Would buying a piece of canvass make you Picasso?
Probably not …
Where is the art and genius of painting?
Think of your social media and other external communication channels as canvas for your business.
What paints the pictures of your offering, relationships and credibility on this canvas?
IT IS WHAT YOU SAY.
“Now, do I need social media for my business?”
The answer is a question : Do you need to develop relationships in order to develop your business? If yes, the social media provides tools to do just that. The world is evolving where these tools are in use more than ever, and they bring advantages of easy content distribution and active participation from the audience. Put them to use.
How do you go about adopting these tools?
Step One: Define and Tune into Your Marketing Strategy
Use a systematic framework to analyze your business, and articulate the value you create for each product and/or service.
Use market research and competitive analysis to benchmark your position against your competition.
Do your homework and discover target market niches that are attractive for your business. Have a clear idea about how to capture these.
Identify target persona; clearly define what the needs are of each persona, and how you can meet them.
Clear strategy is a key to success of any marketing initiative; leave alone the social media channels.
Step Two – Clearly Identify the Role of Social Media
For example –
- Connect with people that would bring synergy to your network and relationships. Expand your network.
- Understand what kind of questions people are asking. What are their needs that you can meet? Use ideas and conversations that would pull them to you. That will generate business leads.
- Cultivate relationships and credibility with prospects in your sales funnel.
- Use social media for customer support.
- Communicate with your target audience.
- Support your other marketing and sales initiatives such as email marketing, advertising, trade shows, sales prospecting, etc.
- Show your thought leadership with quality ideas. Build credibility.
Every business is unique, and so is the role of social media.
Clearly understand how social media channels work, and use them to your advantage.
For example –
- When you have a product update, a press release may not directly reach all prospects in your sales funnel. It might be too much for your sales team to call every prospect and get them up to speed. Social media can come to the rescue, as you can disseminate information to all using the viral nature of the tools and automated distribution.
- Do the market research, identify target prospects, and pull them to you using social media conversations. This may not be as easy as it is with other tools. Social media opens up your options and abilities here.
- Answer questions and build your knowledge base. Use it to service your customers and build community support around your offering. Phone conversations are lost once you hang up; email conversations remain trapped in an email thread that you can’t use for others. Social media content, on the other hand, can help you cultivate an asset that can serve customers, cut down your support costs, and pull prospects.
Brainstorm all ideas before you start diving into social media. Always revisit the options and possibilities on an on-going basis, as well.
Step Three: Define Your Content Strategy
There are two steps:
- Think of a range of questions you have to answer in the sales cycle and that will also serve your customers. Think of topics that would be relevant to your prospects. What would add value for your prospects? Sometimes it may be providing a tool or building a knowledge-base they can use.
- Do online research to find topics you weren’t aware of. There could be a lot of use cases and questions that will help you help your customers. You don’t what you don’t know. Online research helps you learn what you didn’t know.
Create a system to capture these ideas and add to the list of possible topics.
Where and how will you find the information that will add value for prospects?
The answer could/should be your website, as well as your blog that you update consistently. Industry sources and links that provide contextual information for prospects are also very relevant. For example, when your product is helping to cut down energy consumption and earn LEED credits for your customers, it helps to keep them up to speed about the LEED options, where/how to get the credit, etc. For that, government resources and sites might be very insightful. Keep your prospects up to speed on those.
Maintain a comprehensive list of resources and develop a system to see the updates; share these with your prospects. A few ways to see/get updates are to subscribe to email updates, subscribe to RSS feeds on blogs, follow on Twitter, and keep your tabs on LinkedIn conversations and updates.
Step Four: Create a system for conversations
What does this system consist of? Two things:
One – Automation for content distribution: Examples –
Create RSS feeds for different categories of your blog. “Wire” them to your FB business page and LinkedIn page, so your blog content gets distributed to those channels automatically.
Keep valuable industry sources on your radar, and have ways to tweet about important topics automatically.
Implement social media plug-ins on your website so the content can easily be shared on networks your website visitors use.
Embed social media into your email marketing.
Careful analysis of business sales cycle and marketing objectives show opportunities for content syndication. Once that is in place, use the technology tools to automate as much as you can. You will be surprised how much of this can be automated. That is one of the advantages of social media.
Two – Consistent support to maintain social media conversations
At the end of the day, relationships develop because of consistent contact and conversations. Clearly identify people and roles to post new ideas, and engage in conversations where required. When you look at how much time you are spending traveling, how much effort you are investing in industry events, the number of emails you write with ideas and answers that are repeated over and over, how much it takes for you to generate business leads – you will see that the social media bandwidth you have to invest isn’t bad at all. Apple to apple – social media, when used right, does give you optimum bang for the buck.
This doesn’t mean you stop all sales and marketing, and get hung up only on social media. A little discipline can go a long way in getting this in your “system.”
There are so many tools that help you streamline this, as well.
If there is no gardener, there is no garden.
Step Five: Measure
Clearly define the role of your website in the marketing strategy. Use analytics to measure and understand.
Google analytics for example can show you clearly how social media is contributing in achieving desired goals. There are ways to understand prospect behavior across multiple channels – your email marketing, LinkedIn conversations, direct website visits, search engines, off-line marketing channels, etc.
See more on analytics in these blog articles –
- Web Analytics – Is my Marketing Working?
- WISE Series Part I: Business Outcomes and Website – What is a WIN for me?
- Expand Your Reach – Part Four – Use your Website
Another key part of measuring is “listening” to conversations on the social media. If you are in sales, this is your goldmine. Once you are attuned into this, you will see who to call and when and even what to talk about in conversations. Your sales system and leads generation process becomes much more intelligent when you use social media.
Plan and prepare for your social media strategy. After that proper execution will complete the circle in your business strategy.
Another post on business strategy that you might find very relevant –
Questions or Comments?