More often than not, we discover that one or more of the three fundamentals of being successful with social media simply weren’t followed. Often times a company will put up a Facebook page, setup a Twitter account, jump on to Foursquare or LinkedIn and expect immediate results.
Bad news – Social Media doesn’t work that way!
There are lots of little elements that go into the success equation of social media but three stand out as non-negotiables when it comes to determining success:
1. Strategy – Simply creating profiles on social networks, self-promoting your products and services and begging people to like and follow you isn’t a strategy. Your social media marketing strategy needs to start with defining goals.
What exactly are you looking to accomplish with your social media efforts? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, increase sales or simply drive additional traffic to your website. Understanding these goals will help guide you through the maze of creating a social media strategy.
The next step in creating a social media strategy is to do some research. Where is your audience currently hanging out? What are they talking about? What types of posts do they generally respond to? You can’t expect that your audience is simply going to “relocate” to your social networking sites just because you created a presence there. Go to where they are. Understand them, their habits and patterns. This will help you better understand what to post, when to post it and where to post it.
Do some research on your competition. What’s working for them and what isn’t. You can gain a lot of insight by paying particular attention to the research you’ve done.
2. Be Consistent. Social Media is all about the conversation. Conversation doesn’t mean one side is always talking and the other side is not participating. The rule is simple – if you are not going to engage in the conversation don’t get on social media. Period. Taking the time to setup a profile on the social networking sites then taking the approach of “I’ll get to it when I have time” is simply a recipe for disaster. At a minimum, you’ll get out of social media what you put into it but most likely, your audience will just disappear and move on to something more engaging. Your “Like” count may not go down but rest assured your interaction rate will.
3. Be Patient. We get a kick out of this in particular. Before there were automatic ice makers in everyone’s freezer, we had to fill the ice cube trays with water and put them in the freezer by hand. You can’t make ice by opening the freezer door every 10 minutes and wondering why the water hasn’t froze yet. Social media is no different. Gaining the trust of the audience you are having the conversation with is something that is just done over time. You don’t get to just sit in the middle of the room at a dinner party and become the subject matter expert on everything everyone is talking about.
Social Media’s primary role should be to engage in conversations, establish trust with your audience, move your audience through the realm of being a follower to being an endorser to being an evangelist for your products and services. Notice no where in that sentence do we talk about selling your products or services.
Finally, consider this. Social media is not a hobby. It directly impacts what others see and experience about your brand. This has an impact on your reputation. Having no social media presence is far superior than having a poor social media presence.
If you would like to learn more about how social media can benefit your business or brand, contact us.