Friday, 17 September 2010
When I’ve asked most people how they hope social media is going to work to promote their business, they normally tell me that by getting their brand in front of as many people as possible, a percentage of these will be interested enough to buy.
They go on to explain that with Facebook for example, they hope to get as many followers (‘likes’) as possible.
Certainly some Facebook sites that I’ve looked at have literally millions of fans – Coca Cola has just under 12 million, Subway has 2 million and even the BP Organisation has nearly 8,500 people that ‘like’ it. (Having said that I did notice nearly 10 times as many people are signed up for the Boycott BP Facebook pages!). Incidentally, this relates to one of my earlier postings ‘What you need to consider Before engaging in social media' and the point about handling bad publicity!
These larger companies already have significant brand awareness and attract people to them, especially if they think there might be something in it for them, for example free products or discounts etc.
But how do the rest of us, especially those of us with businesses that cater to other businesses get large followings and grow their brand influence?
To my mind it’s a bit like standing on a soap box in a public square (like the Wizard in Christchurch used to do) and shouting out your message. At first probably no-one will notice you, or if they do, they’ll probably just walk on by.
If you’re wise, you’ll have tried the 'rent-a-crowd' approach by getting your friends and relatives along for support. Once people see that others are stopping to listen, they are encouraged to do so too. Gradually as the numbers swell, the momentum increases until you have a sizeable crowd – assuming of course that what you have to say is interesting.
I see so many similarities in this with using Facebook in particular. Who are your first followers? Generally it'll be your staff, friendly customers, business partners etc. As time goes on these will include future clients and partners, people who haven’t yet done business with you but who’ve heard the buzz around what you’re saying.
The trick is to keep what you say interesting and useful.
Now one thing that can be a problem, especially if you’re servicing other business owners is the fact that your targets are likely to be extremely busy, and perhaps slightly older. However, even this demographic is beginning to engage in social media, and slow persistence will gradually build that following.
Iif you feel that social media does have a place in promoting your business, don’t give it a go for just a short period of time, be prepared to build it up slowly and methodically. You’ll find that time thinking about, and preparing useful things to say, will be useful to you in your other forms of marketing and in clarifying your own thinking about what you have to offer. Good luck!