The power of social media for businesses comes through building meaningful relationships with clients and prospective clients and putting them to work for you. Use it to develop and reinforce your brand’s values as well as trust and support.
But like most forms of spontaneous success, a lot of planning and preparation is needed.
A business needs to understand exactly what business it’s in, particularly its value proposition to clients and why people should want to buy their goods and services compared to those offered by their competitors. Marketing 101. It’s not rocket science but it takes a bit of careful and considered thought. These are questions that need answers before any business decides to take the plunge into social media.
Ray Kinsella made a big investment building his baseball diamond -- space that could have been used to grow corn, and his time that could arguably have been used more productively for tangible benefit. But the voices in his head kept telling him that there was more to life than that.
Sceptics and doubters abound. Like death and taxes, they’re part of life’s certainties and Benjamin Franklin should have added them to his list. These folk are motivated by tangible benefits and can’t be blamed for that. A reality is that social media is heavily shaped by intangible benefits. For this reason it’s really hard to measure its effectiveness in a manner that will resonate with Those Who Must Be Appeased™.
Social media can be about selling more products and services. But I believe its biggest value proposition is about building meaningful positive relationships. Successful relationships are as much about listening and understanding as they are about talking or evangelising. They’re a two-way street. Dr Phil got rich selling that message. I believe that businesses that are clear about their intent, value proposition and point of difference can also get rich, particularly if they include tools like social media into their toolbox and work them strategically.
Social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn) are free. They reach different audiences. That’s as good as the free stuff gets. If a business is going to make good use of these tools they need to invest a considerable amount of staff time developing and updating content strategies and tactics, preparing the content itself and monitoring closely what’s happening. Not just on their sites but also those of their competitors. They also need to be part of the discussion, as necessary. There’s a cost involved in this, particularly when the sceptics and doubters think that that time could be better spent growing corn.
Successful social media in a business needs a Ray Kinsella. Well, perhaps one not quite so blinkered, but a person overseeing this with passion, imagination and also good practical realism.
Yes, there are a bunch of formulae that can be used to calculate such things as return on investment and engagement rates for social media. Check out Wikipedia. I’m unconvinced about the credibility and value of such measures, largely because of the considerable amount of intangibles that take place in social media interactions.
Some New Zealand businesses have paddled in the waters of social media. They’re now giving up, possibly because it’s too hard or too intangible. Sadly many are off back to the warm, comforting glow of email spam and other “me too” marketing techniques. I believe that the reason nobody came to their social media sites is because they didn’t build them properly and have a Ray Kinsella to run them.