2011 will be the year more small businesses, non-profits and brands in general will make the leap into social media. They will sample the stylings of the gurus and ninjas and dive into every platform they can find. They will throw everything against to wall to see what sticks then amble away wondering why sales or donations did not sky rocket. They will scratch their heads and pronounce social media a failure and turn to more traditional methods of marketing.
And they will have missed their opportunity. The old adage of ‘you never have a second chance to make a first impression’ applies here like never before.
Before you take the plunge, take a step back and think. Social Media is just another part of your brand management strategy. It is a new marketing platform that operates unlike any other we have experienced. The short view is that social media marketing is simply word-of-mouth on steroids. The longer view is that, unlike traditional platforms, social media has put shifted the control of the conversation from the marketer to the marketee (OK, not a real word but you get the drift.)
So, you better know what your audience wants before you start. This is pretty much common sense marketing. Unfortunately, too often these common sense practices from the “real” marketing world are cast aside when social media becomes a part of the equation.
Which brings us a recent report from the IBM Institute for Business Value. You can read it in its entirety here. The thing that stood out the most to me was summarized in this graphic:
As you can see, there is a disconnect between what brands think and what their consumers want. Consumers are looking for discounts (61%) and to make a purchase (56%). These are their top demands. Unfortunately, brands rank those as the least important reasons for participating in social media.
Let’s face it. Your fans, followers, customers, or donors are not “engaging” with you in social media because they want a “relationship”. Sorry, but they’re just not that into you. They are into them.
As the success of Groupon and its ilk shows this is all about the money. You want to make money and they want to save it. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship – if you deliver on that promise.
This is not to say that you cannot increase your top-of-mind awareness with great content. It’s just that helpful hints, behind-the-scenes videos and clever q&a’s are secondary to real value. I think that what people say and what they do are often at odds. Starbucks has over 20 million fans and there aren’t any discounts o n the page. True, you can recharge your card but that’s a pretty slim island to hang a social media presence on. No, a brand like Starbucks has taken the sense of community you feel in a real coffee shop and tried to extend it into social media.
What is clear from the above is that your fans are (generally) not coming to you for that big social media buzz word – engagement. They are looking for something that will benefit them – financially, emotionally or personally.
It is your mission to find out what is unique about your brand that interests the public. Your followers may just be bargain seekers. If you’re a non-profit they may have a personal investment in your mission and want to feel “good” about their involvement. If you’re a band, they might just want to get closer to you (in a digital way).
Creating a social media content strategy is a complicated and time-consuming process. And it is a process! It uses your current marketing strategies but turns them from 2D to 3D because the people you are talking to can now talk back. Not only that – they can talk to others about you…and they will.
The point here is to align your strategies in social media with what your audience is looking for. It is akin to the old marketing adage of “find a parade and get in front of it.”
Remember, in social media it’s not you, it’s me.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist