Advances in technology usually bring about changes in our business models, but often reluctantly. Take the music industry, for example, when it switched from vinyl to CDs in the 80s and then to mp3’s a decade later. The record companies were slow to change and lost control of their royalties as music was shared freely over the Internet.
Instead of embracing change they fought it and LOST! The innovators and market disruptors such as Napster and iTunes stepped in and the rest is history. The game changed and left the dinosaurs in court fighting over the scraps.
The marketing industry is right in the middle of a similar shift.
Traditional broad-stroke marketing methods still exist such as TV commercials and print advertising, but they are now integrated with online campaigns and multi-channel ‘social’ methods.
Social media is messy! Marketers have lost control of their brand, forced to get down and dirty with their customers. But this presents an opportunity for SMEs to interact with their customers to embrace the conversation online about their ‘brand’ and industry, and become a recognised leader at the same time.
For SMEs the social media space can be daunting. Where to start? What to say? Will anyone listen? But just remember, nobody knows more about your business than you do. Just communicate that.
You started your business because you are passionate about what you do. Just writing this article continues to increase my passion for the connectivity and interaction that makes the web such an amazing place to be.
Build your ‘content bank’ and publish to your blog to start the conversation. Fresh, original and focused content is the key.
If you struggle with writing then work with someone who can help to refine your message. Try recording a podcast or video cast of your ideas. Your passion will unite others who are similarly passionate about what you have to say.
Gaining a foothold in social media is probably the highest mountain to climb, but definitely worth the effort. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
Establish business and personal profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and any channel where you know your followers hang out. Spend 15 – 30 min (yes – that’s all it should take) every day building connections on each of these platforms.
Use automated tools to make publishing to these platforms from your blog fast. Drive traffic using email and RSS feeds. Allow your followers to interact with each other and join in the conversation.
The true test of a social media strategy is when the sh*t hits the fan. Without well-established and controlled social channels a business can crumble under a wave of online criticism.
Proportional engagement with, and acceptance of the size of the problem is proven to yield positive outcomes and turn unhappy vocal customers into fans of your business, often within the space of 140 characters! Being honest, open and transparent wins every time.
Until you have started to engage your audience you will not know what keeps people coming back to be part of your ‘tribe’, but in our experience it’s usually the ‘personal’ side to our business.
Whether it is walking 100km to raise money for charity or the latest addition to the family, you need to find the twist that engages and inspires your community. (Standby for my next adventure – it’s a beauty!) Be creatively controversial, informative and original.
You can be guaranteed that social media and networking trends will continue to evolve. But if you have established a base then it is much easier to roll with the changes because you already have a community that will follow you wherever you go.
Social media and networks aren’t new, we are at least 5-6 years into this cycle of change that has forced the shift in marketing methodology. The good news is that the tools exist to make social media easy. Just ask!
Photo credit: www.freefoto.com
Jason Hawkins is a senior application strategist, information architect and director at KND. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience in taking online application ideas to reality across a broad range of industries.
KND are web and digital professionals with over 10 years in the business. We specialise in web, cloud and mobile apps, eMarketing and SEO strategy, servers, hosting and design. We work closely with out clients to achieve successful outcomes. Call us today (+61 7 3832 4077) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your next project.Posted by Jason Hawkins on 28 June 2011