These last few weeks, I’ve been both a student and a teacher. While teaching my classes at BCIT, I’ve also been taking a class–one that teaches me how to teach my class online. The plan is that I will teach my “Social Media Marketing for Business” class online starting in September.
Creating this new class forces me to look at my material in a new light. And the other day, I started thinking about how far removed I sometimes get from the basics–which is the way I have to approach my material: from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about social media. So. Let’s go back to the basics.
Social Media Marketing is founded upon a few basic principles:
Collaboration: I work with artists a lot. What I’ve found at times in the past is that artist (and other biz folks, too!) can be a little guarded about sharing their work and ideas. There is always the fear that someone will steal the idea. Social Media operates under the principle that knowledge is power, and the more brains you have working on on an idea, the better the outcome will be. A great example: hitRecord.
Communication: One of the main mistakes I see businesses making on social media is that they aren’t attempting to create a two-way conversation. They are simply broadcasting their message. This is old-school marketing applied to new media, and it fails miserably. Social media is about having a conversation, which is why it’s incredibly important to check your @mentions on Twitter on at least a daily basis. Twitter, especially, is rapidly becoming a customer service tool.
Blogs were the reason we were catapulted into our current, Web 2.0 era: previous to having blogs, websites were one-way conversations: they were simply broadcasting. But blogs enabled us to begin to have a two-way conversation with our clientele, and that is an incredibly powerful tool for building engagement. Other forms of social media work in a similar way. Social media is, after all, social.
Transparency/Authenticity: There’s nothing that builds trust better than someone saying, “Ask me anything. I’m an open book.” Allowing your audience access to you, to your business, to behind-the-scenes, is an incredibly powerful tool.
The challenge, of course, is how open to be, how much to share. Oversharing (TMI!!) can be a killer. In general, it’s best to do what your momma, said, and that is, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” But there are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Sometimes people are doing wrong, and need to be called out on it. But for the most part, keep your personal grousing to yourself, and not on Facebook.
Engagement: Many social media “gurus” will tell you that you need to build up your numbers in order to be successful on social media. To the extent that there are actually companies out there who are selling Twitter followers and Facebook likes. But numbers aren’t everything. Sure, if you have thousands of followers, it makes engagement easier, perhaps. But a small, engaged group of fans who are “into” you, and respond and reply and ask questions could be considered to be more successful than someone with thousands of fans.
Trust Relationships: All of these principles: Communication, Collaboration, Transparency and Engagement lead to relationships based on trust. And relationships based on trust lead to business, because we like to do business with folks that we know, like or trust. It’s just that simple.
If you stick to these basic concepts, you can never go far wrong.