This morning I spoke on a social media panel at the 914 Inc. Westchester Magazine Business Breakfast and Social Media Discussion. Here are some of the questions we discussed and some of my business insights on the recent Facebook changes, social media for your business today and more! Thank you to Dave Donelson for a great job moderating the panel discussion, as well as all of the other panelists.
Why is social media important to businesses?
Social media is important to businesses because people are talking about your business. It is better to have a voice and opinion then to ignore what people are saying about your company altogether. Social media is important to business because it is an integral part of business; especially how any new business in the current economy can function and market itself cost effectively today.
How does it differ from other forms of promotion?
Social media differs from other forms of promotion in that it is, in essence, not supposed to be promotional. Social media is truly brand building. The issue is that people today don’t realize just how important brand building is for their business, and instead think forms of direct marketing or advertising is more powerful then other types of promotion. Social media is equally as important.
Social media marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it does not focus on immediately establishing the value of your services or products, but rather it is about establishing you as an icon and thought leader in the industry- to create an awareness of your name and brand. It is not a specific advertisement for a given product or service- it is about brand engagement.
How much time and money does it take?
Social media is not free. On average, it takes anywhere between 25-40 hours per month to integrate your social media and public relations campaign. The two should work hand in hand. Social Media is an extension of corporate branding. As a client, you are paying for the ability to utilize modern electronic techniques to get in front of a targeted audience. Social media is not an advertisement and it is not a banner ad. Social media is inherently about branding to a focused audience. It is about the ability to quickly get in front of prospects, current clients and leads, and to establish an online relationship with them and build customer engagement. The type of results you should be looking to expect is similar to what you would expect from a long term branding campaign. Social media marketing is essentially a global awareness and branding campaign that takes time to develop.
How do you know if you’re getting any results?
You know if you are getting results based on community awareness of your brand, an increase in press mentions, an increase in brand identity (positive brand identity), or an increase in new leads.
What’s the most important factor in success with social media?
The most important factor to be successful in social media is to have clients who are willing to make the commitment to work with you on content creation. If you are going to represent someone online (similar to how a Hollywood agent represents an actor) then the agent needs to be in fairly frequent communication with that actor. The same is true for social media. In order to truly represent what your clients are doing in real time, you need to be in frequent contact with them so what you are posting about their lives represents what they are actually doing. If you have a client that is impossible to get in touch with or only wants you to make up stories about what they could potentially doing, the campaign will never truly be a success.
What is the one thing you should never do in social media?
The one thing you should never do in social media is to be too promotional, and yet we are all (myself included) guilty of it. Once you have committed this crime, it is best to disappear off the Facebook radar for a little while so you redeem yourself, or you can try 30 days of positive posting and make sure NONE of your posts include the words “Me” or “I” in them and are only informational, sharing posts that have nothing to do with you, your clients, or your company.
Any media, social or otherwise, needs an audience. How do you get one in social media?
You get an audience by branding yourself as an opinion leader and expert in your field. Take your knowledge that you have in a specific niche market and start sharing it with friends and family to begin building the audience. If they like what you have to say, they will then start sharing your posts with THEIR friends and family, and it can eventually lead to you developing your own unique audience.
Given the limited audiences of most social media, how does a business justify it?
I disagree with the premise of the question. According to recent statistics, Facebook has 800+ users and Google+ has 43 million users. Definitely not a “limited” audience.
If you have to prioritize, which social media should come first?
1. Social Media Strategy should always come first (so to answer the question, the first social media to come first is NOT social media, it is traditional marketing/PR laid out in MS Word!)
2. Once you have chosen the appropriate channels for your strategy and business goals, you can then choose which networks work for your company accordingly
What’s the newest, greatest thing in social media?
- The new Facebook Timeline will revolutionize your Facebook experience, but it also has the potential to drudge up everything from your entire Facebook history (from 5+ years ago that you thought was gone forever)
- On Sept 30th, everyone’s Facebook profile will go through a drastic change and everyone will have the Facebook Timeline. This change will be mandatory.
“Rather than just displaying your most recent activities, your profile will become a scrapbook documenting your entire life, all the way back to your birth. Facebook will become a record of your existence: All your memories, your victories and your defeats, your loves, your losses and everything in between. You’ll be shocked, as I was, when this change is made. Suddenly your life is laid out before you, the highs and lows somehow pinpointed by Facebook’s algorithms.” Pete Cashmore, CNN “You’ll Freak When You See the New Facebook”
- Users will have more control over what shows up on their newsfeed. You can unsubscribe from people’s updates as opposed to de-friending. Additionally, you can control how much of what you see from their updates
- Hulu and Spotify are now integrated directly into Facebook. You can actually watch and play music directly from Facebook. Additionally, you can share what you’re listening to and comment directly on what other people are listening/watching as well.
- You don’t have to just “Like” something anymore; you’ll be able to use any verb through “Facebook Gestures.” I wonder if this will change the premise of “Liking” a fan page and how this will impact business fan pages?