The most important thing to take into account when considering your social media strategy is your customer or intended market. Social media is simply another tool in the marketing arsenal that allows organizations to effectively reach their target audience.
The Deluge of Social Media Experts: Who can really help your business?
With the growth of social media marketing, "experts" have been popping up every week with their "how to make a million dollars" or "I'm a social media superstar..." stories. I will help debunk some of these so called experts.
If you do business online (I'm sure you do) then no doubt you've been considering whether social media is an appropriate channel for your online marketing. If you are a small business, you are likely evaluating whether you or one of your staff can manage this channel, or whether it's appropriate to hire an outside agency. Either way, the need to seek guidance from someone in the social media space, or at least begin doing research and educating yourself is on the horizon. In a short period of time, you will find a website with someone claiming to be a social media expert, and they may be making a claim about their "formula" that's guaranteed to work. I'm not saying everyone is a snake oil salesman that claims to have a succesful formula, but there are a few things to look for that will keep you from making an unwise investment.
#1. The most important thing to keep at the forefront of your research is that there is a BIG difference between personal social media, and using social media for business. Managing a personal brand is not the same as managing a corporate brand, and most social networks (excluding Biznik, LinkedIn, and Fastpitch) were designed around consumers -not brands. It is absolutely possible to create a large personal network on these sites, and social media has turned some consumers into brands (iJustine for example.) The difference is, building a massive personal network on social media sites is not going to happen for everyone - and it's not going to work the same for every company. Many of these social media "experts" can share with you how they built their massive networks, but they won't understand brand marketing enough to tell you how to translate their success to your business - and it IS DIFFERENT.
#2. The second most important thing to keep in mind when evaluating resources for social media marketing is resources. Social media for it's own sake doesn't work very well in a business. For many of these "experts," using social media IS what they do so generating relevant content for their friends and followers online is easy - they just talk about what they are doing. For any other type of business, this requires a parallel content generation strategy (something none of these experts will tell you.) Like with blogging, content is critical and updating your Facebook status, or Twitter account 10 times a day is not a content strategy. I'm sorry, to make this medium successful for you it will not be as easy as signing up for Twitter and Facebook.
These 2 tips alone will help you quickly see through many of the so-called "experts" and help you ask the right questions about whether you're ready for an internal or external social media marketing strategy. Social media is a very valuable marketing tool done right, and it should be a growing part of your online marketing strategy. Just don't think anyone has a million dollar formula for being a social media success over night.
Learn more about the author, Matt Tharp.
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