January 6, 2011

3 things you MUST do for social media success

You’ve got a business, and you’d love to find new customers online. You’ve heard that social media can do that for your business, but you don’t know where to begin.

If that’s where you find yourself, then you must know that there are THREE things you MUST have in place in order to succeed in social media:

1. Have a solid plan

You MUST incorporate your social media strategy with your business plan and traditional marketing activities. Creating a free standing “social media plan” – one that is separate and distinct from the overall business plan – is kind of like a resident of  Bluff, planning a road trip to Auckland, and buying a map of the North Island. While the map will help once you’ve actually arrived in the North Island, it’s not going to help you navigate the South Island till you cross the straight and reach Wellington.

The best social media plan is one that is integrated with your other means of customer communication… because that’s what social media is – communication with both existing customers and prospective customers.

2. Be pro-active, not reactive

As a species, most humans don’t live proactively.  They tend to follow each other like sheep. Sure, there are a lot of pro-active thinkers and business owners, but they’re definitely in the minority. In fact, sheep-like behaviour makes it much easier for us marketers!

When I say pro-active, I assume you’ve already got a business plan that has customer satisfaction ingrained as part of your business DNA. If you don’t, better call me, we need to get that sorted fast! Being pro-active means actively encouraging and listening to customer feedback, and then doing something tangible about it. Giving consumers a place to be ‘heard” is a great start – but then the real job lies in cultivating positive conversations.

When satisfying your customers is part of your business goals – then listening to your customers becomes a priority.  You want them to come back – you want customers to buy from you again – because you realize that it’s 5-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell another product to an existing customer – you will eventually realize that listening to your customers is the best way to keep them.

3. Invest the time

Business owners are frequently disappointed to learn that a social media strategy is not a “set it and forget it” type of activity. While many of the communication tools which are an integral part of social media are “free” – using those tools takes time to learn to use – and they require a significant investment of time on the part of the business owner.  You need to have at least someone in the business who can dedicate focused time to conducting media conversations online.

You may not have the resource to fund a full time social media team dedicated to communicating with consumers- but almost every business can launch a self hosted blog where consumers can come and share their thoughts.  Sure – you have to put forth a bit of effort in crafting those blog posts, but if you’ll invest that limited amount of time into your business blog – you’ll find REAL gold in the authentic comments from actual consumers.

Think of social media as a huge cocktail party where the conversations are being etched in stone and run your business accordingly.

Social media success formula

Strong products + a sincere desire to improve customer experience + a proactive commitment to communicating effectively with consumers = social media success.

General, Online Marketing & Social media
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