I Quit! No Buzz No Biz: Social Media

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Social Media | Steve Barnes | Marketing | Social NetworkingIt’s not working. You’ve setup a Facebook Fan Page, a LinkedIn profile, a You Tube account, a Twitter account and a Corporate blog but nothing tangible is happening.  

Where’s the Buzz? Where are the fans, friends, followers, comments, links, traffic, search engine rankings? Where’s the customer engagement?  You’ve heard all the hype, but where are the real benefits for your company and your customers?

You have worked hard. You decided to show up to the game but, as you soon found out, showing up doesn’t mean you will gain an audience.

If you’re like most businesses, you’ll have a challenge attracting new customers and growing your social network. Don’t give up. Here are 9 tips to help you generate the buzz you need.  

9 Tips to Generate the Buzz You Need   

1. Start with Crystal Clear Objectives   

Failure to begin with measurable objectives is probably the most common barrier to creating buzz in your social network. Most businesses approach social media tactically and without a well-defined plan. They’re the proverbial “ship without a rudder”. Your social networking strategy should be tied into crystal clear business goals. What specific outcomes do you intend to attain as a result of social network involvement? Make sure the alignment is obvious and understood by all involved in the program. Once you’ve clearly identified objectives, then you can create a strategy that outlines which tactics make the most sense to reach and engage your audience.  Defining a clear strategy can help you reach social media goals, including:   

  • Inbound activity
  • Lead generation
  • Conversion
  • Sales
  • Registrations
  • Referrals
  • Links
  • Reduction in costs CRM
  • Decrease in customer issues

2. Pay attention! Show that you care   

Pay attention to your customers’ preferences towards information discovery, consumption and sharing. Where do your target customers go online and what do they want when they get there? What is their social media skill level? Users have different skill levels in social media applications, just as they have different social skills in the real world. This information is essential if you want to connect in a meaningful way. Each engagement is unique to the user, long gone are the days of the “one size fits all” consumer experience and interaction with your brand. By listening to conversations you can reduce the time it takes to convert a prospect – to a lead – to a sale.    

Listening is great, but showing you care is better. If you don’t, what’s the point? Be personal and put mechanisms in place to help your customers when they shout to the world “I have a problem!” Don’t worry about scalability because, if your after-the-fact fire-fighting becomes too costly, you will change your approach. You’ll find that it’s actually cheaper to “use this feedback” to train your support personnel and provide better service in the first place. Either way, your company and your customers will win.  

3. Create a unique likeable personality   

Whether you are a large multinational technology company or a small local day spa, the power of a transparent and authentic personality can inspire trust and trust builds loyalty. Show that you have values that your customer share and be honest in your interactions. Your personality can be the secret weapon that builds the kind of customer loyalty your competitors will envy. What does your brand stand for in the mind of your customers? I like Chris Brogan’s approach. He asks “What’s the soul of your brand? What’s the one thought that defines you – and it’s not features and benefits. Volvo = Safety.  Apple = Innovation.  Disney = Magic. What’s on the other side of your = sign?”  

Lose the marketing-speak and talk like a real person. People share thoughts that are easy to remember and want to connect with people and companies they can relate to. If you don’t talk like they do, they’re not likely to invite you in. You can start by making up a good 140 character pitch that people will want to share. Communication is changing; you can’t keep saying the same old crap, the same old way you’ve always said it. Talk like us, and we’re much more likely to pay attention.  

4. Recruit your network champions  

Your social network will need critical mass to succeed and champions (raving fans) will help get you there. It is much easier to engage additional fans, friends, followers, comments, links, traffic, search engine rankings etc. if you have fresh, quality content being provided by experienced and knowledgeable experts. Your network champions, together with active members, create the critical value add for your network. Interesting stories, valuable links, and funny anecdotes proliferate quickly across the network. One of the defining characteristics of social networks is user generated content. But keep in mind, the vast majority of network participants are consumers, not creators of content so focus your efforts on your network champions. These advocates will sway over prospects, and could defend against detractors. Their opinion is trusted more than yours. 

5. Test, track and refine   

Failure to begin with measurable objectives is probably the most common impediment to proper social media measurement. Your social networking strategy should be tied into specific business goals. Web analytics, social media monitoring, CRM metrics, offline conversions and most importantly an integrated analysis can facilitate the feedback loop. Simply focusing on fans, followers, comments or sales can leave out some of the essential pieces of why some efforts fail and others succeed.  

6. Don’t dive into social media unless you’re ready  

You need objectives, goals and ways to measure success and accountability.  

 7. Don’t be an endless self-promoter    

 Know the difference between becoming a thought leader and being an endless self-promoter.  

 8. Don’t be afraid to try social media because it’s measured differently  

ROI will be challenging with social media, but there are many ways to measure business impact. You need to have a baseline to start with.  

9. Don’t try to “boil the ocean”.  

 Focus on your target niche and craft your message specifically for them.

