If you want social to work for you…

You need someone to work on social media

Social Media sites you should participate in first

When I first published this piece on my blog six years ago, Bruce and I were both looking for clients and work in social media. While neither of us is an active social media consultant today, my interest in social media consulting hasn’t changed.

When I reread the piece, I realized that the majority of it is still true. (I have made some minor updates to bring it up to date.) I hope someday more companies will understand that social media and marketing are not the same thing, that there are specific uses for each and specific skills needed for each.

People who post ads for social media work usually ask for people who can help with accounts on the social media apps they know about. They ask for people who can create great Facebook pages. For people who can “bring the conversation to our site”. They ask for social media experience. They ask for all the right things.

But then many of the ads ask for those same people to:

  • Drive traffic
  • Create marketing campaigns
  • Write ads
  • Increase sales

In other words, they want people who are into marketing. They are generally looking for a new way to do things, as long as the things that need to be done don’t change. They want you do to do what they are comfortable with, not what their customers and clients have come to expect. They don’t mention the need for people to help telling the story of the company/the product/the restaurant.

That’s a problem.

Because with social media, not just the words have changed. What you need your employees to do has changed. What you control has changed. What content is shared about you has changed.

What is that change?

Your customers and clients now can reach out to their world and find what they need and share what they know. If you aren’t set up for them to share good stuff about you, they won’t come back. They will buy once and walk away.

The tasks listed above aren’t bad things to have people do for your company. In fact, each of those things can be good and should be done. They just aren’t all that needs to be done anymore. You need to be willing to set the expectation that you want to do the best possible for your clients and customers. You want to be the place people do business with over and over.

Many of the companies running these old style ads seem to want someone to do all of this for little or no money with overnight results. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen. Overnight successes take a long time to make happen. They take energy and effort. They take work.

Get the conversation going. Get a social media consultant who knows that:

  • Traffic alone won’t help. If 100,000 people visit your site, but none stay longer than 10 seconds, you won’t gain anything. If none of those visitors come back, you aren’t much further than you were when you started. If none of them have a great story to share, you won’t stick in their mind the next time they need your product or service.
  • Creating a marketing campaign can be a good thing. Don’t plan in how to tell the story and how to connect with those you market the products to and you will never know if it worked. You can’t just tell people something anymore. You have to join the conversation and listen to what they have to say as well.
  • Writing ads is something that is never going to go away as a required skill. I know that. BUT what if instead of writing “ads”, we asked people to share what they think. If instead of sharing marketing speak, we listened to what they want and what they need. If we actually found out how they are going to use our products, why they are going to come to our restaurants, etc. What if we actually listened to what they want from us, instead of telling them all the great things we offer them.
  • Increasing sales — oh, that’s a good one too. Everyone needs to increase sales. That’s a given. But, what sales do you want to increase? Do you want someone who will bring in 600 people over the course of a year, but never bring any of them back? Or, do you want someone who will over that same year give you a way for those 600 people to talk about your product and share how wonderful your service is? Take the second approach and you have 600 sales people out there as well as 600 repeat buyers.

If you want people to be interested in what you are doing, do it right.

Let them find you because someone told them how great you are, not because you told them how great you are. Give the customers a way (and a reason) to talk about how great your team is. Give them something to pull them and their friends back to your business. Make it possible to sell once and have the customer buy many times.

Easy to say, harder to do, right? Here are 5 things you could do today to start the process:

  • If your business has a location, get out there and claim it on Yelp, on Facebook, yes — even on Foursquare/Swarm. Make it easy for your customers to check in when they walk in the door. Make it worth their time to check in. Reward those who check in frequently, yes. But also reward the average user as well. Put up tips that tell the world why they should come to you instead of your competition.
  • Do something with your Twitter account. Don’t just post links and what you are doing. Talk to people. Find out who is talking about your industry or your business. Talk with them about who you are and what you do. Get involved in issues that matter to your customers. Do the right things and do them now. Really want to make an impact? Don’t just run a one-time campaign to gather followers. Make it worth their time to read what you share. Pick a follower every week to praise and reward.
  • Make your Facebook page a destination people want to visit. Add a game. Let people talk. (Yes, that means you have to monitor the conversation. Being big enough for the trolls to notice is a good problem to have. Especially if you go into it with the approach that you will reward content and conversation, but ignore the trolls.) Give people a reason to come back regularly. Send out updates to those who like your page.
  • Join the communities that your customers belong to. If you sell art supplies, find an online community for artists and join in the conversation. Ever been to DeviantArt? Check it out. Great place. Etsy is another one every art supply company should check out. So is Pinterest.
  • Run contests. Not just one time things, but contests that make it worth people’s time to come back again and again. Always give a prize that brings people to your business. And then, surprise the winners by asking who else you should reward. Ask people to share pictures of your products in use. Ask them to share advice they got from your store. Have them share content on your Facebook page, your site, your blog. Share retweetable and shareable content on your social media accounts.

The same 2 roadblocks to any change apply here:

You don’t have time to do all this stuff. You have a business to run. That’s where the true beauty of hiring a social media consultant comes in. Social media experts aren’t here to run your business. They are here to help you run it better. To learn what your customers want. To share with you how to reach your customers that aren’t returning and bring them back to your business. Social media consultants are here to be your voice to the customers and their voice to you.

You don’t know if you can afford to pay someone to do all this. Look at it like any other business expense… It isn’t whether you can afford to pay for it. It is whether you can afford not to do it. If you want to succeed in today’s business world, your business needs to budget for social media — just like it does for taxes.

None of this is going to cause overnight growth.

What it will cause is a increase in interest. And if your customers are interested, they will come back. They will share. They will talk about you. They will spend money on your products and services. You will make more money. Your business will grow and continue.