Here’s a shocker: Social media is on everyone’s minds nowadays. My clients are looking for more, better (and cheaper) ways to reach out to their customers and prospects, but the flurry of tools available and the learning curve behind each leaves them bewildered.
A dear friend dropped this article by Zane Safrit into my Facebook account yesterday that pretty well nails what I’m hearing:
Small business CEOs and CFOs are hungry, anxious, for the power of social media. Social media is the great leveler for small business competing against global brands with an ad budget greater than all the revenues of a small business. True, authentic, conversations with small business and our customers are a naturally occurring phenomena. Social media would easily, genuinely, accelerate the spread of those messages.
But where to begin? In the world of social media you can twitter away your time poking Facebook friends waiting for a deal to Pownce and finally get you LinkedIn, but as easy as these tools are to tinker with, executives don’t have a lot of time to tinker. It’s why so much new media is written off as “kids stuff” — kids have time to learn this stuff while adults are busy making sales.
Without a common language to gauge what’s worth investing in, it’s hard to get my clients excited about social media. Zane points to using the language that business owners and leaders do speak: the bottom line.
Social media consultants, for all that is good and right in your world…(ok, a bit dramatic) connect those conversations with cash-flow and customers, prospects and conversion rates, hiring costs and employee turnover. That’s the language the CEOs and CFOs of millions of small business speak every day.
But that’s tricky too. You can’t exactly say that X number of tweets translates into Y number of sales. The old ad-barometers of impressions, clickthroughs or even conversion rates don’t work either.
But, there is a spot where much of the value can be broken down: in building relationships. If done right, social media can engage customers at a new level, allowing them direct access to the products, services and companies they love. Ways to have conversations, hear what customers are really thinking, and really talk to the people using your products and services. It brings the power of a Mom n’ Pop store (easy interchange between Mom, Pop and customers) to a new scale. To bring it back to business-speak — call it building brand loyalty, or customer engagement.
The next question, of course, is where to start…. so here’s where I encourage my clients to begin: drop in on Twitter (or name your favorite service), search to see if there are any conversations already in progress on your company, and listen. If you don’t find anything, start making friends, introduce yourself around the neighborhood, and start asking questions. (Don’t start marketing or advertising — just start chatting).
Once you get a handle on the conversations, then let’s talk about how to meet some of those metrics you live by every day.