Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Keys to Social Media Success

I see it every day.  Real Estate Agents and Brokers, Chamber of Commerce organizations, restaurants, diners, craft shops, spas, health clubs, you name it.  They’ll be so excited because they just started a Facebook page, activated a Twitter account, put their profile up on LinkedIn, etc…  They’ll post a few spam type advertising or sales messages, they’ll beg people to “Like” their Facebook page, to follow them on Twitter, only to be disappointed in a very short time and conclude that social media is not effective for them.  And they’re right.  It certainly wasn’t effective.  Why?  Because of a lack of education, limited understanding, and no planning.
Although there are many elements associated with the successful use of social media in your business or organization… there are three key elements which, when understood and exercised, will go a long way in contributing to that success.
  1. Strategy: You CAN’T just start using social media tools without a plan!  Winston Churchill said (during World War II), “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.  If there’s ever been an element of business where this holds true… it’s with the use of social media!  Countless business owners, Chamber Presidents, and Non-Profit Organization Executives recognize the fact that social media is a critical part of doing business today… so the next thing they do is “just start”.  This will only lead to frustration and guaranteed failure.

    Developing and implementing a successful strategy involves:
    - Defining goals and objectives.
    - Determining the purpose for your use of social media.
    - Understanding the social media tools available to you.
    - Understanding, and in some cases, modifying your habits.
    - Integrating elements of your strategy into your offline and online efforts.
  2. Consistency: Your efforts are doomed to fail without this!  The worst thing you can do is set up your various social media accounts and “get to them when you have time”.  You’ll get out of it what you put in.  How often you “post”, “tweet”, “comment”, “share”, introduce an article into your blog, involve yourself with a LinkedIn group, etc… should be determined while developing your strategy.   The time you devote to your social media efforts will be based on:
    - The purpose for your use of social media.
    - The tools you’ve chosen to use.
    - How you’ve chosen to connect the tools you’re using.
    - Your habits.This will change over time… however, without a starting point, you won’t know what changes and modifications you’ll need to make in order to fine tune your efforts and become more efficient and effective.
  3. PATIENCE!  I CAN NOT emphasize this enough!  We live in a fast paced society.
    - Fast Food.
    - Fast Coffee.
    - Fast Information.
    - Fast Delivery.
    - Fast Customer Service.
    - Fast Checkout.
    - Fast Banking.

    I think you get it.Let me remind you.  The use of “Social Media” is NOT about selling your products or services online!  It’s about “Social Networking”.  It’s about building relationships.  It’s about establishing “trust”.  We all know that networking takes time… strong, solid relationships aren’t built overnight and trust isn’t built in a week, month, or even a year!   The same holds true when it comes to social media.  You’re not going to see immediate results for your efforts.  An effective and successful social media presence takes time.  There’s no way around it.
Sure… the social media tools may be free… to sign up for.  However, as the saying goes… you get what you pay for.  If you’re anticipating getting something from your social media efforts in exchange for little or nothing, your results will be the same… little or nothing.
Did you know…
  • …that the times when you SHOULD be posting information, sharing, and engaging may differ from the times you THINK are best for you?
  • …that the primary platform you THINK you should be using may not be the best one for you?  You may THINK it’s Facebook… however, it might be LinkedIn… it could be Twitter.  It might even be a platform you’re not currently aware of.
  • …that part of the relationship building process includes engaging with those who may never be become a customer, client, or donor themselves however, they may be able to play a key role in helping you find connect with future customers, clients, or donors.  Do you know who these people are?
  • …that the most critical element to a successful social media presence revolves around “listening”?  Do you know how to do that?
It’s time to stop treating social media like a “toy” or a “hobby”.  Not only will you waste your valuable time… but it can also result in serious damage to your brand and reputation… neither of which you can afford.

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