Social Media is being About... Being Social9 Jan, 2012 By: Corey Smith, Dealer Marketing Systems imageSource
The other day I heard, “I need help building a social media strategy.” To that question I responded, “Tell me a little about your social strategy for your company.” I received a blank stare, because of course, they did not have a social strategy for their company at all.
Jumping into anything new, especially if it’s something that relies on the latest uses in technology, can be a challenge because it seems harder to understand than it really is. You have this same challenge with the new technology that comes every
year from your manufacturers in MPS, Document Management and even the new model copiers and printers.
Most dealerships, in fact most businesses, have a hard time with social media because it is still relatively new, so therefore, it really hasn’t been thoroughly explained to be grasped easily. Businesses in every market segment however, are trying to figure out how to make it pay off financially for them.
The operative word in social media is, well, social. Social media is simply a way to be social online. It is an opportunity to talk to many people in a much shorter period of time than it would take to talk in person.
In business, including marketing, we need to focus on our primary objective. When we fail to focus on our primary objective, it is not hard to miss our goals. Social media’s primary purpose is to facilitate conversations. Its purpose is not to help you make money or directly create new MPS opportunities. It is through those conversations that relationships are formed. It is from those relationships that transactions occur.
Don’t get me wrong; there will be plenty of opportunities to sell online and through social circles. You’ll have more than enough chance to pitch your product to those in your circles of influence.
However, if you start using social media with the intent that it will solve most of your marketing issues, then you’ll lose opportunities to build meaningful relationships online that ultimately can lead to greater business and marketing potential later on.
Let’s look at a metaphor for social media as a networking event filled with people. You’ll have varying levels of familiarity with those in attendance. From those you know very well to those that don’t know you at all.
Imagine, if you will, walking up to people, shaking their hand and saying, “Hello, my name is John, would you like to talk about Managed Print Services? We have a special running today.”
Unfortunately, that is what happens all too often in social media. Businesses start to become friends with people then immediately begin to pitch their products.
Social media finds its best adoption in active storytelling. It is through storytelling that relationships are built. Yes, you can find prospects on social media. Yes, you can offer support to your clientele.
Yes, you can allow your brand exposure. But story telling will allow your customers and prospective customers to learn who you are and why they should consider doing business with you.
By far, the best stories are stories your customers tell about you! Assist them by writing stories about how your print management services helped them to realize savings or improve workflow.
The most common question I hear is, “Okay, that’s all good and well, but how do I get started?”
The most important first step is to be willing to experiment. Everyone’s experience will be different and it may take you some time to find the path that works for you. Don’t assume that because a consultant says that a certain approach is the right approach that it will work for you.
Take the time to research and review information in order to assess what your needs really are and who can best help you.
The most effective way that social media is utilized is by people being, well, engaging. The technology is reasonably irrelevant. There is no truly scientific approach that if you do “A then you’ll sell B.” It is an individual art form that will allow you to be successful as you gain greater experience and get familiar with what type of “socializing” works best and why.
Remember, however, that you can’t approach all business people in the same way. You’ll realize after a short trial and error that with practice comes finesse.
In order to start on your path, there are four key steps to take. After you have created your account on your chosen social media platform, you’ll take these steps:
1. Post messages that are relevant to your audience
2. Find people you like and follow them
3. Comment on other people’s posts
4. Genuinely work to build relationships
Everything else is dependent on your skills in developing conversations. It’s dependent on you being social.
Though it may appear that there is no specific strategy in social media, it does in fact take a solid approach to be able to use social media well enough to promote and/or create interest in your managed print services business.
The cost of using social media is relatively small…the rewards, however, are huge.
Remember that social media is not about pitching products. It’s not about the Internet or the latest technology. Social media first and foremost is about talking to people. It’s about building and maintaining meaningful relationships one tweet or status-update at a time.