Whether you’re a big company or a solo act, social media has become part of the marketing mix for most organizations. You might be skirting around the edges and wondering what to do. You might have a hunch that your buyers are on Facebook, or LinkedIn, or both, but how do you know? And how should you mix this in with your other marketing? Let’s cover that.
What Social Media Marketing Is Not
First, realize that social media isn’t just a new channel to stuff old marketing down. If you’re doing print in your local paper, you can’t just dump the print ad on a blog and hope that the world beats your door down. Accept that tools like blogging, social networks like Twitter, and services like YouTube aren’t the same as your mainstream efforts, but that they can play well together.
Be Human. Use a Human Voice
Before you begin, realize that the biggest difference in the ‘channel’ of social networks, blogs, and other social media tools is that you have to be much more conversational, much more participatory, much more two-way, and much less salesy. It’s the biggest lesson to learn, and the first one that will bite you upon your efforts to try out social media.
Being human means using a headshot (and no, not that glossy-looking-standing-in-front-of-the-fake-cloud-background thing, and not that cut-really-close-so-you-don’t-see-the-other-person-who-was-there thing, but something in between). People tend to put their logo up as an avatar on their social networks. Here’s a clue: we do business with humans and not logos. Want an example of a nice way to blend both? Look at Robert Scoble’s Twitter profile. That’s his Rackspace logo (company) plus his head. Score!
Human matters. Conversational tone matters. Connecting in 3 dimensions matters.
Prospecting and Lead Generation
One way that social media aids with prospecting is that you can create content for free (or cheap) that drives people toward your funnel. For instance, if you sell consulting, you can provide useful information about your subject matter that’s actionable and yet generalized enough that a smart prospect will know that they need your help to bring it home for their company.
Set up a blog, and post such material (heck, shoot a video and post it to YouTube, but embed the product at your blog), and end it with a call to action. Maybe that call is just a sign-up form to receive a free PDF document containing the next few actionable steps (plus your contact information, plus your pitch for their business).
Do you want to take advantage of some of the best lead generation around? Use webinars to build your email marketing list by offering valuable content in a presentation format. Follow up with the people who signed up for the webinar after the fact to prospect.
Listening Tools and Prospecting
One of the best new social media methods to build marketing value is to use listening tools to build your business opportunities. I tell people it’s time to grow bigger ears. By that, I mean, set up listening tools to hear new opportunities.
Here’s a simple example: If someone on Twitter is talking about visiting St. Louis, and you run a steakhouse in St. Louis, why not drop a line and see if they’d like an appetizer on the house? Just by listening to the phrase “visiting St. Louis,” you’d find more business.
The trick, and how it matches your sales and marketing methods now, is to turn any “affirmatives” into a prospect in whatever way you do this today. So, if you take phone leads, then just call this an online lead, or a lead via Twitter. It’s not that different.
Blogs and Video
If you’re looking for a great bang for the buck, blogging is a great way to put out information that might be useful to your prospective buyers, which could turn into leads and more business for you. A blog allows you to write from the buyer’s perspective. It allows you to talk about how your company is different. It allows people to read your mind insofar as how you think.
Want to really rule the world? Throw videoblogging into the mix. I recently reviewed an online course that gives away a free ebook on videoblogging, called Rapid Videoblogging. If you don’t mind getting some email marketing from that company, the free ebook is actually pretty useful and worth it.
Video converts, by the way. I showed a B2B company how to do very simple interviews with their installers, to show prospective customers the passion that the installers brought to the business. Sales most certainly went up over their old method (cold calling).
The Real Takeaway
If I said nothing more to you than this, it’d be worth your time: these new social tools are just new tools and channels to be integrated into your other marketing and sales efforts. You have to change a bit, from the old overly salesy copy of yesterday, but beyond that, the goals are the same. The drive is the same. The effort is a bit more than the past, but the yield is better, with some practice.
I’m looking forward to hearing how things turn out for you, as you get a few of these social tools into alignment with your next plans for business.
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at [chrisbrogan.com].