Monday, July 19, 2010

Don't just jump on the social media bandwagon!

Only get into social media when you have clarity and understanding of what you want to get out of it.

According to all the hoopla about social media out there, you would think that social media is the cure-all for every business. Twitter your thumbs away and your phone won't stop ringing. Right?

Wrong.

Grow your followers, fans and people who like you into the tens of thousands and watch your bank account grow.

Wrong again.

Like any marketing tool, social media can work for you if you know why you are using it.

Too many people will sell you on how to use it, but few will guide you on determining why it makes sense for you and your business.

Only after you have determined the why, can you move to the how. Unfortunately any marketing tool used incorrectly can work against you and your brand. Just think about the meaningless million dollar super bowl ads during the dot com craze. They were entertaining but were they business-building? I don't think so.

I see a lot of that kind of noise on the Internet today. However, it adds up to be just meaningless clutter. Don't just keep adding to it.

You are wasting your time and whittling away at your your own brand's equity.

I don't care what anyone tells you, using social media to tell your audience about enjoying your steaming cup of latte isn't going to grow your career or business. However, if you are using it for business, it can help you build a better relationship with your target market whether you are an entrepreneur or working within a corporation.

Being effective with social media takes a great deal of work and strategic thinking for your brand. Here are several tips to help guide you.

Ask yourself why?
Why would your customer be interested in finding you on social media? Why is it important to them to connect with you there? Why is social media the right tool for your business and what you are saying about your brand? Does your brand’s imagery fit on the social media site you are considering?

Understand your target
Is your target market on social networks? If they are, what are they looking for from you and your business? How can you fulfill their needs with your blog posts, or comments? What are you providing them that they can’t get elsewhere?

Engage and educate; don’t sell
Social media is a unique tool; it’s not like television advertising or a print ad. It isn’t about selling, it is about engaging and educating. Use the platform to inform and build your expertise. Think of it as a tool to build a following because you give relevant, usable and timely information that matters to your customer.

Remember business building is a long term game
Social media is a great way to build loyal followers and potential clients, however it is a long term strategy. If you are in it for short term gains, you picked the wrong vehicle. Don’t get discouraged if you have thousands of followers and are posting regularly and yet to get any business from it. As with any business building strategy, it takes time to build trust with your core customers.

Keep your objective front and center
Don’t stray from your objective. Remember why you are using social media and don’t confuse customers with friends. While customers can enjoy knowing a bit about your personal life, don’t barrage them with it. Remember why you are there in the first place, to provide relevant and timely information that is useful to them and builds your business brand. Never forget that it is all about your customers, and not about you.

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