The way most marketers and business owners approach social media is surprising. Many of these individuals understand that social media offers a new marketing platform that has a remarkably low cost of entry. As a result, they want to jump on this new opportunity and start using social media marketing.
Jumping on the New Opportunity
The marketing director starts planning messages for the public about the business and its products and
services. These become grouped into “campaigns” and they start blasting out messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like. When there is no response, they decide to make a video and share it on YouTube.
When the campaigns are reviewed, and reveal no positive results, the decision is made to create more messages and to send them out more often. In many cases, this approach will generate one or two responses – but they will be negative. Inevitably, someone will post a derogatory comment or say they just don’t care.
What’s wrong with this Picture?
There are three primary reasons for the failure of this “social media marketing” approach.
- Failure to define a targeted audience – Anyone can aim at nothing and hit it every time. But what does that accomplish? Broadcasting a message to people with no interest in or need of your products or services is not likely to win customers.
- Failure to demonstrate credibility – Assuming that you have identified a group of people who might have need of your products or services, why should they listen to you? Why should they trust or respect your message? What have you done to show them you know whereof you speak?
- Failure to listen – Because you did not listen before proclaiming your message, it probably sounds like advertising. It typically fails to address the specific needs and pains of the particular audience, or does so in the terms they use to discuss those needs. Because you did not listen, you probably failed to connect the benefits of your product or service to the needs of the market.
How to reach out through Social Media
Social media is, first, and foremost, about relationship. The medium is a vehicle through which people make connections and build relationships. It is only by listening and building relationships that you can identify and target the right audiences for your message or build trust and establish credibility with them. It is only by listening to your target audience that you learn of their needs and the pains that make it difficult for them to do business with you. Only then can you communicate with them – not in canned messages – clearly and pointedly about how your organization can remove roadblocks and demonstrate the benefits they derive from using your product or service to meet their need.
What to do first
The beginning of any social media strategy – whether for marketing, customer engagement, lead generation, or research – must be actively listening. Until you listen, everything you broadcast via the social media is simply a demonstration of your lack of understanding of what your customers and your prospective customers want.
If you find the relatively low cost of using social media attractive, start by identifying a target segment in one or two social media communities and monitor their conversation for about three hours a day for at least two weeks. Only then will you be ready to think about what you might have to say to the audience.