Social Media Marketing: Fact or Farse?
All the big companies are doing it. Many small companies are doing it. You may be doing it. But here’s the “Million Dollar Question”… Is it working? (Are you making money from your investment of cash and/or time?)
The truth is most business owners are shy about using social media for marketing and often make mistakes at first that are costly. As with any marketing, you need to have your goals and target market defined. But let’s take a moment to look at a couple safeguards for your social media efforts and a few hints for how to manage social media marketing without loosing a lot of time and cash.
Social Media Safeguards:
1. Remember it’s social. This is not a hard-sell environment. Posting too many direct sales pitches will get you “unfriended,” “unfollowed” and “blocked.” And the sad part is, you probably won’t even know that your audience left the party. It’s important to take the long view on social media efforts. Be helpful. Be friendly. Be social. Be polite. Don’t worry about collecting sales… connect with people. Resist the urge to post frequent business offers and ads… That’s not social behavior. Customers will follow a company or brand, but do not want to be bombarded with offers and ads (Social SPAM).
2. Remember it’s public: That means keep it positive and professional. The old adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” has never been more true. Your customers, potential customers, vendors, employees and peers all see what you post. Before you post, think. Reread it before you hit “submit” – make sure it reads like you want it to. This is your business image. You have a right to your opinion, but so do your patrons. Maintain a professional tone in your posts.
3. Maintain Control of Accounts: All too often business owners allow an employee or younger staff person to set up and manage social media accounts. It seems easy, after all… they know all that “computer stuff” right? Wrong. The company needs to have control of these accounts. Employees leave. Sometimes they get angry. You do not want your company accounts held hostage or sabotaged. Furthermore, the person who posts to your accounts needs a good grasp of company culture, core values and customer service. Without some maturity and forethought your social postings could easily give you an online reputation you do not want to have.
4. Establish Social Media Policies: If you have employees, make sure you have a written policy regarding what they may and may not post online. Do you want them to list that they work for your company? Do you want them to use the company name in posts? Are they permitted to comment about their work environment? These issues may not pose problems, especially if you have a great workplace, but it is wise to have a clear policy in place before a potential problem arises.
Social Media Management:
How do you utilize social media without losing hours of paid labor or management time? Integrate and Automate.
Integrate: Tools like www.hootsuite.com, a personal favorite of mine, make social media marketing more manageable for business people and staff with limited time. They allow you to connect all your social media accounts, and post to some or all of them simultaneously. For example, I may post a favorite quote to ALL accounts, but a status update about my day’s schedule may only to my personal Facebook page.
Automate: If you opt to use HootSuite, recommend you pay for the Pro Account. It will be the best $6 you ever spent. One of the most valuable features of the Pro Account is the ability to schedule social posts in advance. You can select what day, what time, what accounts and you’re done. Social media posts are distributed on time, while you’re busy working on your business.
Social media marketing is social. It’s the new “word of mouth” advertising. It works when you engage your target audience with good content in a conversational manner. Effective use of social media requires a time investment, but with a few safeguards and tools to help you, the time you invest will yield greater results. You can be more effective and control when that investment happens to a great degree.