One of the biggest frustrations that we face as we help businesses craft their social media strategies is the idea that social media is a miracle cure for all that ails companies, says digital strategist, Melody Maker.
But this is not the case at all. Social media will not fix your business if you have fundamental problems in customer service, marketing or product strategy, nor will it turn you into a cool brand if you are not one already.
Adoring hordes of fans and followers won’t flock to your social media properties just because you decided to start a Facebook page and Twitter account.
With this context in mind, here are four tips that will help any business to set the right expectations for social media and create a strategy that works.
1. Compare apples to apples
Don’t compare yourself to brands that have been active in social media for years and don’t expect that you will achieve overnight what has taken them years to accomplish. Brands that got involved in social media early have become role models in this space because they have built the experience and made the mistakes already.
They have engaged with their customers in social media for years, building relationships with consumers in the process. Remember, building relationships takes time and patience. And it’s also important to embrace a new mind set where you listen to consumers and take their suggestions to heart.
Don’t just mouth the platitudes about engagement and interaction – you actually must be willing to listen and learn, and respond to the needs of your market by making changes to your business and products.
2. Pay peanuts, get monkeys
Engaging in a social media space requires an in-depth understanding of the digital medium, as well as insight into your brand. It is not cheap or easy to run a successful social media strategy.
Thinking that you can pay an intern, or asking an agency to deliver amazing results “like that brand does” is not going to work unless you are willing to put your money where your mouth is.
Most brands that are experiencing success in the social media space have invested to get there – launching exciting campaigns and capturing the attention of consumers does not come cheap. Social media is now a cluttered space and you won’t have the luxury of being first to market. The competition is fierce, so you will need to set yourself apart through the value you deliver to consumers.
3. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Be authentic and true to your brand. If your brand and products are not sexy, social media will not miraculously make them so. If you want to be seen as cool, then you will need to be innovative and smart in the ways that you interact with your audience.
Consumers want real value, so figure out what your value proposition is and how you offer value to a consumer’s life. If your brand doesn’t actually care and you are not open to listening and changing, then don’t bother.
4. Selling ice to Eskimos
Social media is not a fit for every brand. If you are looking to a good agency for advice, they will tell you so and help you to set realistic expectations. Be wary of agencies that promise you the earth as there are many who will take your money when they know that you are not going to see any real return from engaging in the social media space.
Don’t just use social because everyone else seems to be doing it. Really interrogate your reasons behind getting involved in social media and then set your expectations accordingly.
Melody Maker is a digital strategist at Acceleration Media.