“Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Be remarkable” is the catch phrase used by social media early adapters to answer questions like these:
How do I get more Twitter followers?
My blog doesn’t get comments. What should I do?
How do I attract fans to Facebook?
My car doesn’t start when the weather is cold. What is the problem?
Okay, the last question may be a stretch, but you get the idea. Ask anything about creating an effective social media strategy and invariably the answer will include something about being remarkable.
This advice has some merit. Companies like Apple, Zappos, and Coca-cola have an existing fan base that thinks they are remarkable. They feed that base regularly by continuing to be interesting. It’s little wonder that there is plenty of conversation about them on social media platforms.
What happens if your business is less than remarkable? Your service is good, products are top quality, and customers are happy, but everything falls in the “normal” category. Can you succeed in a channel that expects “remarkable” activity? Why should you even try?
Before answering those questions, let’s look at what social media is and isn’t:
Social media is:
- A great way to connect with customers. This is especially true for direct marketing and ecommerce companies that have little or no face-to-face contact with the people who support them.
- A way to boost natural search results. There is a “SEO is dying” rumor floating around social media circles. It isn’t true. Search is the still the best way to drive quality traffic to your website. And, now that the major engines are indexing social platforms, you have another way to stay in front of customers and attract new ones.
- A tool to expand your reach exponentially. As your community grows and participates with your activities, the potential audience expands. It is critical that you have a strategy with specific goals to take advantage of this opportunity.
Social media isn’t:
- A replacement for traditional marketing. The platforms are evolving into social commerce, but you still need a point of sale to complete the purchase. The best strategies include an integrated approach that uses all of the marketing tools that fit the company’s market.
- For everyone. Your customers may not be participating at this time so SEO will be the only benefit. You should still consider participating because you want your presence established when your customers do join.
- A short-term solution. It takes time to build a presence and see results. A long time. Expect to spend at least a year providing consistent content before you start seeing a return on your investment. It takes a lot of snowflakes to make a snowball, but once it’s rolling, it grows quickly.
Success in social media is different for every company.
Even businesses in the same industry with overlapping communities will see incredible variances. Every organization has a unique personality or corporate culture that is defined by the leadership, employees, and customers. This creates individual perceptions and expectations that affect the experience. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Start with realistic goals and expectations. While social media has been around for several years, it is still evolving at a rapid pace. It won’t magically morph your business into a super company, but it can help you improve customer relationships.
- Have a plan. If you’re just getting started, plan first. If you’ve been at it for a while, make a plan for going forward. (Don’t stop your activity while you plan. You’ll lose traction.) What do you want to accomplish? Connect with customers? Find prospects? Improve website traffic? You can do it all, but you need a strategy. If you’re participating without a plan, how do you know what works or doesn’t? There isn’t a point of reference.
- Know your numbers by establishing benchmarks and regularly updating your data. Social media success is hard to measure. You can measure tweets, retweets, likes, and mentions, but none of them come with direct deposit. The purpose of business is to serve customers at a profit. If social media doesn’t contribute, you don’t need to participate. If you have good benchmarks, you can see the effect on the backend.
- Be flexible, but stay the course. It takes time to build an interactive community. Social media is changing rapidly. What works today may not be available tomorrow. For example, contests were a good way to attract people to your Facebook community until the terms of service were changed. The platforms make the rules and change them frequently. You have to adapt as needed.
- Ignore the noise. There’s a lot of it, loud, persistent, and sometimes ugly. Invariably, you’ll do something that others won’t like and there will be fallout. Here’s a simple rule of thumb to follow: If your customers are unhappy, change what you’re doing. If the social media pundits are unhappy, you’re probably doing something right. Even if it is a mistake, as long as it wasn’t malicious, the fallout will be minimal. Social media bullies have short attention spans.
- Be personable but not personal. Everything you do in the social media world should reflect your company’s core values. Chatting about the weather is fine. Leave commenting on world politics to others unless it is part of your business.
- Have an exit strategy. Social media isn’t for everyone, but every company should test it. If it works, customers who participate have higher lifetime values and longer lifespans. If it doesn’t, continuing to participate is futile. When you make your plan, define the length of time you’ll test, amount of resources you’ll commit, what defines success, and how you’ll leave if it doesn’t work out.
When someone tells you that all it takes to succeed is being remarkable, remember this: People who are truly remarkable rarely see it in themselves and never talk about it. People who think they are remarkable rarely deliver on the promise.