Analysis is now starting to come in on how many new customers have been generated by the big three social networks. It is looking like blogs, email and newsletters are still the more immediately effective way to reap new business. However, it is equally possible that those results reflect not the true potential of social media marketing but the ineffective use of those tools by man of the users. Thus far.
“How to use social media” is more than chatting with friends (or playing games) on Facebook and tweeting nothing but pricing and product specs on Twitter. I believe that by now, most folks know this, yet at the same time, I believe there is still an overwhelm and confusion about what to say and how often to say it. With the speed of updates flying by it is hardly any wonder that small business owners stall going online to market themselves.
The glib answer is that social media is best used to build relationships. This is a grand, but blurry statement that holds little tactical help. A better way to approach the topic is to consider the early 1990’s marketing excitement over the then new marketing one-to-one that was enabled by increasingly nimble technology. In one-to-one marketing, you would tailor your product to one buyer specifically. It was easy to describe, as a concept, but horribly expensive to implement and impossible to scale.
Enter then social media and suddenly there is the opportunity to market “one-to many.” And the most impactful way to talk that way is to make it look like it is a one-to-one conversation that draws many people in because they can relate to the subject discussed. This way, the conversation, targeted to one person – your ideal customer – yields more of the same time of people; people who can relate, people who have the same needs and same problems your business can solve. It’s a simple approach, that clears up much of the initial overwhelm.
With this mind, then, what do you say? You answer the ideal customer’s specific problem or tickle that one person’s sense of humor and you’ll find that others will enjoy the benefit and come to know you as an expert in that area. You have now created a “useful conversation” that people will forward to one another because it answers what others have wondered about and not been able to answer.
How often do you say? Some people can handle multiple touches a day, others prefer hearing from you once a week on a Sunday afternoon or once a month on the first Wednesday. What does your ideal customer prefer? What other things are they doing? When and where are they when they most want to hear from you? The answer to this question then helps you determine which particular social network you’re going to focus on.
While you need to have a presence on “the big three” – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – there’s no reason you have to have your main focus be there. If your customers are usually listening when they interact with your product, you will likely want to use an audio blog to engage them in your story. Similarly, if your product is impactful visually, you will want to use a photo-sharing site and perhaps lots of video.
Once you focus on the specifics of your ideal customer, the one-to-one conversation becomes much easier to have, and it makes more sense for the rest of your fan base to follow. How to use social media is not best deployed when you gather as many contacts as possible. It is at its most effective when you just have the right folks in the network: lots and lots of your ideal customers.