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If You Build it, They will Come…

I have seen many businesses that looked at social media as a passing phase… at least they were crossing their fingers and hoping it was.  Others felt it wasn’t relevant to their type of business.  This way of thinking has led to them simply “dabbling” in social media.  Ultimately, they end up neglecting it and concluding “it doesn’t work”.  When a business chooses to simply dabble or chooses to outsource social media negative results are almost always a certainty.

It is very common for us to hear “My son (or daughter) set up our Facebook page (twitter account, blog etc) but nothing ever came of it.”  You cannot have an “if you build it, they will come” mentality when it comes to social media.

Your online presence needs to be built, given life and then it needs to be nurtured so it stays alive and grows bigger and stronger.

Social media is not something you set up and then it runs itself.  I have heard it say way too many times that social media is time consuming in the beginning, while it is being set up, then the time that needs to be dedicated to it will subside.   This is absolutely not true.  This attitude is the biggest reason why social media fails.  On a positive note, it is also why more and more companies are uncrossing their fingers, accepting that this “new” concept is here to stay.  It is now common for companies to hiring a social media person or establishing entire departments dedicated only to social media and online lead generation.   Social media will always fail and be a drain on the company’s bottom line when they don’t have someone (or a few “someones”) dedicated to this as their  job within the company.  I find the results are also unfavorable when companies outsource their social media to a third party.  Why is this?  Because that third party doesn’t know your business, your clients and your industry as well as one of your own employees does.  They are not there to learn and grow and see the evolution of growth in your company.  A third party is also not as concerned about your company’s bottom line.  Someone dedicated to this within your company  will know how to “play the game” that works for the needs of your company.
Business are now seeing this is not a passing phase.  They also realize that quality and attention needs to be paid in order for this type of marketing to pay off.  Not only payoff, they are realizing an online presence is a necessity, no matter what type of business they are in.   The trick is figuring out how to make it work for your business.  This is not a “one size fits all” deal.
When a business jumps on the social media bandwagon they need to really wrap their minds around what that means and all that this new endeavor entails.  It is not as quick and easy as jumping on Twitter or posting a blog once in a while.  It’s not about someone who already has a full time job at your company spending a few minutes each week, “checking things out“.   Here is the truth about social media: the beginning, the setting it up is actually the least time consuming and the easiest part.  Why?  because no one has found you yet and no one has started to communicate and interact with you yet.   You are also not developing content, researching what’s being said and what are good, relevant things for you to be talking about.  Getting content out into the world takes time.  What are people interested in and talking about?  How do you or your clients contribute to that conversation?  This is not about selling products it is about participating in a conversation so you become the “go to” person for information and guidance in the world that your business is part of.  I hear people say all the time, “what’s the big deal?  I’ll just throw some things up on twitter once in a while and blog once in a while.” Sure, that is great if you want to use social media as an outlet for your daily ponderings… but if you want to get paying clients out of it, it’s a whole different ball-game.
So, assuming you are going to get with the social media game here are somethings to consider.  This is a full-time commitment, it is your choice to spread it out over a few people who each work on it a little each day or each week or assign one person this task as their full-time job.   If you choose the route of using multiple people, be sure they are  communicating with each other or have a schedule.  The last thing you want is for everything to go unattended because everyone though someone else was doing it.  Regardless of whether you have one person or a team here is a little help to guide you in choosing the individuals for the job:
  • Make sure they have a good grasp on social media and how the internet works
  • Make sure they know your products and services as well as your client’s products and services if you are mainly B2B.
  • Make sure they know you products and your consumers needs and lifestyle (outside your product).  For example if you are a store that sells Kayaks don’t just blog or tweet about your products, blog and tweet about what your customers are interested in.  For example, blog and tweet about great Kayaking vacation spots.  Expand your blogs and tweets outside your world, but within the world of your customers interests and your knowledge base.
  • Be sure they know how to write!
  • They also need to be good at dialog.  Social Media is not about putting information out into the world, it is about establishing relationships and starting conversations.  When you put something out there and someone comments on it, that is an opportunity for connection and to open a dialog.
  • Be sure they are passionate about what they do.
In the PR/ad world,  we need to maintain this knowledge for our business to grow, but we also need to be a source and knowledge base for our clients so they can to look to us for expertise and guidance.  How do we do this?  We need to know about, speak about and write about anything and everything that is relevant to our world as well as theirs.  We also need to know where our clients need to have a presence in order for social media to work for them.  They look to us for knowledge and guidance and as their ad/PR agency; we better know what we are talking about.
Right now, the topic that is being thrown around by our clients in the Industrial world is “pull all of our ads in the trade magazines and focus all on the internet”, or “forget the internet we’ve done just fine with the trade magazines”.  We strongly recommend a balance of the two… but that’s a blog for another day.