Smarter Marketing Blog

Social Media can be a solution to business growth, when used properly.

Social Media Choices

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

10 questions to ask yourself about your company’s social media activity.

Let’s face it – us marketers have flooded the social media scene. It’s a no-brainer really as, when done properly, it does offer an opportunity to raise brand awareness and strengthen relationships with people.

Despite all the advantages of social media however, I was reminded recently by a Facebook post from BAG Chairperson, Ramona Nicholas, that it should not be the only solution to your business growth. Ramona warned against small businesses spending too much time online and not concentrating on generating revenue. So, I thought that I would use this blog to explore the matter further.

In my opinion, Ramona is right. The number one thing to remember is that social media doesn’t sell. Despite having a following of say, 7,000 people on Twitter or a huge number of likes on your FB page, it doesn’t mean that they are all interested customers / prospects. In fact, probably 1% might be interested in a relationship. Think of the time you spend chasing the 6,930 others.

Of course, exposure is good for any business but no matter how well we ‘expose’ ourselves, ‘likes’ and ‘RTs’ don’t translate into sales. Unfortunately, some organisations pursue a goal of achieving thousands of followers, which on occasions is pure vanity and other times – a waste of energy. The danger is that using social media with such a narrow focus, may lull you into a false sense of marketing, resulting in unrealistic expectations and lost opportunities. In fact, this drive for numbers can actually alienate existing customers that do want to ‘link’ with you.

At O’C&K we ignore any business that asks for follows or ‘un-like’ those that use their online presence to constantly promote themselves i.e. broadcast marketing.

I am not discouraging the use of social media for marketing at all, it’s just that it is only a solution, when undertaken in a meaningful and planned way.  I’m also agreeing with Ramona’s sentiment that social media should be part of your overall marketing activity, but not the majority of it.

The customer’s overall experience of your brand will determine repeat business.

I outline later, under ‘tips and timesavers’, why it is understandable that social media is being looked to as a ‘fix it all’ strategy. This is evident to us when we talk to businesses about outsourcing their marketing. On most occasions they see social media as an inexpensive solution to many of their marketing problems. I don’t know how many times we have had to explain that a solid understanding of marketing is required before jumping on the social media bandwagon.

The message we try to convey is that traditional and social media marketing are a very powerful combination but must be fully integrated and linked to an overall business strategy. Simply knowing how to use social platforms and adding it on to an existing activity does not constitute good marketing.

Yes, customers will respond to professionally executed marketing messages but as we are aware, they also form impressions based on their experience and word-of-mouth. The customer will have to resonate with your story / strategy (not your channel) and offerings before they will become a repeat customer for your business. It follows that if social media has a part to play in a customer’s experience it is therefore, an important element of your marketing activity and resultant business growth.

Let’s think about marketing strategy for a moment. We all know that ‘finding’ the budget for marketing is difficult and where to spend it is even more difficult. It is very easy to be overwhelmed by all the experts out there, advising where to focus, how to split it up or when to do testing. In our minds, quite often a business may be wise to stick with what they have and ‘tweek’ it, in a smarter way.

By having a marketing strategy, linked to a business plan, many of the marketing solutions are obvious.  Where you might require some professional assistance from outside, is deciding whether another area of marketing might provide a better ‘bang for your buck’.

To get back on track here – the same questions you might ask yourself about your overall marketing, can be used to determine your social media activity.

Tips and Timesavers.

I’ve already alluded to not ‘putting all your eggs in the social media basket’. However, it is understandable why people want to start using social media. There are a variety of reasons why it makes sense to you, initially:

  • It is easy to set up and implement by yourself.
  • It looks like it won’t take up much time.
  • It costs nothing (other than your time).
  • You use it for personal reasons so why not your business.
  • Your competitors are on social media.
  • Your friends and other marketing ‘experts’ are advising you to do so.

Most of you reading this already know that engaging an audience with information, education, entertainment or even customer service takes up a hell of a lot of time. Your time is not free. Using social media as part of your marketing strategy is complicated, time intensive and a lot of work. This does not mean you don’t do it. It’s just that you need to decide how much of it you use or whether, in fact, you need it at all. Please don’t confuse having an online presence with using social media.

The blog post heading reads that ‘Social Media can be a solution to your business growth’. I included the words ‘when used properly’ because sometimes it might only require a small effort to bolster your existing online presence. For instance if you have a company blog, a social media channel is definitely necessary to promote same. However, you might only need to be on ONE channel – the one where your audience is!

So, if you are thinking about allocating marketing budget to social media, here are three questions to ask yourself, in the first instance.

– How important is it for your customers for you to be on social media? – Have you sufficient financial resources to allocate to this new activity?

– Are your existing marketing activities providing a good return?

There is no ‘yes or no’ answer to these 3 questions but thinking about them will set you up to continue the exercise and see how compatible social media is with your overall marketing plan:

10 questions to ask yourself about your company’s social media activity.

  1. Have you a set of goals for using social media.
  2. Will your customers / prospects receive added value from you being there.
  3. Can you compete with your competitor’s activity.
  4. Have you the skills, in-house, to dedicate the time to ensure success.
  5. Do you have a plan to engage with your audience in a relevant way.
  6. Where will you source your content.
  7. How often will you post & will you use it for promotions.
  8. What channels will you use.
  9. Do you have a way to measure the success of your actions.
  10. Will you commit to staying abreast of social media developments, as they occur.

Business relationships form in real life, and online, by being human.

If you are already ‘set-up’ on social media, but it doesn’t appear to be paying off, here are some thoughts that may help you review your activity.

Are you trying to be all things to everyone on multiple channels? Why not become an expert in one of them that suits your business and your customers. Become a thought leader.

Are you engaging with the people who followed you – or are you just promoting your business to them? If you have not set up social monitoring tools you should do so straight away – they are usually free. Listen for mentions of your brand, competitor’s activity, industry keywords etc.

Delete any inactive social media accounts that you have. It does not reflect well when a prospect clicks through a social media button on your website to find that there’s no one home.

We have covered this thought before in a blog, but it is worth repeating again and again – be human. Business relationships are formed by being personable with your customers.

To finish, I want to reflect on three things that remind me that whilst social media can be a solution for your business growth, there are caveats.

First of all, the basic concept of marketing hasn’t changed .i.e. to let people know that you have something of value to share. So, social media isn’t a substitute for marketing, but it can be an alternative channel for people to connect with your business when they need to.

Secondly, remember that people do not want to see your brand in the middle of their personal conversations online. Social media, for the general punter, is an opportunity to share with friends and family. This must be respected.

Finally, social media will always be an interactive channel between business and customers, however what ‘social’ means to both parties is going to change in the near future. Be there but be professional and aligned to your business goals.

  If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

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