I shouldn't have to tell you, since you are smart enough to be on this site, that a business that isn't utilizing social media is a business that is doomed. The problem is not that businesses aren't getting on board the bus. The problem is most can't find a good seat and don't even know where the bus is going.
A recent article by social media guru Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of the fast-growing Likeable franchise, highlighted five things that businesses need to do better in social media.
Forgive me for being forward, but I would like to tell you the 5 things that your business really stinks at when it comes to the new way of marketing.
1. You talk way too much.
You know that person you can't stand to be around because all they do is talk about themselves? That's your business on social media. Sorry, it's true. No one cares if you have a new product line. Really.
The good news is that this is a problem you can fix, and it's not that hard. First, look at others' posts that get tons of likes and shares. What kind of posts are they? More than likely, they are the types listed here.
Second, use the old golden rule of sales: the person asking the questions is the one in charge of the conversation. Ask questions and listen. Repeat. Repeat. Then answer. Then ask again.
2. You use it when you feel like it.
Social media is not a game, and it's not an option for a business. Not only is it absolutely imperative that you leverage the most powerful marketing platform on the planet, you have to do it like it's part of your job - because it is.
If you decide to open your doors to the public when you feel like it, your customer base will be non-existent. If you use social sites when you feel like it, your results will be the same. Regular, daily engagement is the only solution.
3. You don't know which social media sites to use.
Your target audience is not necessarily the same as company X. Each social site has it's own strengths and weaknesses, and you have to figure out which ones your potential customers are likely to frequent.
For example, if you offer something that can be visually marketed (particularly to women, but certainly not exclusively) and you aren't wearing your computer screen out on Pinterest, you are probably missing over half of your potential audience.
4. You're hoping instead of measuring.
Anytime you are making a purchase that requires paperwork or anything more than a shelf and a cash register, you will likely be asked "how did you hear about us?" Why? Because a business needs to know their ROI. Does radio work for you? Newspaper ads? Television? What exactly is bringing people to you, or not?
The best way to measure your ROI with social media is to use a solid piece of social media management software for analytics. These dashboards will give you real-time feedback and let you know in great detail which of your posts or activities are effective and which aren't.
5. You're not using Google+.
The most underrated and disregarded social media site is Google+. Ironically, for those of us who can see the big picture (like Dave Llorens points out), it will ultimately be the most influential and far reaching of all social sites.
Llorens article is a must-read, and he explains why G+ will win in the end. The condensed version is this: it's Google. As popular as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or others may be, they simply don't have the infrastructure that Google does, and the boys in Mountain View are playing the long game.
Google has slowly been integrating all of their vast services into G+. Maps, voice, gmail, advertising, reviews, you tube, etc., etc., etc. And of course we can't forget the backbone of the internet - search - which they completely own and dominate. When was the last time you used Yahoo or (God forbid) Bing to search for something? Yeah, me neither.