should read the 25 realities behind social media by Tom Nixon.
Are you ready to jump in? The water is hot enough! Your business will thank you and your customers will become loyal fans that will rave about you. Weigh your expectations against reality and engage your customers in the social media realm!
I am sure there are other realities about social media. What have I missed? How would you explain the realities of social media? What other resources are out there?