I keep hearing people say that Social Media is a waste of time, that it doesn't work. And you know what? The people that say that are absolutely right IF they don't have an effective strategy! I cringe when I hear marketers and other company people describe their social media in ways such as: We have a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Yeah. Uh huh. What are you planning to DO with those accounts and WHY do you have them?
Having Social Media accounts...and even using those social media accounts...is not a strategy: its just executing a few blind tactics.
What can you do to START creating a social media strategy that works?
Step One: Read, Listen, Research...
What are your clients, partners, prospects and COMPETITION talking about on the web? What do they care about? What websites do they visit? Where do they look for information? How do they look for information? What do they comment about?
Step Two: Define what you want to accomplish
Why do you want to engage with people? Do you want to create brand awareness? Do you want to define your brand? Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? Do you want to introduce new products or services? What's your purpose? What do you really hope to achieve by engaging in Social Media? Before you define what you want to accomplish, I recommend you open up a Word .doc or pull out a piece of paper and start brainstorming.
Step Three: Understand the different Social Media Platforms
I think a great way to do this is to use a mind map software to graph out the different social media platforms you might use and then plug in your ideas from Step Two under each social media platform. You'll start to see how you can re-use content and think of new ideas.
Step Four: Consider Your Resources
Many perceive social media as being free: its not. If nothing else it comes with the cost of man hours. You need to consider how and who will be generating the content (information) you are going to share in social media. Depending on your company's size you might need to start off using limited resources to demonstrate how the social media plan is going to work.
Forget the Cookie-Cutter Strategy
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to making social media work. What works for @BlendTec might not work for you. There's certainly no way that blending ipads into powder is going to help Oshyn get new business. However, for @BlendTec, posting videos on YouTube demonstrating how their blenders are powerful enough to blend objects like iPads is very effective. They've had nearly 10 million views of this video. I'm not sure how many more blenders they've sold but they've certainly raised brand awareness. The other day I was in a Caffe Nero in London and saw that they have BlendTec blenders...I asked them what they thought about their blenders. Caught off guard by the question they said they were pretty good. I told them about "Will It Blend?" and they said they were going to check it out later on YouTube. It could be a fun conversation piece for Caffe Nero employees and their customers.
To make social media work for you - you have to remember that its not about broadcasting or just being funny. It's about providing useful information or availability that your target audience will like.
X number of Followers should NOT be a goal
You might have some Twitter or Facebook envy when you start looking at examples of companies that have large followings on Twitter or Facebook fans. But keep in mind that the numbers don't equate success. There are many people and companies that have used all kinds of crazy tactics to grow their numbers as high as quickly as possible. I've personally heard many cases of agencies creating fake profiles to build large FAKE followings. That tactic might work in the short term but I promise you that in the long term its going to hurt. Don't target an absolute number...target growth of people in your target audience.