Feb 28, 2011
by KELLY WALKER at Incyte Marketing
Everyone seems to be talking about social media marketing (SMM) these days. As a business owner, you are most likely one of two groups: those who have already jumped into the SMM arena, and those who have a feeling that they need to. (A smaller group exists: those who don't see any value in SMM, but we will think of this attitude as we think of phone booths, typewriters and cassette tapes.)
Based upon cost-to-potential-benefit, social media makes sense, and it is where businesses and consumers are going in great numbers (to the profit and benefit of businesses “in the know”). But there's a problem. A lot of businesses set up Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and then...nothing, or very little, happens. This can give some the impression that SMM is not very effective and perhaps just a lot of hype. But drawing this conclusion is analogous to registering for a networking event, maybe even setting up a booth, and then not showing up to talk to people—no matter that you are dressed to the nines and are wearing a branded name tag—if you're not seeking out other people and engaging them, you're probably not going to get much attention, not to mention sales.
It's exactly the same with social media. You can be all dressed up, but if you have nowhere to go, you're not going to get results. It's not enough to show up with a nice page and profile. You have to employ solid, active strategies that get you in front of your target audience, and you have to have engaging messaging.
But it's not only what you say, it's also how you say it and how often you say it. It's not only what, how and how often, it's also where you say it. Let's take a look at each of these:
1. WHAT you say. Good marketing will always require good writing. But writing for print, radio or TV ads is not the same as writing for Facebook or Twitter. What you say needs to quickly grab attention and engage readers without carrying a hint of sales-y feel. It needs to entertain, challenge, shock, incense, or otherwise move people to action. Often that action involves clicking through to your website, sharing your posting with friends, commenting on your wall or “re-tweeting.”
2. HOW you say it. Social media is about generating and joining in conversations. If your posts come across as blatant selling, most people are going to run away, block your communications or even post negative comments about you. Your messaging needs to be interesting and conversational in tone. People should feel like you are sharing something of value, whether educational, entertaining or compelling. Wise use of photos, video, blogs and other content makes your messaging more interesting and more likely to be shared.
3. HOW OFTEN you say it. If you are going to add content “once in a while,” you may as well not bother. I would suggest, in most cases, that you add new content at least weekly so that you stay in front of people. It is, after all, a conversation and so you need to keep talking. Again, though, make sure your communications are attractive, engaging and worth reading. Offer something of value to people that they will feel adds to their day. I'm not talking about offering coupons, discounts and offers—all of which have their place—I'm talking about posts that are going to be more interesting than the thoughts in your audience members' heads.
4. WHERE you say it. Ok. Points 1-3 are about “all dressed up.” Here's the “nowhere to go” part. You can post on your wall all day long, tweet till you can't tweet no more, update your linked in till you turn green and watch your fan/friend/contact base grow slowly if at all. But, in Facebook for example, are your posts making it onto other business, personal and group walls? You can get in front of thousands, even millions, of eyeballs in moments if you know how to do it. There are a lot of strategies, applications and tricks that will give your communications wings to fly so that you can take advantage of the enormous audiences available at your fingertips.
So, if you're on Facebook or any of the other social media sites, marketing your wares—or if you still need to get into the arena—by all means, get dressed up. Create, or have created, attractive and well-branded pages and profiles. But don't form conclusions about the ROI potential of social media marketing until you know where that “somewhere to go” is and how to get there!
Be sure to join us at the Bend Chamber Business Success Program on March 9—I will be on a panel with Jim Kress and Matthew Hand to discuss how your business can best utilize social media for your marketing. This “must attend” event will take place at Cascades Theatrical Company on 145 NW Greenwood from 7:30-9am. See the Bend Chamber website for more details and to register.