Many of my newer clients or those that attend educational sessions in which I am a speaker often talk to me about some concerns they have about social media. Some of them are not sure where to start, several wonder which social media venues are right for them, and others question whether they should have a presence in social media at all. All these questions are valid, and they all boil down to one single element with which we are all familiar: fear. We fear what we do not yet know. We fear making mistakes. We fear the prospect of looking like a dope in public.
Based on the dozens of discussions I’ve had with accomplished and promising social media managers, I’ve collected a list of items native to social media campaigns that should not be feared.
The Negative Customer
This is the guy who loves to gripe. He is the constant jeer. He complains incessantly for all to hear. He can transform a mood from pleasant to pissed in less than 5 seconds. Many companies avoid him like a spoonful of Robitussin, a necessary confrontation, or a 30-minute cardio workout. Here are three reasons why the negative customer is good for your business:
1. He’s Honest : When a customer complaint happens online, please do not fret. At least now you know. Complaints empower you to gain visibility to the pieces of your business that are most important – the same ones that are closest to your customer. The negative customer will tell you what is wrong in public so in turn you can fix it in public. Sure, we all want to adorn our walls with pretty pictures and beautiful photographs, but mirrors are important too.
2. He’s Often Misinformed : Sometimes the negative customer is just plain wrong. There may be few or many misconceptions about your business practices or individuals within your organization. A carefully worded response to a negative review can help to set the record straight for the malcontent and potentially many others who didn’t know the whole truth either. Use caution, however, as you do not want a response to a negative customer to ignite a flame war. Sometimes the best course of action is to take the conversation offline. Crazy people are everywhere, but they run rampant on the interwebs.
3. He’s Not Always Popular : When I worked at Off Madison Ave, we had a client that was opening a new public venue. There were some unforeseen construction delays which forced us to push back the opening, and many customers started voicing their displeasure. Before we could respond, several other customers did so on our behalf. For every complainer, there were at least three “defender” customers. Soon enough the argument was squelched by the populace. We sat back, watched and smiled.
If you have been active in the marketing industry for some time, just keep doing what you have been. We are still working to generate awareness. We are still acquiring new prospects. We are still encouraging loyalty amongst our best customers. Stay the course. Social media is merely a cog in the marketing machine. Our goals are the same. Only the tools are different.
Please don’t get hung up on social media tactical devices. Anyone can learn them, and I promise they are not too complicated. If you would like to learn more about popular social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, read these free social media tutorials. Don’t get too attached, however, as the tools are guaranteed to change. You know Google and Yahoo, but do you remember Alta Vista, Lycos and Looksmart?
Low Fan/Follower Counts
The success of your social media campaign should not be judged by the quantity of its audience. Rather, gauge success on the quality of interactions with the connections you have. I would rather have 100 engaged fans from whom I can learn and derive important reactions over 1,000 passive followers.
Do not stress if your connection numbers are low. Continue to provide meaningful, engaging content that can be easily shared. Fans are sure to follow soon enough.
While the items above should not cause you too much stress, there are some social media campaign elements that require constant attention. Here you will find a few questions that you should ask yourself and those within your organization if you plan to build or grow an ongoing social media campaign.
What Will We Say?
Develop a flexible editorial calendar. Call on all those within your organization capable of sharing knowledge your audience would find entertaining, enlightening and informative. Monitor conversations in social media as they offen provide fodder for your own content. Need more ideas? Check out this post from budding social media superstar, Daniel Klotz.
Who Will Say It?
Determine who within your organization will own your social media program. While your executive team should have input on message and strategy, a social media manager (maybe that’s you) should be identified and empowered to engage with the audience in social media. Whomever it selected, ensure that person has the knowledge, resources and passion to make a positive impact (then again, those qualities can apply to any position).
How Much Will This Cost?
The greatest fallacy about social media is that it is free. Time is money and a solid social media program requires plenty of it. Budget resources accordingly. Perhaps you start by committing 10 hours per week. In time that investment grows to 20 hours and eventually a full time person. If your business and industry is conducive to social media conversations, plan to assign man power to it soon.
What Does Success Look Like?
The provision meaningful metrics is social media’s sticky wicket. If your goals are not clear and realistic from the start, your measurement problem can get more complicated as time goes on. Determine now what you want to accomplish with your program. Awareness? Loyalty? Market research? No matter your goals, use multiple measures for traffic, influence, reach, etc.
What else concerns you regarding your social media campaign(s)?