In my former public relations career one of the jobs I was tasked with was setting up the company’s social media efforts and obtaining buy-in from senior management. Like winning a football game if you’re the Detroit Lions, engaging in social media is easier said than done.
First, my colleague and I working on the project quickly discovered that most senior management had only a hazy idea of what social media even was. Worse, they were ignorant of its rapidly rising influence – and this from a BIG company! Add to the stew the fact that the attorney’s knew next to nothing about it; the top two people in public affairs had only a passing knowledge of it; and you can guess how tough it was to convince anyone of the necessity to utilize this new tool.
We finally dove into the social media foray only after a volunteer firefighter tweeted about a coal fire at one of the company’s power plants. The tweet gave an impression there was a raging fire in one of the coal piles. The reality was that there was some smoke, no flames and it wasn’t much of a story. Really! But the media picked up on that one tweet and pretty soon we were fending off calls on this so-called fire which was so minor that none of us in public affairs had known about before the calls started to roll in!
That illustrates an all too familiar problem in the world of public relations and marketing. What you don’t know CAN hurt you.
Most small businesses think getting social means slapping up a Facebook page and getting a Twitter account and presto, they have a social media for small business strategy. But, that’s only the beginning. They often don’t realize that social media is just that – a two way conversation with customers. And, you have to give your customers something of value so they keep coming back or your Facebook page and Twitter account will be like that mid-summer flower that suddenly didn’t get watered. Here are some tips for those interested in social media for small business.
What is Your Strategy?
Step one, monitor what your customers are saying and discussing. Pick a very relevant keyword that allows you to be found.
Determine Your Objectives
What do you want your social media to do. Bring more traffic to your business? Give yourself a higher visibility in the community? Improve your ROI on advertising?
Determine a Platform(s) to Meet Your Needs
Will it be Facebook, Digg, YouTube, a blog, your website with a blog, Twitter.
Find Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing
Look, there are a LOT of people who participate in the social mediums and know it. In my experience there are far fewer who know how to use it. Most ad agencies pick a young person and let them handle it. The fact is, your blog, website and the rest of your social media should always reflect your brand image, though perhaps mixed with a bit of offbeat when talking about social media. Don’t ask your neighbor’s kid to do it.
Once you begin, you need to monitor it, engage in conversations with your customers and most importantly, USE your platforms to engage your customers in a value-added meaningful way. And, most importantly, don’t be too corporate or overdo it! Social media is very un-corporate and informal.