Social Media is a wonderful and confusing phenomena that gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to directly connect with customers and clients. Although I’ve recently had the opportunity to get some insight into how some large brands pursue social media marketing, I’m particularly interested in how smaller company’s use it given their limited budgets. September’s edition of Fast Company Magazine offered 36 Rules of Social Media that seem tailored for big business, so I thought I’d take a stab at calling out a handful that I feel are particularly impactful for small business and offer my take. So here it goes….
- If All You Do is Respond to Complaints, That’s All People Will Send You –if you’re not creating content that’s interesting and helpful to prospects, you’re social media presence essentially exists to field complaints. While I agree, I’d take it a bit further by suggesting that your business must first be worthy of compliment. I have personally seen a large brand whose trouble with product distribution has created a gigantic bitch fest that the brand has chosen to ignore.
- Social is 24/7, Not a One Time Stunt – Social media marketing is a long term effort and it generally takes at least 3 – 6 months to get an understanding of how well a given campaign is performing. The “sudden” popularity of campaigns like BlendTec’s Will It Blend took years to develop. Therefore, smaller businesses must go into social media with the understanding that it will require a sustained effort.
- Always Write Back – I don’t necessarily agree with this one. Certainly if a question or comment is specifically directed toward the company, then a response would be appropriate. Otherwise I think that it depends.
- Have an ROI. Have an ROI. Have an ROI – Social media marketing should have a goal and a corresponding Return on Investment. Typically this may take some time to calculate, but I’m a big proponent of comparing the results of social media with other marketing channels to pursue those that are the most productive.
- 10 People Would Rather Speak to Comcast Melissa Than Comcast – Social media connects people, so one of my biggest aggravations is when companies fail to understand this. As a participant I want to feel as though I’m communicating with a real person, not a brand. Comcast is one large company that includes employees names in their Twitter handle. Another accepted way to do it is to append every message with the employee’s first name or initials.
- Not Everything Will Work, and That’s Fine – The successful use of social media has many moving parts and what works for one business will not necessarily translate to another similar business. In short, you must be willing to experiment and fail. If you’re not willing to do this then social media isn’t for you.
In closing, there are plenty of rules that marketers throw around and generally they’re all crap. If you’re interested in pursuing social media for your business use some common sense, be prepared for a long-term experiment and be willing to fail. It’s really not that complicated.