It's important to be direct here. Social Media Marketing isn't free and it isn't easy. The initial thought people have is "I'll setup a Facebook page and Twitter account for my business and watch it grow". I'm sorry for those of you who were lead down this path, it doesn't work that way.
The First Step In Social Media Marketing
You may think the first step in Social Media Marketing is to setup your accounts, but it starts before that. Have you ever seen a Twitter or Facebook button on a website and clicked it only to see they have sent five tweets and don't have a cover image on their Facebook Brand Page? It's at this point the customer or potential customer doesn't bother liking your page or following you. Chances are you lost them to a competitor. So why did this happen?
The first step in any marketing plan should be strategy. If you have seen incomplete Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages it's likely their was a breakdown in the first step of developing this strategy. Did this business put a plan in place or did they simply sign up and hope people found them. Hope is not a marketing strategy.
You have decided to have a strategy session to determine if Social Media is right for you but what should you discuss? Here are a few items to add to your first Social Media Marketing Strategy Meeting:
- Who: Who is going to be responsible for managing Social Media accounts? Who will create content? Who will approve content? Who will publish content? Do we have anyone who understands Social Media and can manage this for us and if so, can we remove them from their current position to take this project on?
- What: What are we going to post? Shouting about yourself or your brand isn't enough. What are you going to share that will add value to the conversation? Content is king of the Internet... what content can you offer?
- Why: Why are we getting involved in Social Media? If your answer is "Because we need to be there", you may want to reconsider. This should be called "Who Part II": Who are you targeting with this strategy and is Social Media or the Internet the right way to reach them.
- Time: Do we have the time to commit to this? If not, you'll likely be one of those businesses who setup a Facebook page that now looks incomplete. This could cost you customers rather than bring you new ones.
- How: How will you track your success? How will you make adjustments when something isn't working or how do we allocate more to it if it is working?
Still think Social Media is free? Take into the consideration all of the above and ask any business owner if it's free. Chances are it costs more than you think.
But Social Media Is Still Easy
People often think of Social Media as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a few other select sites. Is it easy to register for these sites? Yes. Is it easy to post something to these sites? Yes. Is it easy to develop relationships and create content other people want to share? No.
Social Media is much more than the networks listed above. Social Media is about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Networking, Marketing, Lead Generating, Customer Service and Content. A good Social Media strategy accounts for all of these and makes them work together as one. It reaches people and once it does, it engages them. It brings them back for more and it has them share it with everyone they know. The process of posting to Social Media Networks is easy, it's making them work for you that's not.
Social Media Marketing can be great for businesses looking to grow and reduce their marketing costs but it only works if done properly. Don't fall for the hype of Social Media Marketing without doing your homework. Doing it right the first time will be more cost effective than re-doing it a second time and trying to get it right then.