Here’s the standard social media cycle: 1. Get outrageously excited about social media. 2. Rush into a social strategy headlong. 3. Lots of tweeting, facebooking, Google plussing. 4. Wonder why nothing magical seems to be happening for the business!
With over 650,000 social followers, I’m a gigantic believer in the platform. But I believe companies make two simple mistakes that results in zero business value being delivered. First is an investment mistake, the second is related to what we actually do when we participate in social media.
Let’s have some fun and create the world’s greatest social media strategy using venn diagrams.
This is a new trend amongst companies. Swept up in the fervor of Twitter, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms, they are massively shifting their resources (people, time, dineros) into their presence on these new platforms.
That is in itself is not a bad thing. Everyone knows there are a quadrillion people on Facebook. It is absolutely a valuable audience.
The bad thing is that all this seems to come at the cost of investing resources on efforts related to the company's website. So many companies have irrelevant posts by expensive employees on Facebook all day long (more on this below), and don't spent the little bit of money to create a mobile website. #arrrrrhhhhh
Remember, when you create a presence on Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo, Vkontakte, you are renting.
You don't own the domain, you don't own the customer data, you don't create/own the rules, you can't influence changes, you don't have a say in how many characters you can type or how long your video can be or how much creativity you can express. You play by their rules (after all you are just renting).
This does not make those platforms any less valuable. But it is astounding silly to have your rented presence come at the cost of a platform you own!
Build your own magnificent platform first. Where you create the rules, you control the evolution, you own the customer data, you have a direct relationship with your audience, you get to decide what happens next (or if ever!), and there are no limits to your experimentation with creativity!
Once you nail your own existence, move on to nailing your rent existence.
And going forward, always forever remember the balance between own and rent. Outsized investment in own, and an appropriate investment in rent.
It is the only way to win big.
Now that we have the optimal investment strategy, let’s go rock our social participation strategy.
Why does L'Oreal Paris USA, a multi-billion dollar corporation with a marketing budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, have just 2x the number followers than I do on Twitter?
Why is the engagement for Avis rent-a-car on Facebook 10x less than that on my brand page? Especially when they have 133k Likes and my brand page only has 30k? Remember, Avis is a corporation with thousands of employees in tons of countries.
Why does Jawbone have 455k fewer Followers on Google+ than I do?
All these companies are big and magnificent, and I'm very small and inconsequential (I’m not saying that to be humble, just think about their size/revenue/products/impact). So, why?
The answer is simple: this is their social media strategy…
They wake up every day and, on the world's greatest channels for conversations, they shout at people. Every single post they write, every single tweet they send, is simply another variation of BUY IT NOW!
The challenge is a tiny, tiny, minority of the audience is there to buy anything. (If you need more proof, just see how poorly advertising performs on these platforms.)
Just because you are good at shouting on TV/Radio/Print/Display does not imply that that is what you do on social media. Even if you somehow manage to get a bunch of Likes/Followers/+1s, your conversation rate, amplification rate and applause rate will be pathetic. [More on these metrics: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/best-social-media-metrics-conversation-amplification-applause-economic-value/]
So stop that.
These channels are awesome. Here's the strategy that works…
Pimp your stuff sometimes – say twice a week. And if you can be clever about it, like getting your customers to pimp for you, even better.
Ninety-five percent of the time create conversations and try to add value to your customers/likers/+1ers.
Write about topics both of you are interested in. If you sell smoothies, talk about food, how to develop a great palette, travel, evolution, agriculture, the future of the planet… the topics are endless.
Provide utility. Share tips on how to make my life better. Share tips on a healthy lifestyles, exercise, wellness of children, latest relevant mobile apps…. the topics are endless.
Your customers have given you permission to interrupt their day. Don't stink at it. Be respectful of their attention. Create a warm space in their heart for your brand. Contribute something incredible, of value.
That is the only way to win big.
Oh, and of course you can measure success of your social media efforts! Just measure Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate and Economic Value.
Social media provides us with an incredible opportunity to create an immense amount of business value. And now you know how. Good luck!