TIP NO. 16
If you are going to use social media, make sure you are willing to put in the time to plan, develop, and maintain a proper strategy
I am assuming you’re a busy small-to-medium-sized business owner. You’re flat out running your business, but you’ve decided you can’t put it off any longer – you are going to embark on a social media marketing campaign.
Well, that is great. I applaud your enthusiasm.
However, the question you need to ask yourself is – how do you, as a business owner with limited resources, create a social media campaign that flies instead of … well … sinks like a stone?
Unfortunately, succeeding on social media, especially if you are a small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) isn’t easy. You need to know exactly what you are doing and you also need to take the time to put together a coherent strategy.
Here are my handy hints for building a social media campaign that shines:
Handy Hint No. 1: Make sure you have a good product or service to sell
It sounds obvious, but it can be overlooked. If you are going to create a successful social media campaign, you need to have a high-quality product or service to sell.
I have yet to hear of a strong social media campaign that went viral based on a product or service that was nothing more than puffery.
A good example of a business that used social media extremely effectively is American children’s clothing manufacturer Lolly Wolly Doodle. It started as a tiny, but solid, operation based around eBay and used Facebook to turn itself into a multimillion-dollar enterprise employing 160 people. Recently, the company attracted $US20 million in venture capital funding.
However, Lolly Wolly Doodle’s very successful Facebook campaign would never have worked if the products it sells hadn’t been good. As its Facebook page states: ‘Lolly Wolly Doodle clothing and accessories are designed and sewn with care, attention, and love. We offer you beautiful clothes at affordable prices.’
Lolly Wolly Doodle posts samples of its children’s clothing on the company website and social networks, so people can order them in whatever size they require. The company does not keep an inventory of items. Instead, it sells the items online first and then makes as many items as it has sold, meaning that it is never left with a dead inventory. This enables a made-in-the-US company to compete with companies that manufacture overseas.
Handy Hint No. 2: Research how social media works
I said in the last instalment of Words that Bite that you need to understand exactly how social media works before you plan your campaign. This is worth repeating.
You will probably need to do some research to get your head around the way in which Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever other social networks you think are appropriate, are used as marketing tools.
It is also important to appreciate that each of the social networks serves different purposes. You need to work out which ones are most appropriate for your business.
A useful place to start your research is Dave Kerpen’s book Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and other social networks). He explains social media well and uses lots of practical examples to demonstrate his points. It also helps that his book is very readable.
Handy Hint No. 3: Work out your purpose
One mistake a lot of SMEs make is to think that merely having a presence on social media is enough. It isn’t.
Before you launch your social media campaign, think about its purpose:
Establishing your purpose will affect how you use social media.
Handy Hint No. 4: Listen to your customers and/or clients
One thing that is vital to understand about social media is that it is not the place to spend time yelling about how great your brand is. Instead, you should use it to listen to your customers and clients.
One of the most useful aspects of Facebook and Twitter is the way in which they can be used to get feedback and test ideas.
Brandi Temple, the founder of Lolly Wolly Doodle, initially focused less on sales goals than on fostering relationships with her customers on social media. She interacted heavily with her customers on Facebook, sharing her entrepreneurial story and designing clothes based on customer input. For example, if she had posted a green dress one day and someone said they wanted it in red, she would post a picture of the dress in red the following day. In return, customers would post pictures of their children wearing Lolly Wolly Doodle designs. In this way, they became unpaid advocates for the brand.
Handy Hint No. 5: Check you have sufficient content
Before you embark on a social media campaign, you also need to make sure that you have sufficient content to justify a social media campaign.
Basically, you need to have something of value that you can offer your clients and customers through social media.
Ask yourself this question – if someone ‘likes’ you on social media, what do they, and you, get in return?
The possibilities include that they:
Handy Hint No. 6: Be selective
You should also be selective about which social media platforms you embrace. This means that you need to sit down and research each of them and work out which ones suit your business. It is important not to dilute your strategy by launching on too many platforms.
For example, I would think twice before launching simultaneously on seven or eight social media platforms.
I would also suggest that if you aren’t sure which social media platforms you should be using, you refer back to Handy Hint No. 2.
Handy Hint No. 7: Think about how to create a conversation with your existing and potential customers or clients
Since social media is all about a conversation, you need to think about how to engage your existing and potential customers and clients in a dialogue.
This means that you have to be interested in getting customer or client feedback.
Therefore, you need to think about creating a place on Facebook or Twitter where people can ask questions, share feedback, and interact not only with you but one another.
Creating an engaged community can be very useful. As your community builds, you may find that customers and clients:
Handy Hint No. 8: Be willing to put in the hard work
It is important to appreciate that launching and maintaining a social media marketing campaign is a lot of hard work. It is not simply a matter of opening an account on Facebook and Twitter, sitting back, twiddling your thumbs, and watching people flock to your business.
You need to take the time not only to develop your social media strategy but to maintain it.
If you want to build a social media marketing strategy that has any chance of succeeding, you need to make sure you:
In the next instalment of Words that Bite, I’ll be looking in more detail at how you can use Facebook to promote your business.
Are you too busy running your business to think about whether you should embark on a social media marketing strategy? Would you like someone to look at the issue for you? If so, call the Pink Rottweiler on +61 (0)409 609 903 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.