Still today, everywhere I turn I hear many business owners and executives debating whether or not they should jump into social media. In many cases, key decision makers fabricate a couple of excuses as to why it’s still not time yet and then move on to other matters. Ironically, by procrastinating they don’t even realize that they’re sacrificing taking their business to the next level in not just one, but several areas of their business.
Take a quick look online, I’m willing to bet that approximately half of your competitors have already started to leverage social media, and once they gain their momentum and have a solid understanding of how to use it, it’s going to be more challenging for you to continue to operate your business with the same profitable and competitive margins that you’ve enjoyed to date. The sacrifices are diverse and impact every area of their business. Social media reduces advertising costs, increases advertising effectiveness, dramatically improves customer service levels, increases executive awareness with respect to their products and services and how their customers interact with them… and there’s more!
What is social media?
Social media is a coined terminology that encompasses leveraging social networking and socially-driven websites for the purpose of marketing.
How is social media different from traditional marketing?
Social media marketing is not simply marketing on social channels. Companies who enter the social media realm must dedicate one or many key staff members to socialize and market via these social channels. The best way to describe it is to compare it to traditional networking events – you don’t walk into a room and start handing out business cards, there’s an entire process to networking effectively; and the same goes for networking via social media.
Why use social media?
Social media enables companies to connect better with their leads and clients. It enables individuals to follow (or befriend) a company so that they can keep up to date on their products and services. It builds relationships and loyalty, opportunities and awareness. Social media is the single largest transformation in the marketing industry in the last 100+ years! The benefits that companies have reaped from their social media exposure is just the tip of the iceberg! So… why use social media? Because you’re leaving hundreds, or thousands of opportunities on the table for your competitors to grab. Because the relationships you can forge with both potential and existing customers via social media creates powerful loyalty. Because, well in a few words, you’re in business to succeed.
But where do I start?
I’ve put together a brief meeting agenda that you can use to start planning how you will approach your own personalized social media plan. Try this out and see where it takes you, anything is better than procrastinating yet again, but if you need more help, seek out a social media expert and have them help you walk through these steps. Typically this process can be handled in a couple of 2-3 hour meetings and you’ll have a plan for your social media strategy with clearly identified goals and a solid understanding of what steps you need to take to fulfill them… before you know it you’ll be learning the tips and tricks that make a difference between “just another social media presence” and the single most valuable extension to your company’s marketing efforts that you’ve ever witnessed.
Here’s the agenda. Make sure that you record and then subsequently write down everything that is said during your meeting. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, only ideas that haven’t evolved yet into a good one. You’ll be surprised what ideas come out of some of the things you think up with that you initially thought were of little or even no value:
- Identify all team members : names, roles & introductions
- Identify your existing social media practices (if any)
- Who? Identify the types of customers that you sell to (e.g. children, adults)
- What? Identify what each type of customer purchases (e.g. services = mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; products = clothing and gear, etc.)
- Where? Identify where your customers do business with you (e.g. Ottawa)
- Why? Identify why they buy your products or services (e.g. exercise, entertainment, competition, discipline and respect, education, etc.)
- When? Identify when they buy your products or services (e.g. year-round but especially September/back to school and January/New Years resolutions)
- Existing customer base – identify the number of leads and customers you are targeting. If you have a social media presence, write down your social media vital stats at this point (e.g. # of fans, # active, etc.) and document what’s working, what’s not & discuss and try to determine why?
- Now as a team, start brainstorming what should we do? What’ll the initial plan be?
- Daily (e.g. talk about what’s happening in classes, talk about training for upcoming fights, include famous quotes that often receive lots of thumbs up, etc. )
- Weekly (e.g. talk about upcoming events, fight cards, current promotions, ask your members questions about the club/programs, etc.)
- Monthly (e.g. advertise specials, create social media driven contests, etc.)
- Who is responsible for each and who will hold these individuals accountable? Document this and follow up. I cannot emphasize this enough, this step is critical!
- How do we measure success? Even if goals are tough to reach, we need to set some. Set some goals and identify what you would consider successful. Monitor your progress and continue to adapt.
- Why is it important to review successes and failures and adjust? (Remember… never become complacent… the moment you do, your competitors narrow that gap, or increase it more if they’re ahead of you!)
I’ve started using social media to advertise my company’s products and services? What next?
Start assessing what’s working and what isn’t. Document… document… document… and tweak!
If you pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and before you know it, your social media presence will return rewards that you never could have predicted! Trust me, social media is here to stay… it’s time to adapt!
CEO, N-VisionIT Interactive