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About Steve Barnes

Marketing and biz dev fanatic. Student of the world and disruptive influence pushing the envelope of growth through innovation.
This entry was posted in Brand Strategy, Social Media Marketing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to I Quit! No Buzz No Biz: Social Media

  1. jensweeney says:

    I think you nailed it Steve. I also believe the reason companies fail when using social media is because they saw it primarily as another tool to help generate revenue. Any company that starts at this premise in regards to social media will always fail. Social media is a communications tool that is meant to help connect people and yes, brands too.

    When a brand uses social media correctly, consumers connect to it, which often results in long-term gains for the company. Think about it in your own life. Each time you have a positive interaction with someone representing a company, your opinion of the company rises. You think, gee, they listened to me and seemed to really respect what I have to say. With each positive engagement, the chances of you interacting with that company again (i.e. becoming a loyal customer) increases. As the company builds its relationship and trust with you, it will also begin to increase its bottom line primarily because we, as humans, are more apt to buy something from a friend than a stranger.

    We’re living in an interesting and exciting time. Consumers are exerting their power and marketing is changing to meet consumers’ demands. As such, I’d argue that companies really need to focus on developing solid relationships with customers than primarily on revenue. When they put the relationship first, they’ll do whatever it takes to strengthen that relationship. And the stronger the relationship they have with their customers the more likely it will translate into revenue.

    • Steve Barnes says:

      Great comments Jen, thanks for sharing. You’re right on the money.;) Social media is anything but cause/effect. It is by definition fluid and circumstantial, and because it’s a two-way conversation rather than unilateral shouting, the customers control the frequency and intensity of the message. Brands focused on short term ROI over long term relationships will get shut out.

  2. John Simons says:

    I don’t feel social media is being well-utilized by most companies or corporate entities today. There doesn’t seem to be a common “strategy” for businesses to manage their social media. Some rely on internal marketing staff who really aren’t sure exactly what to do, or they get someone else to do it, and that person usually doesn’t understand the aim of representing the business to engage in social media. This sometimes results in irregular interactions or blatant advertising.
    The system will probably iron out over the next few years, but the businesses who do it first and do it right, will be better off.

  3. Tim Novack says:

    Steve, a very thoughtful piece – my only comment would be that in my opinion the process should start with ‘brand mapping’ to ensure that the brand’s values and the promise that is delivered are aligned, relevant and compelling to the company’s audiences. The brand and what it stands for has to be the point of difference that drives strategy and ultimately the ROI from communication/conversation. Being ‘good at social media’ will not in itself ensure the sustainability of a brand as over time all players will be equally ‘involved’ and potentially, little competitive advantage will ensue. The most successful ‘social brands’ at the moment are those that have a very clear idea of their brand purpose and the value this provides (Nike, Dell, Starbucks, SAP etc). This is no accident.

    The foundation for social media must be the brand – if the brand is misaligned to its audiences or worse dis-eased in its delivery and experience, then the only ROI you will get is more ‘negative transparency’ i.e people telling you and the world how rubbish you are. Good to know but very damaging.

    • Steve Barnes says:

      You make a good point Tim! Thanks for the comment. In essence it is still new and emerging medium and eventually the mist will clear and the importance of brand clarity will prevail.

  4. Linda says:

    Steve you are right. Many businesses create accounts across multiple social networks and unfortunately publish content without a plan or purpose. Social media will be useful only if you have your goals, planning, target customers and motivated staff to maintain your customer service.

  5. silvia says:

    I had some huge take-a-ways from this post Steve (nice to meet you). One of the big ones, which I promptly shared within my own FB group is this:

    “Listening is great, but showing you care is better. If you don’t, what’s the point? Be personal and put mechanisms in place to help your customers when they shout to the world – I have a problem!”

    Unfortunately, we as sellers of widgets just want our followers and fans to click and buy, There is little value placed on ENGAGING, CARING and SHARING. It’s viewed the way commercials are – expensive and ineffective as a call to buy action.

    Thanks again Steve.

  6. Scott says:

    Thank you Steve for such an eye opening article. Very fascinating.

    It makes me think of one of my favorite books, The Tipping Point.
    Social networking provides an ideal platform for influencers/ trust agents who now play a pivotal role in the marketing mix. Word of mouth has taken center stage.
    Bravo. You’re a great educator.

  7. James says:

    It takes time because it is about building a bond between you and your consumers. I think the biggest misconception about Social Media is it will bring you instant internet fame, ROI, etc. It’s not a magic pill. It’s also an ongoing process. It’s a very powerful tool, if used properly, it could improve your business in many many ways.

  8. Pam says:

    Thank you Steve. Social media can not always change the quality of your products or services. However, it can always improve the level of service you give to your customers. It can help you get to know your customers better so they know you care about them, not just the money they spend with you.
    Cheers!

    • Steve Barnes says:

      Exactly Pam. Great customer service removes friction; you’re removing future purchase impediments and certainly, once you’ve built that bridge using usefulness and trust, your ability to then “nudge” the consumer toward purchase via whatever mechanism that makes sense is a lot more effective.

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