Look, I’m new to social media, so I won’t shovel you expert advice about building a huge following. Your Twitter mojo is probably a thousand times mine. If you rock the social media house, keep doing whatever you’re doing. I’m probably learning a lot from you.
(The truth is, I’ve never worked for someone who saw any value whatsoever in social media, and I wasn’t able to sell it to the boss. So my opportunity to jump on the social media bandwagon was spent doing old-school stuff; powerpoint decks, data sheets, press releases. I know, I know. That’s another post.)
But like everyone else, I do have an opinion on how best to use social media to grow your business. That’s what it is ultimately about, right? Growing your business? Building a base of people in your community, so that you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on to help you deliver a finely-honed service or product to the people who are willing to pay you for it? Creating mind-share? Getting noticed?
I’m looking for all of that, too, and the advice I’ve found on how to use social media in my marketing strategy follows a massive bell curve. The range seems to break down like this:
The advice in the middle approaches a ‘best practices’ tactic for social media in marketing. Although I think we’re still a long way from that. If you are a thought-leader who publishes new material all the time, social media is exactly what you need it to be. You can gain a massive following and if you’re good, you can monetize that following.
But a cookie-cutter strategy won’t cover everyone. No more than a great cookie recipe will help you make a cheeseburger. If you’re selling air conditioner parts, the best social media model really isn’t there yet. If customers found out about you through Twitter, it’s a safe bet you’re a long way from a sale. You should use social media to build a community and get links, but not leads. And that reality will drive your strategy more than anything else. For the average B2B company, social media is still a luxury.
So if you’re not a constant online publisher, why worry about strategy? You’re still in the “Just Do It!” stage. Jump in.
Look at email marketing, which was the Wild West about ten years ago, but is now a (variably) respected marketing and communications tool that offers tracking, best practices, compliance guidelines, and an entire realm of best practices and expertise. Social media looks at email marketing the way email marketing looks at postcards. The strategy will come.
I’m not going to prescribe any specific approach, except to suggest that you take advice that works well for a publishing model with a grain of salt. In ten years it will be easy to know the best way to use social media, but today, despite all the hollering, we know nothing. I’m just saying; “Relax!”