Social media isn’t rocket surgery

16 10 2009

Those are the words Amy Mengel cited as the mantra of last week’s Inbound Marketing Summit. In her post Five reasons corporations are failing at social media, Amy summarizes why companies aren’t finding success with social media. And as Amy writes, it’s not because social media is hard to do.

When you boil it down it’s about listening to your customers, being helpful by offering your knowledge and giving them interesting content to share and thereby advocate for you.

The failures Amy wries about are really a lack of preparedness and commitment to the process. But I’d also like to add this: A big question a company needs to ask before implementing a social media strategy is how do their core audience (aka customers) use social media, if at all? This may seem like an obvious question to ask but I think part of the reasons for the failure many organizations experience is a lack of this understanding. If your customers don’t read blogs, there’s no point in setting one up on your site to engage them in dialogue. Ditto for Twitter, Facebook and other social tools out there.

But if your audience does use social media, and you as a company are committed to using it to engage them via this channel, you need to be aware of how to use it effectively. There are tons of examples of companies who have implemented social media strategies with great success – hint: google “social media success stories”.

The pitfalls that Amy lists come from forgetting a key point: social media is about connecting with people. Your customers aren’t stupid. If you’re not contributing something of value to them via social media, they will ignore you. And it’s not about using social media because everyone else is. Find out first how your customers use social media (if at all), then create a plan to engage them in a way that provides value (to them).

Social media isn’t “rocket surgey” but it does require thought, planning and dedication.

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3 responses

21 10 2009
amymengel

Thanks for sharing the link to my post; I’m glad you enjoyed it. You are absolutely right in that too many companies jump in to social media without knowing where their customers are. Like you said, Facebook may not be a good choice if a majority of customers are hanging out on user forums, for example. A good social media strategy always starts with people – and part of that is knowing where they are online.

5 11 2009
vunguyen

There are two ways you can find out if your audience is using social media (as I see it), one is through brute force and the other is through opinion research. By brute force I mean try out the social media out there and see if you get any tractions (followers, commenters, etc.). I like brute force as it provide a risk-free environment to “test the waters” and you can back out at anytime.

5 11 2009
melgallant

Vu, thanks for your comment.

Testing the social media waters – by brute force as you say – can be more cost effective. But it can cost you in terms of time if you end up using the wrong social media tools to reach your audience. One way to find out where your audience is online is to straight out ask them. It doesn’t have to be an expensive process either. It could be a simple as asking them during a customer service or sales call, or looking at their website to see if they have a blog or Twitter account, etc. Another easy way to do this is to simply Google your company name and see if it comes up in any forums or online communities. If people are talking about your brand on these sites, you now know about it and can respond appropriately. By doing this bit of research upfront, you know exactly where your customers are, what they’re saying about you (if anything) and where you should invest your social media resources. 😀

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