Saturday, May 14, 2011

When and How Social Media Works

Turns out Social Media Marketing doesn't work, says Fast Company. Is this true? Of course it is. Companies that see Social Media only as an advertising channel or a filter through which to drive business, will inevitably fail.

However, saying that using a platform like Foursquare to drive business doesn't work is not the same thing as saying that Social Media doesn't work. That's like saying that a screwdriver doesn't work for driving in nails. Well, of course it doesn't - that's not what it's meant to do.

Social Media is not a golden ticket to riches. It is not a sure-fire simple way to get your message to more people than ever before. Social Media is not Foursquare, or Facebook or Twitter.

Social Media is a method of communicating with your audience and your market.

Let's look at when, how and why Social Media works.

Social Media works when you have something to say that your audience will want to share with others.

Every day is an exciting day for you. You have a lot going on. Some of that is stuff you really want your customers to know about. It's unrealistic to think that, if you have a special blow-out sale every Tuesday, that every customer will want to share that new every week.

So, what's news that's worth sharing? What is significant news for your business? A new publication by a popular author (if you're a publishing company,) or tips for bicycling locally (if you're a bike shop.) When you have something special to share, and you share the passion you feel about it with your customers - they'll want to share too.

Before you ask your audience to share something, ask yourself: Is this special? Is it exciting? Is this something *I* would want to tell someone about?

When you can answer "Yes!" to any of those questions - especially the last one - then send that message and ask folks to share the news. Make sure you recognize those folks with thanks, with rewards, with a nod...something, anything, to let them know that you noticed. A little thanks goes a long way to building loyalty.

Social Media Works because you care about your customers

Social Media is not a tool to drive business - it's a tool to communicate how much YOU care about your market.

This is the single most critical fact of Social Media that companies fail to grasp. Social Media is not, has never been, about you. Social Media is about the people who walk into your office, your store, visit your website, purchase your goods or services.

It's time for companies to stop asking customers to care about them. Checking into Foursquare may get them a small discount or a free appetizer, but the ROI of Social Media comes from time. The time you put into taking good care of your customers, and telling them how much they mean to you, listening to them properly, communicating with them openly. This will generate ROI, because you've actually made an worthwhile investment in your audience by giving them something to talk about and letting them know you're actually paying attention to them. When you invest in your customers, they will share your news, because they know that you care about them.

Forget asking your customers to do stuff for you - do something for them. That's good Social Media that works.
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