The reality is that social media ‘experts’ are what web designers were back in the late 90s: Everyone with a computer and an Internet connection could all of a sudden transform your business into this online mecca. What really happened was that companies who pioneered the online space found themselves, and their websites, in a miserable heap of disappointment.
The very same lessons from the 90s and web development can be applied to the social media frontier we find ourselves in today. There are businesses that have truly embraced social media and make it an integral part of their business, and successfully engage in conversations with their customers.
Social media fails
In the same vain there are some epic social media fails, even from the big guys with millions to spend. When BP weren’t able to stop pouring millions of litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they didn’t immediately turn to their social media tools to start having conversations with their communities; instead they spent $50M flighting TV ads of the CEO talking about how they were making things better.
It wasn’t until a month down the line that they actually started communicating via Twitter and Facebook and by this time it was too late. Rival Facebook groups were receiving more attention than BP’s own official page and a spoof Twitter account gained momentum with around three times more followers than the BP account had.
Making the most of social media
Here are some lessons to assist you with making the most of a limited social media budget.
- Listen to your customers, ‘likers’ and ‘followers’. Understand what your audience want and what they’re interested in before assuming.
- Engage in conversations. Get involved in conversations that are taking place on your social media platforms. Whether you like it or not, your customers are going to talk about your brands. If you choose to ignore those conversations you have no way of influencing the outcome.
- Don’t try and sell your products. Talk about features and benefits and how they will make your customer’s lives easier. Don’t try and sell product, your website should do that for you.
- Be honest. If you’ve made a mistake, apologise. Do it early and be sincere. Talk about how you’re going to rectify your mistake and talk about it often.
- Don’t start something you can’t follow through with. Make social media the responsibility of someone in your business, link it to their KPI’s and measure it. If you continue to start and stop, you’ll never gain the momentum you need to make social media a success.