Social Marketing

Social Media Marketing is a Moving Target

A lot of the original social sites have fallen into disfavor, while Facebook continues to lead the charge of what’s rapidly becoming a much larger list of useful and viable social media sites.  These also include Twitter, Youtube, Google+, Linked In, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram to mention only a few.  Additionally, there are a number of blogging, article directory, picture sharing and video sharing sites that are often categorized as quasi social sites because they’re still focused around a growing community, common interests, linking to each other, etc.  As these sites grow, adapt and fail it creates a social media landscape that’s confusing to say the least and often flat out overwhelming.

Some Social Media Observations:

1). Each social media site works or doesn’t work well depending on your type of business, market demographics, average customer, geographic location, etc.

2). Each social media site has very different rules, guidelines, methods, themes, appetites, sub-cultures, demographics and results…then, just when you though you had it figured out…an up-date.

3). Although running traffic to your page or gathering traffic there is important, only engagement and repeat visits will cause the marketing campaigns to go viral, convert and help convert the traffic to your best repeat customers, reviewers and referral sources.

4). If you can not move your social media traffic to an email list, text list, gather reviews or get them to share, comment or refer, then it’s probably not worth the cost in time and money.

5). Like a review, the general dialogue or complaint on an active social media site can in fact be the most valuable piece of information you’ll ever receive, as it is this kind of “hard to stomach” feedback that will save your business and often turn it into a massive success over time.  You can also enter into dialogue on the social media site or privately to ask for clarification, apologize or make repair.  The net effect of this can be a client that believes in you, your management and business more than had things not gone wrong.

Branding Affirmation and Promise to Communicate

At the most basic level, most people that see your social media page will check subconsciously to see that it matches your other branding, looks respectably well done and has some level of consistent posting and responding going back and forth like a dialogue not a monologue.  To put a social media page out there implies your intent to have worthwhile dialogue with you customers, friends of your customers and potential customers that find you through some form of search.  If what they see and experience is not inline with what they perceive to be reasonable, they’ll make some assumptions…negative assumptions about you, your business, the quality of what you do, that you don’t maintain or finish well…maybe even that they’re not important and you don’t care to communicate any more.  Not good.

What’s the moral in this story?  Don’t dabble.  Don’t experiment.  It’s like Yoda said to Luke Skywalker, “there is no try…only do or do not”.  If you will do this, take the time to get educated at the intermediate level or higher and post regularly.  I you delegate this to an employee, have them do the same and don’t forget to actually let them spend the needed time on it regularly.  If you can’t do that, either hire it out to a specialist or just pass for now until you have the resources to commit.

The truth is, that there are way more affordable and effective short-term ways of generating new leads and getting your existing customers to come more and spend more.  Social media marketing is a medium to long term strategy, there are lots of options and they really act as a catalyst or partner to the other strategies you should be implementing first.  Knowing that, wait and apply these strategies after making sure there the best for you, you already have other strategies in place that will be boosted, you have the resources to keep at it consistently…and then, you’ll see significant medium and long term benefits and profits as your reward.

Tell Your Story to Keep Your Customers Engaged

We already address the need for consistency, ut consistency with what?…in what manner?  So here’s the best general advice you’ll get about content and what you should in fact be sharing that will brand your business, engage your customers and create the best foundation for going viral…Tell your story, your businesses story…heck, tell your head chefs story, your most loyal employee’s story.  You get it, people are so over nothing but coupons, nothing but quotes, nothing but facts, etc.  Look at the Bible.  Look at the best selling books at the store.  Watch some kids at a camp fire.

People love the story format because it makes them feel alive, engaged, authentic and by default, they’ll feel some of that about you, your business, your chief chef, most loyal employee, etc.  Ultimately everyone wants to belong, to be a part of community, to be heard, to be respected, to know and be known.  So give that to them and as a bonus, they’ll actually start to care about you, your business, your head chef, etc…how cool is that!

Now before we move on, there’s a little more to this.  Someone objective that understands most people needs to talk with you about the story line, a story board w/timeline, look at the photos, hear the stories, etc.  That may be you or someone close, but usually it’s best to get someone more objective, a marketing consultant like us if you can swing it ;-)   The thing is, sometimes the head chef’s story, loyal employee’s story or best customer’s stories sound and sell better than our own stories.

Even if your story is pretty good, you’ll want to create a mosaic or mixture of the others too and you’ll need to pick a primary narrator for your stories.  That may be you, may be your manager or partner…maybe even your head chef if he/she is that well known or unique.  The goal is to tell your business’s story regularly, in installments in the way that will engage your customers best and grow your business the most.

Regular Coupons, Contest and Surveys to Go Viral

Once you have the right social media site(s) identified for your business, you’ve gotten your business’s story and characters put together and such, then you’ll start growing a fan base or following quickly and you’ll see good engagement, lots of activity.  It may take a month, a few months, perhaps 6 months…but at some point you’ll be ready to build on that foundation and those relationships by adding yet another level of excitement and engagement that you couldn’t add too early or it would be pushy, rude, abrupt or just too early.  That is, you can start posting more coupons, doing surveys, asking open questions  and running contests with your story line and characters as a starting point or context.

You can also link into and out of your social media pages, even daisy chaining them together.  You can start to invite people to join your email list, newsletter, text list, visit your website, new mobile site, download you mobile app, leave a review…maybe even a video review…nice!  You can post your reviews from other sites on your social media pages while also requesting reviews on your social media pages and then posting them on the other review sites (this does require some special services, as you don’t ever want to do that yourself or without proof of the review).

You can see how between the cool super engagement strategies above combined with connecting your other web assets how you can quickly reach your customer base and their friends when needed, that the whole dynamic of your customer base will ratchet up generating lots of repeat and referral business and you’ll have your fingers on the very heart beat of your business…your customers, so you can make adjustments and improve your business until it really is just the best period.  As a bonus, all of these social signals, activity and moving from site to site will also supercharge your SEO efforts!

Don’t Want to See Social Marketing get a Bad Rap…

Social Media Marketing can really take your business to another level and multiply everything else you’re doing in strategically and intentionally marketing your business.  But, it can also be one of the most fruitless and frustrating experiences you’ll have in marketing or in business, a total waste of time and money…then worse, the experience can bleed over into your feelings about business or marketing in general which is not a good place to be operating from.  Please let us meet with you to discuss this part of your marketing, so we can help you zero in on the right social media sites for your business and the right timing to add it to your existing marketing efforts…really, you’ll be glad you did.