There are three critical success factors business owners should think about when considering investing in social media marketing. I presented these at the Los Angeles Vistage All City Conference this week, in two panel sessions called Social Media – What Business Owners Need to Know.
1. Be Strategic
Before you start Tweeting (!) or sending other messages out to your followers, friends, connections, fans and customers, write your company’s marketing persona. Your marketing persona is not you, it’s not Susie in Customer Service, and it’s not Joe in Sales. It is the story of how your company and your brand want to be seen and heard and remembered in the world.
An important part of the marketing persona is understanding your buyers. So you should also write buyer personas for each customer segment you serve. The buyer persona is the story of each type of buyer, who they are, what a day in their life is like, what they like and dislike, and what they need (even if they don’t know they need it). Marketing buyer personas work really well – see my previous blog post, Why B2B Marketing Buyer Personas Rule, for more on why they work so well.
Then, knowing who you are and who “they” are, you can go forth and successfully engage your prospects with your messaging. One more comment about strategy – do you know where your prospects are? Don’t assume they are or aren’t on any particular social media platform. Survey them and ask. The results will help you determine where to spend your social media time and money.
2. SMO is the new SEO
For those of you spending money on SEO today, I’d much rather see you spend your time and money on creating great online content for your prospects. Why? Because Social Media Optimization is the new Search Engine Optimization. Don’t get me wrong – organic search engine tactics are still valid, but online conversations and content about your products and services that drive traffic to your website really get the attention of the search engines today. Great content that adds value for your prospects and customers creates goodwill.
If you do spend on SEO, there is a big chance that you are getting ripped off. (Note, this is a Jen Beever soapbox moment.) The SEO industry is full of snake oil (see my previous post SEO Industry Has Some Snake Oil, But Also Success). As other industries have gone into decline, enterprising entrepreneurs and web developers saw an opportunity to make money quickly in SEO. They count on the fact that most business owners don’t understand technology and don’t know how to check for SEO activity and results. So, if you are paying for SEO for your website, consider getting an SEO audit. I did one for a client and charged them for two hours of my time. They paid me hundreds, and what I found (and didn’t find) saved them thousands.
3. Leverage Technology
How do you get all of this social media content and messaging done? In addition to your strategy, you need to leverage technology. There are great tools that help you populate social media platforms automatically when you publish a message or blog entry. There are aggregators that filter and display information and news so you can quickly review and share other people’s content. Most messaging utilities such as blogging platforms and social media messaging dashboards allow you to create content ahead of time and schedule its publication over time.
These “three things” were certainly not the only topics covered by the panel. I was in the company of other social media experts – Julie Kreisler of TKG Marketing, HR Consultant Richard Rossignol with RTR Consulting, Labor and Employment Attorney Karl Schmidt of Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara & Samuelian and our moderator, attorney and blogger on Sheppard Mullin’s Social Media Law Update blog, Michelle Sherman, all of whom provided many take-aways, including the importance of setting up social media guidelines and policies, the benefits of using social media for customer service, and more.
A great strategy, an understanding that content boosts your visibility, and the ability to leverage technology will help you succeed in your social media campaign. Do you agree with my three points? Disagree? Please comment.