Perhaps it's to be expected that as the tidal wave of social media has hit the shores of the business and marketing world, there have been and continue to be a lot of mistakes in execution. And this is, at least partly, a good thing. Even experienced, technologically savvy business owners and marketers need the freedom to explore new trends and learn from failures.
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But there is a right way and wrong way to thinking about social media efforts. The right way succeeds more than it fails, but even more importantly, it is designed to learn from failures. The successful approach can be summed up as the "two-step mindset." If you are not training yourself in this technique, you can know all the latest social media trends and your marketing efforts will still be seriously under performing.
Let's take a slightly roundabout way to getting at this concept. Then we'll take a look at some practical steps you can take to implement this mindset into your business.
First, let's look at what could be called the "no-step" approach to social media marketing. This means you understand and are good at social media engagement, but you have no overarching strategy for how it is going to lead to more business. The big, successful players in social media are constantly asking themselves what is their purpose for each social media tool they use. In other words, what action do they ultimately want their followers and customers to take?
However, this can lead to the other mistake, what might be called the "one-step" approach. This is taking the old advertising methods and using the new channels of social media to bombard customers with 'buy now' messages. In other words, asking your customers to take the ultimate action in one step, before a groundwork of trust and engagement has been established.
The solution is the 'two-step' mindset. Step one should be always thought of as engagement and building trust. Engagement is great, but it needs to be thought of as the first step on the journey to another destination. Savvy marketers know that step one is virtually worthless unless you have a strategy for converting that engagement.
Step two is that action you want them to take. This action can vary according to your marketing needs. Many times it is getting the sale. (And, contrary to what you sometimes hear, it is okay to ask for the sale through social media channels). But it can also be getting your content shared, increasing followers or 'Likes', etc.
The overarching point is to have specific, well-defined goals for each step and know why you are taking each action. This way, if you fall short of your objectives, that is just data to help you improve, not a random failure from which you learn nothing.
Perhaps you're nodding your head and agreeing with the two-step mindset, agreeing in principle with the idea. However, you need concrete ideas and real-life examples of how to execute it in your own social media efforts. Here are three practical actions:
1. Pinterest. This is one of the hottest trends in social media and is truly generating some serious traffic and exposure for many businesses. Recent statistics show that its users are among the most engaged on the web: the average user is spending almost 100 minutes per month on the site. If you are not on Pinterest yet, go to their website and request an invitation. (yes, technically you have to be 'invited' to join, but they don't seem to turn anyone down). Once you explore Pinterest and understand the basics, consider holding a contest for your followers.
To put it in terms of the two-step approach, the contest is the first step. Ask your followers to 'pin' some visual content using or interacting with your brand in a fresh, exciting way or demonstrating what they love about your product or service. They can enter the contest by creating a pinboard under their own account and then linking it to your pinboard. Give out prizes for the top three and announce the winners across all your social media platforms. That step is where many ordinary marketers would leave it.
But, now imagine taking a second step by sending out all entrants a thank you deal especially for them. You would be taking the engagement and positive feelings and translating it into a nice offer for your loyal brand champions while also increasing your sales.
2. Mobile Stores and Social Media Sharing. If you have a mobile store featuring your product or services, you can think in broader terms than simply immediate sales. (And if you don't have a mobile store yet, you should probably have that on the 'to-do' list).
In this case, step one is a sale AND a social media opportunity. When someone makes a purchase via your mobile store, in their confirmation email send them a message something like this: "Share the purchase you just made with your social media friends and we'll send you a coupon code for XX% off your next purchase through our mobile store." Or you could offer them a small free gift as they are checking out if they share it right then.
Any number of ideas could be effective. The point is to see every interaction as a potential step on the path to more sales and profits.
3. SMS Messages. Many businesses that build SMS message lists get tunnel vision and only think about sending out offers or announcements directly related to their own product or service. A good approach is to supplement those type of messages with others. For instance, send out links to high-quality content that your SMS followers would likely appreciate knowing.
How does this fall into the two-step concept? If all your subscribers ever get from you is offer after offer, self-promotion after self-promotion, some of them are going to get turned off and tune out. When you send out a variety of messages, being sure to sometimes send out valuable information to your list for free, it creates the trust and engagement that allow your promotional messages to be heard and trusted.
Those are just three, relatively simple ideas. Once you begin to grasp the power of the two-step mindset, you begin to see the terrific potential of social media and it begins to perform up to and even exceed your expectations.