In my post “If You Don’t ‘Get’ Social Read This” I compared your online presence to a store, if you just have a web page up with a form that allows you to sell your product, it’s like having a store with no one in it to serve your customers. If you empower your website with Social Tools, like tweet and share buttons, you give your customer’s a way to spread the word about your products you start to create momentum. If you blog and allow commenting, you start a conversation and lay the groundwork for engagement.
People are obsessed with measuring the return, they want proof that there is value to all the “work” that goes into integrating social into their businesses. It is the effort, the strategy and the approach that each individual or company will take that will give results.
To come back to the example of a store, there is no guarantee that if you open your store tomorrow, you will be stormed with customers. Why would you expect immediate results with social?
You have to show up to see return.
If you open those doors, people will start to notice you. They will start to walk by, and say, “Hey- that store looks interesting”. They might think, “The people in there are always happy, I would like to check that out”. If you show up, day after day and create your presence, you will eventually get results. You have to show up, you have to engage, and you will see results.
Business is about return, you need to see profit, or your store will close. By getting involved with Social Media, you create a space where you can dialogue and “meet” the people in your community. You open yourself up to a new world of opportunity. One where people, in the comfort of their own homes, in their own time can gain access to you and get to know you.
People say, “It takes too much time”
What takes time is learning something new. Introduce a new process, a new product, or anything new to your organization and it will take time to learn – but you do it. Businesses need to evolve to survive. How is taking on Social Media any different?
As a professional who is using social media, I confirm that it took time to get to understand the workings of the different social platforms, and as in anything, I keep learning every day, but once the initial understanding , the foundation was in place, using social media saved time. Yes, that’s right, it is saving time, and increasing efficiency.
Among its Many Advantages, Social Media Saves Time & Increases Efficiency
How? It’s simple, and nothing new. Here is one example: If you put information in a place where everyone can access it, you save yourself the time of having to repeat the same thing over and over again on an individual basis.
For example, I use my professional blog to explain different products or situations or opportunities for my clients – things that I come across several times a day. My entire customer service staff has access to my blog, and so when a client asks them the same questions – they have a resource to learn from if they didn’t know the answer, or they can send it to clients and prospects. I share information in blog posts that explain things in great detail. In some cases, these posts explain better than the representatives would be able to on the phone. Social media is actually enhancing service and providing additional support. Suddenly, our clients have a resource that they can not only refer to to understand their questions better, but that they can interact with by posting comments, and if they like it, if the information is valuable, they can share it with friends. In many instances, I have received comments that show me that there is a need for further information, or new questions come up – I am able to answer them online, in the public eye and this provides a further resource.
Blogs are shared with clients on Facebook, via Twitter or other sites. Suddenly I am not only reaching the one person who asked the question that day but multiple people who have the same questions, and their friends. People I don’t necessarily know yet, people who seek the answers and find them with searches. Instead of being limited to talking to one person on the phone or in one email, I have just multiplied my reach and capability exponentially.
How many other ways do you think this would save you time?
Part of Business is Filling a Need
Social Media will connect you with people, it will help you understand what they are looking for, what they need. When people make comments, either positive or negative you suddenly tap into what people want, what is really going on with your company, what peoples true perceptions are. This information is valuable. Prior to social media, you would have had to run surveys and studies to get this information, calling random people, trying to find the information – Social media gives you a new resource, and if you invite your clients to be your fans or participate, you will have an opportunity to really understand what people are thinking about your brand because you have given them somewhere to talk about you, follow you and communicate. You will become more in tune with their needs and how you can serve them to keep generating business and encourage company loyalty. Isn’t that the objective of any company?
Social Media is not just for major brands.
The Major Brands are using Social Media because they recognize the value. They have the budgets to get things moving quickly. The major brands are doing this because they want to build community. They use Social Media to engage their public, to humanize themselves. Small organizations have an advantage in that they are still human. If you really think about it, it’s the smaller organization that has the greatest ability to use social media and be genuine because this is how they are already operating. Small businesses who formerly had the face to face contact with their clients have probably lost some of this as the world has gotten busier and people have less time to “stop in” and say hello. Yet the mindset of how these smaller businesses were built is still there. By exploring Social media, you are giving your fans and loyal customers a place to keep this interaction alive. You are giving yourself an opportunity to keep up with your clients and their lives – to be a part of the experience. The clients don’t have to stop by to see you, they can visit you anytime , from their homes, when they want – isn’t that part of great service?
Social Media is the Most Effective Way to Reach People and Build Relationships
Of all the marketing and branding options out there, Social media is probably the most accessible, and the most inexpensive way to reach your audience, and expand. Anyone can start a blog, join twitter, create a Facebook page or a G+ page – set up is free.
Anything that provides return will require time, the key is to be efficient. Social media is efficient.
Yes, you will have to invest some time in figuring it all out, but if you look at the investment and the possible return – it is worth it. You may start off spending 10 hours a week trying to understand – but once you are on board and set up, the time you spend needs to be viewed as the same investment of time you spend with your clients. Right now that is probably 30 hours a week. You will not spend that much time on Social Media, if you look at cost per person reached, you will soon see that it is an effective and efficient way of reaching more people with your message than if you called each one. If you spend an hour to interact with 5 clients, that same hour spent on Social Media could easily allow you to create links, content or presence that will equal service for hundreds of clients. Its worth the time.
You need to start somewhere.
- You can share your social sites with your clients, to give them resources, and help them get involved. This is value added.
- You will start to build deeper relationships, provide an opportunity for brand advocates to form and become aware of issues as people communicate with you and ask questions
- You will start to understand the needs of your clients, the wants of the market, what people like about you, what they don’t. Prior to social media, the investment to get this information was colossal. Companies had to conduct focus groups, do surveys, for example – now people will just share with you – they will just give you feedback because you’re there. All you have to do is listen and engage.
- Search engines will start to find your content and lead new prospects or people interested in your subject to you.
- Creating content will allow others to get to know you, it will give them a feel for how you think, what you can do (for them), who you are. People want to know who they do business with, you are allowing them this opportunity by putting yourself online and becoming accessible. You don’t need to take out a super bowl ad to be seen, you just need to be there, provide value, be a part of the community.
Taking Care of Business the Old Fashioned Way
Social Media takes time but it’s time well spent and an advantage that smaller organizations, independent consultants or agents, and non-profits can benefit from greatly – you don’t need to be a big brand to profit. In fact if you’re just a “little guy”, it’s likely you are connected enough with your product and service that you have that special touch to bring your brand to new levels. Take the time, it’s worth it. Revisit the way business used to be back in the old days: about relationships, getting to know people, being known for listening, being involved in community and giving people what they need. Invest in understanding the tools to get back to this kind of business, it’s worth it.
Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know what you think in the comments below. Maybe the fear of the investment of time it takes to get involved in social media is the only thing holding you back, what do you think now? Is it worth it to you?