When meeting a client for the first time there’s often a barrier to overcome, that of gaining their trust. Why? Because there needs to be an upfront and honest appraisal of not just the online channels they are using for their business, but the rationale behind their use of them.
The first challenge is for me to overcome being perceived as holding a pin, ready to burst their balloon, with the offer of my services as the obvious solution. I’ve got to pay my bills too, but I pride myself in trying to educate people as to the ‘why’ of social media before we even discuss help with the ‘how’.
Reassurance, empathy (we were all beginners once) and a sense of humour go a long way with the delicate matter of drawing attention to shortcomings, without sapping motivation. No-one likes bad news, so I try to make it good news, but could be even better!
The trouble with social media is that so many have just equated ‘free’ with ‘easy’, which for business it is not. I’ve written before about relying solely on younger members of staff, who “know how to do social media” to set the company up with a social media channel or two. Probably Twitter and Facebook, because they’re the ones most people do. Do they? “Pop!”
So, what is your business all about? Who are your customers? What kind of people are you wanting to target as potential customers, etc etc. It’s not rocket science, requiring the same consideration as when undertaking any marketing strategy. However, with social media there are too many businesses focussing on the ‘free’ broadcasting facility of social media. “Tell them and they will come”. “Pop!” They might, but then again they might not. These days, more than ever before, people make up their own mind and don’t respond so well to Broadcasts.
Here’s some typical scenarios I come across:
“So you’ve got a Facebook page, but no website”? “You’re saying you don’t need a website, because you’ve set one up on Facebook and your customer base is on Facebook?” “You’re not worried about not being indexed well in Google Search?” “Oh, you didn’t know Google doesn’t index content on Facebbook particularly well.” “You don’t seem to have a custom url for your business page?”. “You didn’t think that was particularly necessary for SEO?” “Pop”.
“You’re on Twitter and I see you have a lot of followers, but many of them don’t have an Avatar, profile picture”. “So, you follow anyone who follows you?” “Yes, it can increase follower numbers fairly quickly, but…” “Actually, now I’m looking more closely, your last Tweet was a day or three, or four ago”. “Yes, I know we all get busy, fact of life”. “You’re only really ‘on it’ because everyone else seems to be using it?”. “Do you think Twitter could be a useful tool for your business”. “Oh, so you don’t really see the relevance of Twitter for your business”. “Pop!”
“Would you consider using a blog?” “You’re saying you don’t have time to run one?” “That aside, it could be a useful way to engage with customers and it’s likely to help you in Google Search. “Blogging’s for those who haven’t got better things to do with their time.” “Pop!”.
OK, so that’s all a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s interesting that so mangy businesses, not understanding the broader picture, end up pursuing their social media strategy in a rather haphazard way. I mentioned the word ‘strategy’. Actually many don’t have a strategy, they just ‘do it’.
If you have a good strategy and the tools in place to run it properly then social media doesn’t have to become a burden. If you use social media to engage customers it will undoubtedly help your business development. Social media is about engaging with customers. By thinking of it as CRM, Customer Relationship Management, you may understand its relevance more clearly.
If you’d like to talk to me more about harnessing the benefits of using social media in your business, contact me. Alternatively, you’re welcome to attend one of the regular Social Media Huddles that take place in Northampton and Kettering where you’re free to come along for an informal discussion. Current dates and booking instructions are on the Social Media Huddles page.
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