Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is This Your Social Media Sign?

A few weeks ago I was discussing the endless advantages social media could offer my friend's volunteer woman's organization: why they needed to be involved and why my friend should convince the organizations "CEO."

"Yup, I can see the benefits and opportunities and it will work for us but only if our leader is smart enough to get it - otherwise social media is more of a liability."

Now that is an interesting observation. Unfortunately, it's the truth.

Every business, regardless of its niche, can find value in social media but that doesn't mean social media is for everyone or that everyone should be engaged.

So … how do you know? If you answer yes to any of these questions: jog, don't walk, away from social media.

You have no social skills. Social media is about people. If you never had friends as a child and you can't deal with people then maybe social media isn't for you. If you don't like to talk to people, get someone else to handle your social media services. Your customers will thank you for it.

You have no sense of humor and can't handle criticism. If you can't laugh at yourself then you don't belong on the Internet. Success in social media means being able to embrace the weird and quirky. You need to show your fun side to get people to like you. You don't want to be seen as the dweeb of the Internet - it will target you as someone who can virtually have their lunch stolen.

Just add water! If your definition of social media is creating a blog or an account on Facebook and then kicking back and waiting for the leads and conversations to pour in, social media is not for you. If you are not going to create a marketing plan and dedicate resources to that plan then don't waste your time setting up social media accounts.

You think social media is the new way to sell. If you don't think it's necessary to create a relationship with someone before you sell them on your company or product, social media is definitely not for you. To be successful at social media, you have to hear what is being said about your company or your brand; that means listening before you speak. How will you know what to give people if you don't know what they want? We've all been target marketed by our friends which is acceptable in the world of social media. However, shouting your message to a room full of strangers is not.

And speaking of Selling …. If you are shouting your sales message, not listening to your audience, chances are you consider success in social media as a numbers game. Your goal is to have 3,000 followers on Twitter, 10,000 Facebook fans and enough RSS subscribers to match your telephone number (including the area code.) If you are this person then you think the higher the number, the more successful you look. Savvy people on social media need only spend a few minutes looking at your list of followers or fans to determine if you have garnered followers because of meaningful content or just casting a net out into the social media waters. It does not make you look like you know what you're doing and it just annoys everyone else.

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain. When Toto unmasked the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy realized he was incapable of granting her wish to return home to Kansas. Companies who succeed in social media are the ones who don't hide behind the curtain and who bring relevant content, conversation and media to the party. Don't hire someone to blog as your company president or use Twitter to push your RSS feed: that's using social media to be a tool and you're missing the point.

Your Social Media Strategy is Twitter. Twitter is a social media tool. So are blogs and Facebook. They are useless unless you have a strategy about how to use them. You don't decide to enter a marathon and expect to be able to run 15K when the day of the race arrives without any preparation (see "Just Add Water" above.) Social media is not Twitter but Twitter can be used to accomplish your marketing strategy.

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