Today I had a discussion with a marketing college concerned social media (platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and how our clients are adapting to their use – or not. Smaller companies seem to know that "the big boys" are participating in the social media scene, and that there before they should, too. They are hearing that good results are out there for the brave new participants. And while these platforms are changing the way we implement our marketing programs, which can be daunting for some companies, I would argue that much is still the same. The essential message companies bring to market should still always highlight product or service benefits to the customer. Staying customer-centric with messaging is still as key as ever. These new social media just give companies another venue to reach their customers, and now a way for customers to reach back. So what sometimes holds businesses back? Here's what I think, and I welcome your comments!
1. Fear of the Unknown . These are new vehicles, and new users can be unsure about their return on the investment. How much to invest, how long an investment is required, and what potential returns will result in all valid questions for a business owner to ask. But just because these tools are "new," does not mean they should be scared, nor that they will soon become irrelevant. Remember seeing your first Personal Computer? I do. (Okay, so that tells you I'm not in my thirties anymore. But it also tells you I have some perspective.) Were not you a little mystified about just how the darn thing worked? Were you going to lose your data? Was it safe? Sometimes we still have these worries, but we do not let them stop us from benefitting from an awesome piece of technology.
2. Stranger Danger. The point of social media is to contribute, contribute, contribute … and then they will come. Like in the movie, Field of Dreams, remember? It is a bit of a leap of faith – put information out there, and "they" will come. Who is "they"? "They" are the people and companies who are interested in what you have written about, which of course should be quality information that is also in some way relevant to your product or service! Some business owners start using Twitter and feel a bit freaked out that "someone" is following them online. But the type of "stranger" following you on Twitter is someone with interest in your business, not a stalker or some insane zombie wandering out from amidst the corn. You do not know them – yet. But you should, because they are your next new customer. They are no more frightening than any business prospect ever was, even though yes, they found you online. Scary? Not.
3. Writer's Block. It can be daunting to conjure up topics to write about, especially when you know you should consistently be posting something of value in order to get results. Will you have enough material? Creating an editorial calendar to map out potential topics for the year can make this less overwhelming. You're in your line of work, hopefully, because you have interest in it. Share that interest! Once you start dreaming up potential blog topics or Facebook posts you may find it difficult to stop. If you're really stuck, another idea is to collaborate with a complementary business and ask them to write a guest article for your blog. You can even ask a customer to contribute something, which they will find flattering. Or if they do not love to write, just ask a close customer what they'd like to know more about, and you've got a great new topic that others are probably wanting to know about as well. One of my clients makes compost, for instance. They could write a blog post for a local garden center's blog in Connecticut or Indiana (they have operations in both) about how to compost at home or what the benefits of organic compost are. People reading it will appreciate finding a good local resource for quality compost that will benefit their newly planed spring pansies (purchased at said garden center!), No doubt.
4. Resource Constraints. These days, this is a real biggie. Some smaller companies may worry that they need to hire someone practically full time to keep up with social media requirements. Not so. Hire a good writer with the intelligence to learn your business and experience with social media, on a project basis or on a small retainer. You have now cleverly outsourced your social media needs without blowing your entire marketing budget for the year. You just found one great resource to call on if you're reading this!