As much as it frustrates me that I am still, in 2013, having to convince people that social media is a thing, I accept that there are still a large number of people that don’t see how it is relevant to their business. There are many reasons for this, but often it is to do with the fact that they are in industries that are, for lack of a better word, unsexy.
One of the biggest objections I hear when trying to sell social media consulting, is that a social media strategy is something reserved only for the ‘sexy’ consumer brands. They are worried about which channel, which content, what they are going to say, before they even consider a strategy. They get that social media is a big deal, but don’t see how they can contribute. They worry about the content that they are going to produce. They worry about opening themselves up for comment and how they are going to deal with it. They don’t see the point in having a Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest account, and if I am honest, in many instances, they’re right.
These are all valid concerns. However, it is a little misguided, and… premature.
From a content perspective, of course consumer and lifestyle brands are sexier. It is so much easier to sell fashion, or soft drink, or party hire, or professional services. It is easier to create shareable content, and yes, people tend to engage with these brands more.
But these all come later. These are tactics, not strategy.
At the core of this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what a social media strategy actually is: more than just a marketing campaign. It is a common and understandable belief, given that ad agencies, recruiters, web companies — many are guilty of perpetuating the view that a social media strategy is only about the implementation: setting up a Facebook Page, creating that cute YouTube video, the content, the “buzz”.
Marketing is just one component of a social media (or digital) strategy.
When you go through the process of strategic planning, first, you listen. You research. You define your objectives. You consider all of the options. You look at your resources. You monitor. Then, and only then, you decide what you are going to do.
And you know what?
- Sometimes, the strategy is to just listen and monitor.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to just listen and monitor and improve quietly.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to just listen and monitor and respond privately.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to listen, monitor, and respond publicly.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to listen, monitor, respond and create engaging content.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to listen, monitor, create, engage, market, build a community, go ‘viral’.
- Sometimes, the strategy is to listen, monitor, build relationships, generate leads.
There are many potential tactical outcomes from a social media strategy that do not involve the creation of content and engagement. That is one component. Assuming you have followed the right process, that considers everything from your goals to your market, to legal and ethical considerations, risk and your capacity, the implementation for your business will vary.
You might not have a plan to do social media marketing, but you still have to have a strategy, because, whether you are sexy or not, whether you like it or not, people are having conversations about your business, your competitors, your industry. Your employees are using social media, as are some or all of your competitors.
A big portion of Martin’s professional network are in the waste management industry, so we do have some experience with the knee-jerk reluctance to engage on social media, because they think they don’t belong, or don’t know what to post. But, I point you to this Facebook post, that appeared in my feed a few months ago:
Check it out. 85 Shares. The businesses involved were named. There was a discussion that occurred with nobody from the industry to comment. And, according to the original poster, when she did post this on the company’s Facebook page, they deleted it with no response.
For the company, their poor handling of the feedback was a missed opportunity to improve and respond. For their competitors, it was a missed opportunity to win a new client. No company had to have a substantial Facebook presence, or share photos or articles to have made an impact. But, when nobody listened, this was one of thousands of missed opportunities in an unsexy industry that happens every day.
A skip bin company who had a strategy, would be set up to respond however they saw fit to this discussion, if they knew that it was happening. They could have taken a new customer away from a competitor, who chose to delete and ignore rather than repair. This didn’t have to be done in public: it could have been as simple as getting in contact with her behind the scenes.
Having a social media strategy is not simply about thinking up creative marketing campaigns and getting people to Like your page: that is just one component, and yes, of course it is the most fun (and the part that most Agencies sell at the expense of the bigger picture), but it should come after the strategic planning is complete.
Everyone should have a plan for social: sexy or not, because it impacts your business daily. At a minimum you should have listening and monitoring, and a social media policy for staff in place. How you then implement, depends on your individual business goals and capacity. But to ignore it purely because you don’t know what you are going to post, or because you think you don’t belong, is costing you customers.
So, multinational sexy fashion brand, Accounting firm or liquid human waste, if you don’t have a social media strategy in place — get one. Now. So then I can be back in my happy place, not convincing you why, but helping you to rock it. 🙂
Of course, we can help with that, so get in touch.