Social Media – What It Is and Is Not

Sam McRoberts Social Media Leave a Comment

Do you own a business? Does your business use social media? Facebook profile, Twitter page, Foursquare, LinkedIn, etc., etc. If the answer is yes to any of these, give yourself a pat on the back for being proactive.

However, though you have been proactive, the chances are VERY good that your business is actually using social media in a way that will drive away potential customers and hurt your brand. You may not want to hear that, but it’s probably true.

What? You mean there is a right way and a wrong way to use social media for business? Yes, actually. Yes there is.

Before you can really understand what social media is and how to use it for a business, it’s important that you come to understand what social media is not:

“Social Media” IS NOT code for “advertising platform”

You’ll notice that we use the word advertising, not marketing. Believe it or not, there is a difference between the two.

Advertising is when  you pay to shove place a message in front of people who may or may not want what you have to offer, trying to pester, cajole and manipulate talk them into buying. Advertising has become synonymous with impersonal, false, and interruption. Advertising is a shotgun approach. Advertising is far too often a total waste of money.

Marketing, on the other hand, is about relationships. Marketing is about building trust. Marketing is about identifying and then providing for people’s wants and needs. Marketing is about crafting a personal message, perfectly designed for your perfect potential customer. Marketing is a much, much more targeted approach, and provides a far better ROI.

Thus the term “Social Media Marketing“. NOT Social Media Advertising.

If you treat social media channels as advertising platforms, as markets in which to peddle your wares, then you will succeed only in alienating potential customers.

Now, that doesn’t mean social media can’t be used to increase sales, spread your brand, and inflate the bottom line. It can do all of the above, and has done so for hundreds of companies all over the world…but it isn’t as easy as creating Facebook and Twitter accounts and scheduling some self-serving ads updates.

The keys to social media use for businesses are simple:

  1. Listen
  2. Respond
  3. Be Genuine and Actually Give a Shit Crap

Instead of focusing on what YOU want to say, focus on what your target audience is saying. You may or may not like what you hear, but burying your head in the sand or trying to shout over everyone you don’t agree with won’t do you or your business any good.

Next, and this is absolutely critical: Invest in market research. Determine who you should be selling to (not who you think you should be selling to, but who you should ACTUALLY be selling to.) Don’t guess! Research and test.

Once you’ve identified your true audience, go find them. Follow them online. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them questions. Solicit their feedback. Find out what their wants, needs and pains are, and if necessary change what you are offering to meet those wants and needs.

Then, armed with that information, you can craft an image, a message and a product/service that will truly appeal to your potential customers.

But don’t just craft a facade! Take what you learn to heart, adapt, and become the company that your potential customers want and need you to be.

Now, it’s OK to announce a new product, new menu, a special event, and things of that sort…but sparingly. No more than 1 tweet or Facebook update out of every 10 should be “self-serving”.

Talk about your industry, about related news, about topics that appeal to your target audience, about local events. Ask questions. Answer questions. Get involved in conversations. Every time you interact online in that way, you are connecting in a personal way with people, and that will do WAY more for your business than any ad ever could.

If you need help determining the best way to use social media marketing for your business, please, get in touch with us. We’ll teach you what you need to know to succeed with social media.

If you want to truly understand the value of social media, and how to do it right, watch this video featuring Peter Shankman, a social media and PR wizard who needs no introduction:

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