"Things were so much simpler before Apple," says my 11 year old daughter after a recent panic attack over the thought of losing her Instagram followers and pictures. Her iPod Touch was a lemon and luckily under warranty, but the time between her device crashing and her logging back into her Instagram app was pure torture… for both of us!
But she is right… the olden days before the explosion of social media apps for smart phones a mere 5 years ago were indeed much simpler. Much simpler for my dramatic tween daughter, and much simpler for business owners and marketers who are now faced with a plethora of sites and platforms to think about, with respect to social media. There are lots of blogs, articles and research that highlight the great things social media can do for your business, yet I still witness mistakes businesses and brands make using social media.
Here are the top 3 items a business or marketer new to social media should think of:
1. Social media won't make me "like," or "follow," you just because you ask me to.
It is increasingly difficult to get consumers to recall, let alone react to or engage with brands and messages. There are lots of choices users have within social media; they can like, comment, post, share, upload, etc. and much of that effort focuses on family, friends and the occasional person from high school they don’t really remember, but thought they should be Facebook friends with anyway.
If you want a consumer to follow or like your business or brand, there needs to be a really, really compelling reason why. Mike Anderson, VP of Consumer Insights at The Center for Sales Strategy has helped many marketers and business owners think about how to make a positive impact with their very best customers using The Marketing Strategy Model, a process to help uncover the benefits sought and competitive perceptions of your best consumers. Using this approach can help you position your business or brand in a way the audience you wish to attract more of wants to be interacted with. Make sure the incentives, whether they are content driven or offer driven, are indeed the right fit for both you and your best customers.
2. Social media can't prevent unhappy customers from exposing your mistakes.
There are lots of reputation management tools and dashboards out there, in part because unhappy customers will call out businesses and brands on social media. Consumers feel more empowered to blast a product or service now more than ever. The hashtag has become just one way unhappy consumers using social media try to find fellow complainers. You can find an #IHate for just about any big brand on Twitter.
However, some brands such as SunTrust Bank are open to criticisms and complaints, because they are prepared to address issues that may arise. They do it by effectively addressing consumer concerns quickly and transparently on their Facebook page. Since negative comments are most likely inevitable, make sure you've thought about how you want to handle such comments or posts, if at all.
3. Social media doesn't help you make a lasting impression.
Social media's audience growth is impressive and so are the number of diversions consumers come across while engaging with social media. Whether it's grandma's slightly inappropriate comment on your birthday, to the chance to win a free bed from Sleep Number, posts have a short shelf life. However, there are ways to increase the shelf life your business's posts through consumers liking and commenting, but as the 2 points above suggest, it's not always easy.
So before you post, think about ways in which you can make a lasting impression. Compelling photos and videos are one way, but also think about other content a consumer may find compelling enough to share, such as tips, unknown yet interesting facts about your products and services, or answers to questions you frequently receive.
There's no doubt social media is powerful and helps evoke emotion in consumers. Just look at my daughter's "need," for Instagram, but as with any media, social media is merely a platform. How you use it is what makes the difference for your business.
If you consider the 3 points above when planning how your business can benefit from social media, you'll have a greater chance of developing a successful strategy along with the tactics to help benefit your customers and your brand.
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Kim Willoughby is a Senior Consultant for The Center for Sales Strategy