Category Archives: social marketing

Don’t Let the Social Media Treadmill Run You Over

I was at the gym this morning running on the tread mill.  Since I’ve been doing a lot of weight training recently, I now have extra strength in my leg muscles that makes running much easier.  I quickly found myself running at the front of the treadmill, as if my feet were gripping the tread and pulling it back.  This is much different than the way I had been running, in the middle of the treadmill, touching the tread as it ran under me.  I then experimented with running at the back of the treadmill – which felt like trying to catch up.  Sometimes, it can even be a little scary because it feels like you might fall off.

The funny thing is, in all three instances I was actually running at the same speed.  But the difference of my mental state between being at the front, center or back was significant.  These three positions serve as a good metaphor for how you define you or your organization’s relationship to social media.  Let’s look at all three:

CENTER

Running at the center of the treadmill is a reactive position.  You are basically letting the treadmill run you.  Something happens, you respond.  It’s the position of being the follower or the fan.  It’s the marketer who says, “Yeah, we got that facebook thing covered.  We’ll post our PR and discounts there as well”.  Or it’s the impulse to use idea from a competitor instead of finding a unique application of social media for your organization.  When you run your social media marketing campaign in a reactive way, you aren’t taking full advantage of the medium.  You’re watching the road go by.  You might not fall behind, but you’re not going to get ahead.  If you approach social media with this attitude, you won’t gain any advantage from it that your competitors don’t have as well.

BACK

We’ve all been here at some point in our lives, just trying to keep up with things.  This is the organization who might have a facebook page, but hasn’t updated it in months, or updates it as an after thought.  If you or your organization is behind on embracing and using social media, the only thing you can do to recover is to make it a priority.  The further you fall behind, the harder it will be to get something going.  The effort required is actually less than you imagine.  The most difficult part is changing your “we’re behind” mental state.  Yet it’s that mental state that prevents you from exerting the effort to get on top of it.  Just as having a company website is just now part of the regular cost of doing business, so is having a social media presence.  If you don’t, your business will slowly decline and you’ll fall off the treadmill.

FRONT

The amount of energy it takes to run at the front is actually the same as the center or the back.  Marketing work is marketing work. The only difference is that someone at the front took a few moments to accelerate their speed to get there.  Taking some time to get up to speed with social media tools and strategize how to use them is the most critical thing you can do.  Marketing is about creating buzz and social media tools enable marketers to innovate.  You can create new buzz in a whole new way!  When you take the lead position, you are instigating the social media cycle.  You aren’t just responding, you are contributing the media stream.  You build followers and fans.  And once you are innovating, it gets easier to keep innovating, because you will be buoyed by the responses to your work.

Remember, it’s not about how fast you are running – every marketer feels like they are running.  It’s about where you run.  If you aren’t running at the front, you’re letting the treadmill run you.  And if you let that go long enough, the social media treadmill will run you over.

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Tip #5: Respond to Feedback

Social media also has a built in feedback mechanism, such as comments, ratings, forwarding links, etc.  As soon as you post, your fans and followers will be able to respond in real time.  Embrace this dialogue.  The more your customers talk about your product, the more exposure your product will receive.  And most importantly, join in the dialogue by responding to their feedback.  You don’t have to respond to everything, people don’t expect that.  Think of it like one of those entertainment shows where they pick someone out of the audience to come up on stage.  That person becomes a respresentative of the audience, it’s as if we are all up on stage with that person.  We feel included in the show.  So rather than be overwhelmed with having to repsond to everyone, just pick one or two people and respond to them.  When people see the product owner engaging with their audience, even if it’s not them personally, they will feel more loyalty to the product.

This is true even if people have negative feedback.  There’s nothing worse then sending a customer service email and never getting it retruned.  People complain because they need to be heard and they want things fixed.  For example, I had been having a battery problem with my apple laptop for months and was extremely frustrated.  But the computer was still under warranty and so I went into the genius bar.  They replaced with battery and external power supply cord.  That totally covered the cost of my warranty and all my frustration was gone.  If you listen, respond and do your best to help them out, your customers will continue to stay invested with your product.  People pay for service as much as they do their product.

So what’s the best way to respond?  Agree with them.  It’s an old trick I learned studying improvisational acting called, “Yes, and”.  Things move forward if you agree, stop if you disagree.  So agree with your customers and ad something.  For example, if a customer posts, “Loved seeing those photos of those muffins being baked” you might respond “Glad you liked them – maybe we’ll print them in edible inks as well.”  In my response, I agreed with them and added some humor, which is a great way to also keep things real and personal.  If they send a complaint, such as, “Hey, you’re sending me too many posts.  Stop it!” you might reply, “Yes, we sent to many posts.  We are sorry and are working on reducing our frequency.”  You may not be able to solve the problem right away, but by quickly responding you acknowledge that you heard your customer, are aware and are taking action.  If you are posting publically, this will also be seen by your other customers which can reduce the amount of negative posts as well.

Don’t Lose the “Social” in Social Marketing

With the rapid rise of corporate marketing on Facebook and Twitter, I am seeing an increase in traditional marketing.  I’m referring to posts about free giveaways, discount codes, press annoucements, etc.  Using these techniques are certainly valid, but they aren’t taking full advantage of new social aspects of the platform.  Marketers are often approaching these interactive mediums with the same broadcast mentality.  “I have  X number of followers/fans that received this message.”  Now one advantage with the Internet is you can track your clicks, etc. so you can measure your ROI more closely, unlike radio or tv.  But what makes social media different isn’t the click tracking or the network effects of re-tweeting – it’s the whole “social” mind set.

What people love about Facebook is that they can share their lives with friends – photos, status updates, etc.  Twitter started out the same way, with posts like “I just got out of bed…where’s the coffee?”  You can understand with posts like that, how the average busy adult might dismiss Twitter.  Who has time to keep track of their fifty closest friends caffeine intake?  And yet at the same time, what people love about social media is exactly that – the little trivialities of daily life that keep you connected to friends and family.  And it’s this same love that also has people already decrying the loss of authenticity and the rise of corporatism in social media.

If you are a marketer, you need to avoid alienating your audience when you enter the social media space.  You need to conceive of your marketing strategy with a social mindset.  Your plans needs to make a unique social connection with your audience that also leverages the power of social media for your business.  Don’t just broadcast announcements and deals with the hope that people will read them.  At the same time, be wary of trying to hard to be authentic.  People can easily detect phony attempts at seeming real.  If you were the CEO of Chevron or Shell and you posted, “Bought a solar powered calculator, made me feel good to conserve” I think people would see right through the PR department’s closely managed plan.

So, from an organizational stand point, this brings up a lot of questions.  How do you leverage the social qualities of your organization to create a unique interactive message?  How do you develop an authentic voice for the organization that socializes with your audience?  How do you allocate resources on social interaction that provide a real impact on your business?

That’s what I will be addressing next week.  Each day next week, I will post a different tactic about how you can develop a social mindset for your organization as your develop your social marketing strategy.