Just a quick post about what is becoming an over-reliance by business owners to use Twitter and Facebook as the exclusive means for building awareness or for promoting their products or services.
Don't get me wrong, both Twitter and Facebook may have a place in your overall marketing strategy, but that's just the point–you need to have a some semblance of a marketing strategy to determine what social media tools will be useful in that strategy and which ones will not.
A media strategy need not be overly complicated. These are the three fundamental elements:
- You need a core presence online. A core presence where you sell your stuff or establish what it is you do. This is either a website or blog or some primary online space where you are responsible for the branding and the content. This is your home base and the place that you want folks to visit and take some action. Action includes things like buying a product, subscribing to an email list, becoming a member or accepting whatever call to action you've determined is important to move your business forward. A Twitter or Facebook profile might be enough, but it's much better if you own the look, feel, design and interface of your core presence.
- You need an understanding of your target audience and where they spend time online (and offline). Who are you marketing to and what are their needs? What questions is your target audience searching for the answers to via search engines or community participation? Who or what are the factors that most influence whether your target audience decides to choose a product or a service and how can you become associated with or become a similar influence? How can you develop a connections and relationships with your target audience so that when they're ready to act, you come immediately to mind? While your tweeting away and posting updates about your day or sharing funny anecdotes in your profile, your competition is posting industry information or helpful tips and information from their core online presence all while directing traffic to their site and building additional credibility with people who will view them as the go-to expert on your topic.
- You need to know how to convert attention into action. If you have a core presence and you're using content from that source in addition sharing resources, tips and other helpful information with your audience, you're probably starting to see an increase in the number of people that are visiting your site or reaching out to you to connect on numerous social networks. This is great but numbers don't mean anything if they don't convert into meaningful action. What is it that you want people to do once you've captured their attention and they've come looking to you for more information? If you simply want attention, provide a means for them to become a follower or subscriber so that you can keep them informed of what you're doing and continue building credibility and expertise. If you want them to make a purchase, offer the option via a checkout process that is reaffirmed by testimonials or other social proof to validate and justify their choice.
At the very least, have a method to continue to follow-up with interested persons who probably won't take the ultimate action right away but who have expressed an interest in learning more–these people are what Twitter and Facebook are really about as they become potential customers and advocates of what you provide for their friends, and their friends friends, etc. Without a core presence, an understanding of your target audience, and a call to action, your tweets and updates might be interesting but they won't be productive.