Today what I hear is: “I know I’m supposed to be doing that, so I have a Facebook account.” Or, “Yeah, I got my teen-aged nephew taking care of that.”
Unfortunately, simply posting occasional announcements about upcoming sales or telling people why they should use your service is not social media marketing. This is isn’t helping you. In fact, it could be hurting you.
What’s worse, you’re not taking advantage of what could become the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Why?
Social media is the world’s biggest cocktail party and everyone’s there–including your competitors and potential customers.
I first heard the cocktail party analogy from marketing guru David Meerman Scott, who used it in his best seller, The New Rules of Marketing & PR. It immediately clarified why social media networks are marketing gold.
Imagine walking into a networking party at a hotel. People are roaming around, interacting with folks they know and introducing themselves to those they don’t know. They’re talking about the economy, the weather, the price of milk, etc.
You get into a nice chat with someone and he asks what you do for a living. If it were me, I’d say, “I’ve got a national PR company that specializes in publicity.” The person might say, “Wow, I’ve got a friend interested in that. Let me introduce you!”
The friend may or may not be present at this cocktail party.
But, if that same conversation happened on a social network like Facebook, that friend and dozens more would be pretty close by. They may actually be “listening” to your conversation. That’s what makes social media such a valuable marketing tool. You are exposed to thousands more potential customers than you would through traditional networking channels.
However, this won’t happen if you don’t have a plan. What works on social media–and what doesn’t–are the same things that work (and don’t) when you’re networking at that hotel conference room party:
Go in with a plan. If you’re going to a party to network, you have goals. Maybe you want to find prospective clients or get people interested in your upcoming project. Identify your target demographic and learn which influencers will be at the party: the local media, politicians, celebrities, etc.
On social media, the world’s biggest cocktail party, making the right moves gets a bit more complicated and involves some strategies.
Don’t stand in the middle of the room saying the same thing over and over. Repeatedly posting the same thing, like “Come in for our big sale tomorrow” or “We won Business of the Year!” is like going to a party and saying the same thing over and over. People will run from you.
Instead, engage in conversations on a variety of topics. They can be related to your business or book, but in a tangential way. Someone who sells jewelry, for instance, might share a great trick for cleaning rings.
Be genuine and show some personality. At a party, you smile, ask people questions about themselves, and maybe even tell a joke. If that’s your personality, let that personality reflect your brand. People are drawn to people, not things, so let your humanity shine. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Other users will quickly figure it out and you–and your brand–will lose their trust.
Social media is a great way to build awareness of your brand, cultivate prospective customers, and establish yourself as an authority. It has tremendous value for anyone with marketing needs, and it’s really not intimidating once you jump in. Plus, it’s more fun than an old-fashioned networking cocktail party.
Photo by Viktor Hanacek