"Why can't we just skip the social media strategy stuff and create some buzz for this amazing offer we have?" I can't count the number of times I have been asked this question by clients, students of our social media workshops, attendees at events where I speak, loyal blog readers & even neighbors!
Even though I know you want to hear me answer "yes," to this question, I can't. When I hear you ask this question, what I really hear is "we don't want to invest in a real strategy or bother with executing a plan that will bring results. We want to instead execute tactics and random acts of marketing because we think they deliver instant results."
Stop the Random Acts of Marketing!
Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) will destruct your ROI morsel by morsel, post by post. There is no way around it. RAMs may deliver instant gratification as you can cross tactics off your list as completed. However, they will not provide real business results that will help you sustain your business for the medium or long term.
Be very careful when prioritizing based upon instant gratification versus investing in social media strategies and tactics that drive real results. Far too many business leaders confuse random acts of social media and buzz with social business success.
Focusing only on creating buzz for your brand using social media will not help you nurture relationships, nor grow your business. Plus chances are if you are just starting out with social media you have nobody listening to your self proclaimed "awesome buzz" as you haven't invested the time or resource to build community.
Community does not happen overnight. Winning the hearts of real people eager to listen to your messages, hear your brand stories, read your posts, and share your photos takes investment. Loyal brand evangelists and engaged community members are earned over time, not purchased over night.
Who Is Listening to Your Brand?
Who is on the other end of your yelling, noisy, screaming offers of sales & bargains? Do you know who is listening on the other end? Is anyone listening?
One of the first steps in creating a social media strategy for business is to understand your audience. You simply can not skip this step no matter how smart you are. It doesn't matter how long you have been doing business, marketing, writing, social media or whatever it is you do.
Think about this for a minute...
Social media is about people.
Social media is about content.
Social media is about conversations.
Social media is about relationships.
Social media starts with people. How can you be successful in social media if you don't know WHO it is you want to have a conversation with so you can nurture a relationship? How will you know what content you should write, tweet, post, pin and +1 on Google if you don't know who you are writing for?
How can you optimize your blog, website and social media profiles for search if you don't know who is searching and what words they are using. You must know what they want, how they want it and how they communicate about it to be relevant in their hearts and minds.
Who is your audience? How old are they? Do they have kids? Grandkids? Where do they live? Why do they live there? What brands do they like? Why do they like those brands? Why should they like your brand or care it exists?
Telling me you want to only create buzz, get right to tactics without a strategy is like telling me you want to go fishing without a boat or a fishing rod. Yes, you can fish on the side of the lake, but being married to a man who LOVES to fish, I can tell you he much prefers and usually catches better fish being in his boat in the gulf of Mexico or right smack dab in the middle of the lake.
Communities Create Markets:
I recently wrote this post about how communities create markets. In the graphic below you will see that the only way you can move your social communities filled with real human beings from the left side to the right side is if you know who they are.
You can't move them to a loyal, paying customer and evangelist by shouting buzz and sales at them all day on Twitter and Facebook. You need to invest time in them, help them achieve their goals, help them solve problems, inspire them to do better, be better and live their life with empowerment. You can't do any of these things if you don't know who they are. There is simply no way around it.
Don't Start With Tactics!
Download this Audience Analysis Worksheet to help you prioritize and analyze your audience. It is based upon the Forrester POST methodology and will guide you through a series of questions that will help you segment and know your audience better.
The biggest mistake business leaders make when developing and executing their social media strategy is to start with the tactics and technology first before they know who their audience is.
You must know who your audience is, who you are and how you can help them solve problems. It's only after you have this foundational knowledge that you can determine your social strategy and approach for building your social media plan.
The tactics and technology come last. Setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account is the easy part. It's free and only takes a few minutes. It's leveraging them with tact, smarts, and in an integrated approach focused on your audience and business goals as a top priority that will bring results.
There is no social media easy button. You must take time to research, listen, and understand your audience. A good social strategist often listens far more hours in a day than they do talk or spam social profiles. If you aren't paying attention to who your audience is, what they are saying, how they are engaging and trying to understand deeply what exactly it is they need from you, I recommend you start today.
The heartbeat of social media is people. You can never go wrong by investing in human beings. Don't waste another day on Twitter spamming, blasting noise. Make a commitment to be part of the beating heartbeat that helps the social ecosystem thrive with value, empowerment, relationships and more.
Your goal each day should be to inspire your audiences to connect with you with a goal of helping them achieve their goals. When you help them achieve their goals, you achieve yours by default. Inspire - Connect Achieve! Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. Got it?