I read an article from personal branding authority, William Arruda about what Boomers and the X Gen don’t get about social media. I’ll link to his great piece at the end here, but for now follow me through a brief story about the things that I think businesses are missing about social media. Lately I have been scanning Twitter and Facebook daily looking for opportunities to help businesses with their social media marketing. While I do stumble across a few businesses that do “get it,” I see many more who commit every offense in the social media rule book.
I see two main offenses committed on a daily basis by small and medium businesses with their social media marketing. I don’t think either issue is led by bad intention, but rather a lack of knowledge and understanding of what social media really is and how it should work.
First Offense: Advertising
If you want to advertise, buy some ads, Twitter and Facebook, as well as your other channels are simply not the place to blast your followers with specials, sales, discounts, slogans and ad campaigns. You should be honored that anyone has followed your business. The people who follow you acknowledge that there’s something good or special about your business. Your social media followers have made their appreciation of your business a publicly-visible component of their own identity. If they want to see ads, they’ll watch TV.
Advertising is the price of admission for content. Advertisers make it possible for us to have “free” access to great content. Free is of course in quotes because the consumption of the advertising is the time we invest in learning about a sponsor in order to not have to pay fee to view content.
To your fans, there is little that is more annoying than taking the time to visit a brand’s social media page to be bombarded by overt advertising. If I have “liked”, “followed”, or “circled” you, please don’t waste my time with ads. I want to learn more about your business. I want to feel more connected to your brand. I want to feel like an insider. Don’t treat me like a customer. Okay, a bit of advertising is okay, but not much. Give me something special or unique that you’re not offering in the Sunday paper. Remember, I have already “liked”, “followed”, or “circled” you. Take that for what its worth. I already like you and I’ll likely choose to buy from you when I want to.
If you want to excel, you need to understand the privilege of social media. Even if you’re the smallest of small businesses, your fans follow you because they want to. The reasons people follow you do vary, some want the feeling of being an insider and some want to publicly acknowledge their allegiance to your brand. Getting to know these reasons will help you be a better marketer, but for the sake of the relationship with your social audience, quit it with the advertising. However, if you’re going to advertise use the 80/20 rule. 80% of your content should be social, sharing, and giving. 20% or less should be advertising. Tops. In fact, keep it to 10%.
Second Offense: Lack of Strategy
I don’t blame small businesses and marketers for lacking planning and strategy. The downside of not having a strategy is minimal. However,the upside of having a good strategy is huge. With a strategy you can begin to test and analyze and improve; all critical elements of managing social media profiles. Developing a strategy isn’t quick or easy. Developing a strategy requires knowledge about social media, your industry, your audience and your competition. Truly, creating a strategy can require weeks or months of research, planning and writing. However, the time invested in this process is valuable and will pay dividends. Hiring a social media strategist is a wise investment. Expect an investment of $15k to $25k and two to three months of work to create your strategy.
Great social media strategies don’t stop with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn but are holistic in their scope and are integrated across your entire business and all other marketing channels, digital and traditional. Social media requires investments, upfront and continual.
Social media has real value and can transform the way in which you communicate with your audience and how your audience communicates with you. Social media can level the playing field, giving you an advantage against even your most challenging competitors. Doing it right can make the difference between social media being a burden to becoming a value.
Here’s a link to: William Arruda’s Article
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