Are You Doing Social Wrong?

No matter where you look online, there are experts that are saying that, if you want to win online, you must win in social.  And the truth of it all is that they are right.  You must win at social if you want to win online.  More and more content is being digested there.  More and more people are using social as the only source of information.  Unfortunately, many of you are doing social very wrong, and risk losing what foothold you have.

How you’re doing social wrong.

The single biggest thing that most of you can’t seem to figure out is that social is, well, social.  Mostly, those of you that are playing the game as if it were traditional marketing.  It’s not. Social WrongThis isn’t newspaper, or television, or even radio.  You don’t get to just develop your marketing plan, and push your marketing out and wait for the customers to roll in.  It won’t happen.  Not only will it not work for you, but it’s very likely to convince many of the users to disengage from you altogether.

Too many of you are performing the equivalent of hit-and-run social media.  You sign in long enough to drop your promotional tweet, facebook post, or other self-serving post, then running off to go about your business.  And yet, you can’t seem to garner any real growth or conversation.

Maybe you have even gone beyond that and are trying to return some value to your customers by posting coupons and giveaways.  I’m sure that your level of interaction really jumps when you do that too.  But, if it’s dropping back down to normal levels on your other posts, you’re still doing it wrong.

How you can start doing social right.

For the love of all that is digital, start being social on social.  If you really want results, you must start the conversation.  Interact with the people you would have as consumers.  They aren’t just wallets walking around, but actual humans with human thoughts and emotions.  And, for the most part, humans are social beings.

If you’ve ever been to a large social event, you’ll have noticed that the people at the event usually fall into immediate groups.  Maybe it’s the person they met right away in the hotel lobby, or someone they know from another event.  What you won’t notice are people just walking up and introducing themselves to each other.  Sure, there’ll be one or two people that do this, but for the most part, they’ll be sitting in their small groups, or alone at their tables, not really interacting with anyone at all.

If you want to grow your network at an event like this, those are the low hanging fruit.  You can walk right over to the table, introduce yourself and ask if you can sit down.  It’s not so much different on social.  The majority of the people are not going to “walk” up to your social account and interact on a regular basis.  Instead, they’ll wait until they have a problem with your product or service and you’ll know when they start blasting you.

Truly taking advantage of social means being proactive, and reaching out to customers.  Not when they have a problem with your company (although that’s also important), but when they don’t have a problem.  When they’re the ones sitting alone at a table in social, maybe they’ve mentioned your company or a product that’s similar to yours, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.

Which doesn’t mean you immediately start blasting them with promotional talk.  An actual conversation.

Consider; You have two people who want to sell you something.  One of them is a friend, and the other is not.  Which of them is more likely to get your business?  The friend.  Why?  Because you have an existing relationship with the friend.  To some degree, you trust the friend to not sell you up the creek and to treat you right in the transaction.

I doubt that you’ll ever reach the point where a social customer is going to consider you a true friend.  But, you can build relationships that will build trust in your company and your brand that give the customer the same trust.  If that relationship exists and the customer truly can believe that you aren’t going to disappear as soon as the sale is made, you’ll earn a lot more business through social.

Building those relationships doesn’t have to take all of your time.  Unless you’re rolling out a social team for a major corporation, you maybe don’t even need a full-time employee to manage the accounts.  With the right tools, you can set up alerts to notify your social media manager of mentions of your brand, mentions of similar products, and even certain activities.  When those alerts roll in, it can mean a quick 5-10 minute run through to respond, to open up the conversation, or answer the questions.

With the right social media strategy, you can be building up relationships with customers by reaching out and having real interactions with them.  Those interactions will grow the number of people listening and can help you grow the loyalty of your customer base.  It’s only a part of the overall business equation, but as more and more people migrate to the social platforms, it’s becoming an ever increasingly important part of an overall business marketing plan.

What are you doing right on social?

Social Media Use by Law Enforcement

As if you needed any further reason to be super careful about what you say and do on any publicly viewable website (sexting is out), the EFF has released some documents that show how law enforcement and other governmental agencies are trained to use social media sites like Facebook and Google Street View to research and investigate people.  And before you get your dander up, it’s all very legal, because all of the information that they are using is publicly available.

The IRS should be commended for its detailed training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies generally limit employees to using publicly available information. The good example set by the IRS is in stark contrast to the U.S. Marshalls and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Neither organization found any documents on social networking sites in response to EFF’s request suggesting they do not have any written policies or restrictions upon the use of these websites.

So, if you’re going to do something that is possibly illegal, it’s best if you kept your mouth shut about it on social media sites.  Explaining how you exploited a loophole and “found” an extra $10,000 tax return is likely not a very good idea in the first place.  Now, we know Big Brother is watching.

Do You Have a Marketing Team?

Maki at DoshDosh had a very interesting article. He entitled it “The Blogger’s Guide to Team Marketing: Working Together for Traffic and Exposure.” At first, I have to admit that I thought he was describing what a lot of bloggers already do. We publicize our blogging friends. It’s a bit of a unwritten code. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. But then I read it a little fuller. And he may be on to something. It’s still rather informal, but it’s a tad more formal than the scratching bit.

It’s basic bones are to form a small “marketing team” of like minded bloggers in your niche.  That team then is available to others on the team to bounce ideas off of, guest posting, as well as helping with pushing each other’s content.  It’s an interesting idea.  It’s slightly more formal than the informal system that exists in the ethereal smoke of the blogosphere.  Would it work?  I’m not sure.  I think it could, but there are a couple of important factors.  The team would have to consist of equally minded bloggers.  Those bloggers would also need to be in roughly the same skill level.  A beginning blogger isn’t going to produce the same amount or quality of content as many of the veterans.  Most importantly, the team would need to have some set rules.  Rules that lay down how certain issues would be handled.  Removing or adding a new blogger to the team for instance.  There would also have to be limits of some sort as to which posts and how many posts can be submitted to the team for pushing.  Nobody wants to be spammed by the team with every post they write.  Maki suggests that each team member gets one post per week that can be pushed.

Would it be worthwhile?  Perhaps.  There are some issues (see above) as well as some locality issues (hard to push Iced Tea recipes if it’s winter) and also some issues with equality.  In the end, I think what you would end up with is a smaller version of the current scheme or an elitist group that would be blind to the forest for their trees.

There’s not much room for error and it would be a delicate balance.  Do you have a marketing team like this?  The only public examples that I can really point to would be a blog network like b5media, but that isn’t really the same.  Maybe I’m missing something and this is already a popular tool for bloggers?