What I have learnt about Social Media in business

Over the past few months I have been immersed in the world of Social Media, with a leaning towards its use in the business and enterprise space. This has been driven by two key factors. Firstly I am studying a Social Media in Business paper at Massey University. The second is the organisation I work for has a desire to explore Social Media for engaging with families. From all the literature I have had to read for my studies, plus the optional books I have digested there are several themes or key points that keep coming up for me.

1. ROI. Two definite schools of thought on ROI seem to have developed. One says Social Media is all about engagement and ROI should be considered as a nice bonus. The other says it is all about ROI and it needs to be treated like any other marketing tool. I personally sit somewhere in the middle, but leaning more towards the engagement side. Why? Well for me Social Media allows multi-directional conversations to take part. The risk as I see it of focusing on the return on investment in the first instance is that it will become just another way for the sales & marketing teams to push their message out. I think that if you take part in the conversations and build up relationships that the sales side will look after itself in the longer term. And that’s the key. Longer term. You cannot jump into social media and expect immediate returns. You have to commit for the long haul.

2. Keep it real! Keep it authentic. The online world will sniff out a phoney and you will be roasted! If you start making comments posing as a consumer expect back-lash. And remember to be human. Your consumers and followers are human, treat them as such. Don’t try & be someone or something that you aren’t. And if someone posts a comment that you don’t like, don’t remove it. Respond to it, engage the poster and help them. Who knows, they could end up being your greatest advocate.

3. Park the sales talk. One immediate turn-off for me is companies that push the bog-standard sales pitch through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the other social mediums. I want you to be my partner. Woo me. Seduce me. Don’t force yourself onto me. I used to follow a number of travel companies. One used to send sales and promo information and that was all. The other sent me information about the destinations I could go to, and what I could do there and encouraged people to share their experiences. One forced themselves on me. The other made an emotional connection. Guess which I still follow and click through to find out how they can get me there!

4. Everyone’s an expert. Okay so that isn’t exactly true, but it seems everywhere I turn there is someone else proclaiming to be the leading light in Social Media. Yet to see any real evidence to back up these claim’s. In fairness there are a number of people that are recognised as ‘experts’, are accepted as such by the general population and appear in numerous articles, white papers and the like, but I still smile when I see a random person that I have never heard of pop up and declare they are a Social Media god! They may use the tools, but that doesn’t make them a craftsman!

Am I way off the mark or does this pretty much sum it up?

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One Response to What I have learnt about Social Media in business

  1. I agree with all your comments. Yes, social media is about engagement – that’s why it’s called “social” media. And like you, I’ve followed people online to be suddenly bombarded by marketing – it is a turn off! I like to follow those that provide relevant, interesting material, and that interact with me – I think it’s about building relationships.
    PS: I’m not an expert yet, but aspiring to be 🙂

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