Change Your Online Approach > Change Your Business

Change Your Online Approach Change Your BusinessWith all the advice about making your business more social, there’s surprisingly little information about what that really means. Because of this, a large amount of businesses – spanning from small to corporate – jump on the social bandwagon… and completely screw it up.

You know, back in 1505, social meant, “characterized by friendliness or geniality”. Over the years, it’s taken on different, somewhat fuzzy meanings, but, for once, it seems Wikipedia has it right: Attitudes, orientations, or behaviors that take the interests, intentions, or needs of other people into account.

Isn’t it amazing? When you apply those particular definitions to the term social, you’re also describing one heck of a marketing plan. Aren’t the interests, intentions and needs of your target market the things any marketing campaign is supposed to address, after all?

So how are companies doing it wrong? By using social as just another direct marketing method, and ignoring that social is more than networking platforms. For your social media campaign to do all the things people say it will, you have to change your business approach.

Business > People

Once, people were used to thinking of a corporation as XYZ Corporation. With the exception of local outlets, they didn’t expect to know the names of people working at any given business.

Times change, as we all know. Now, we not only expect to know the names, we expect to be able to talk to the people working at XYZ Corporation. This is especially true if we know XYZ Corporation has a Twitter, Facebook page, support forum, blog or email address.

Take Away Tip: Yes – your social campaign is for business. Yes – you have to maintain a certain amount of professionalism. However, if you don’t treat your followers, fans, consumers, etc. as if you’re talking to them face to face, you will lose them. We’re tired of corporate black suits; give us approachability.

Selling > Helping

There is a big difference – a phenomenal difference – between selling to people and helping people. Example: Selling
Customer: Where can I find more information about product X? Any ideas?
You: You can buy some here (link to your site)
Helping
Customer: Where can I find more information about product X? Any ideas?
You: Here’s a great link with tons of info about product X – hope it helps! (link to best source of info, even if it’s not on your site)

You’re probably looking at this and thinking, “But that’s a lost opportunity to sell a product!” This is where you have to change your thinking. It’s not a lost opportunity; you actually gained something there. Several somethings, actually. With that single point of contact:

  • You’ve begun positioning yourself as a friendly, helpful individual
  • You’ve begun positioning yourself with that person as an authority figure on product X.
  • You’ve begun positioning yourself as someone to trust. Instead of automatically going for the sale, you sent them to the best place for them, not the best place for you.

Don’t answer a request for more information with a buy now blurb. Look, people – they don’t know whether they want to buy or not. That’s why they’re asking for more information.

Take Away Tip: Building trust is hard. It’s even harder when you make it obvious that the only “best interests” you have in mind are yours. – And, if you’re not happy sending someone else’s informative link, simply make sure your site is the best information resource available.

Secretive > Transparent

We’re not suggesting that you go airing all your dirty laundry to the public. We don’t expect you to say, “Hey, look at all the crap we’re in! Isn’t that great?” However, if the dirty laundry is already out there (or you know it’s coming), address it.

As a perfect example, have you seen the kind of marketing campaign Domino’s Pizza put out? If you haven’t, it’s worth a gander just to gain a lesson on transparent marketing.

Take Away Tip: If the proverbial crap has hit the metaphorical fan, don’t bury your head in the sand and hope the mess will clean itself up. Even if you have to hire a marketing expert and lawyers to make sure you do it right, address the issues in an upfront manner.

Listening > Participating

You can listen all you want; in fact, we’ve talked about how important listening actually is several times. However, at some point in time you also have to participate in the conversation. For example, if someone sends you an email, they expect you to answer it. If someone calls your phone, they expect you to pick it up.

The same principle applies to whatever social platform you’re using. If you have 3,000 followers and someone critics or compliments your business in a tweet, treat it like you would an email or phone call. We call it participating, but it’s really just active listening (versus passive listening). An active listener / participant responds at the appropriate times with an appropriate response.

Take Away Tip: Being unresponsive on a social network is just as bad as never answering or returning phone calls. If you’re going to use this expansive, growth-producing marketing medium, communication has to be both ways.

Conclusion

Not everybody can be a social media guru, full of the best tips of the day and the greatest advice. Most people are just like us, business professionals trying to grow their business however they can.

But, social media is different than most marketing methods. You simply can’t apply the same old ideas to social and succeed. It’s not just your approach you have to change, but your whole way of thinking when it comes to online, and social, marketing.

Have you found the above to be true? What have you had to change to be able to succeed online?

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