So it seems like everyone is tweeting on Twitter, poking on Facebook and tumbling on Tumblr - you know there’s people there, but you’re unsure how to reach them with your message.
Don’t try. Seriously.
It may sound counter intuitive, surely the internet needs to know about your latest product launch or special offer - of course they do - but using Social Media to do nothing but broadcast your marketing mix goes against the very principals and reason for the success of it.
Social Media is just an online version of pub conversation, the sooner you realise that, the better. Do you want to be the old guy who sits in the corner rambling to anyone who’ll listen about the price of tea bags these days? Or do you want to be the dashing, beautiful dark and mysterious character that everyone wants to hear from at the bar?
Don’t forget the first word - SOCIAL
Social Media presents many challenges for businesses, none more so than engagement. Going back to the pub analogy, if you’re the old man spouting nothing but special offer links and deals no-one, or a very tiny minority, is going to follow your links and information - even if it’s the best thing in the universe.
To truly engage and communicate on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus et al, you need to be conversing, be ridiculously informative - sharing links to sites that you find helpful and intriguing, sharing details of the latest and greatest in your industry and advising other platform users about pitfalls and successes that can benefit them.
While your product may absolutely be a good fit, don’t lead with it as the solution to their problem - regale them with advice and information - it’s not disingenuous to do so, people like having their problem solved and doing someone a favour is a sure fire way to win their affections - then they will be in a more accommodating mood to listen to your proposition.
Time & Effort = Results
Don’t sign up for a Twitter account today and make one Tweet every six months and then bemoan it. Get involved. Get physical, get your hands dirty and invest time into these opportunities.
All of these services are free - so there’s no cost apart from 20 minutes of your time here and there. If someone said they had a fantastic free way to access your target market you’d bite their hand off, so why aren’t you bothering to get involved already, or doing so half heartedly?
Getting on these platforms isn’t necessary to running a great business - but doing so allows informal communication with potential and existing clients in a way that was unfathomable just a few years ago. Embrace them, embrace the toolset being provided and speak directly to your users, not in marketing speak, in human, understandable, no-obligation language.
For example, on Twitter I rarely mention my business, but rather I share my ideas, interesting links to industry websites and awesome web development techniques. I do so because the people who follow me may find them interesting or ask questions about how to implement some of the ideas presented. This allows me to then speak directly to them, answer their questions and counter any objections.
Being available on social media also allows an instant easy way for clients to get in touch, query a product or request support quickly and easily. Nothing does more wonders for customer relations than solving a problem quickly and publicly than Twitter.
Showing you care
Don’t undervalue the perception from your target customers that you care, prove it to them. If you’re available to them instantly from their mobile and they can ping you a quick request it adds a human face to your business that they wouldn’t otherwise see. It allows them to see your business not as Monolith Corp Ltd - but as Harold, the guy who knows about computers, or Jenny the helpful marketing lady.
Perception is everything online and in a digital age - social media allows you to be perceived as a modern, influential and communicative company that engages and socialises with your customers, rather than just chasing money and in doing so you’ll find you do less of the chasing and more problem solving.
Determining The Best Platform
You have to figure out which platform is the best for your business. As a rule of thumb, Twitter is uber universal as is Google Plus - but, is Facebook the best choice, or LinkedIn for other stuff?
Ultimately, Facebook is a very personal platform and would be best for companies that want to engage with the public, rather than business to business. You’re unlikely to be communicating with Andrew Howells, MD on Facebook, but rather, Andy Howells, Lord of the pizza eaters who just shared a video of cats riding motorcycles.
LinkedIn on the other hand, no vehicular cats in site, but rather professional Andy Howells, MD who knows everything about web development and nothing about a sense of humour.
Pick which one suits and stick with it, nothing is more loathsome that having ones Facebook feed filled with adverts, never forget the “unfollow” button is right there. So do it in moderation and remember the above, engage & converse, don’t broadcast!