Mastering (?) Social Media – A Perspective for Companies
Is there such a thing as Mastering Social Media?
I agreed to do a presentation on social media at a local community gathering. (The event is September 21, 2009 at 7pm at the Maplewood Library in Maplewood, NJ.) When the flyers and newsletter were circulated, the event read “Mastering Social Media” to be presented by Steve Goldner (aka Social Steve). I was horrified. I do not believe that anyone has “mastered” this less than mature toolset of listening, connecting, marketing, collaborating, engaging with your friends, colleagues, and potential and existing customers. And now, to have my name attached as being the one to deliver the secrets and goods of Mastering Social Media – how presumptuous and pompous. As it is, I am appalled at 99% of the self proclaimed “social media experts.”
Claiming mastery of social media is like claiming mastery of marriage. Does anyone claim to be a master of marriage? I’ve been married for 20+ years and anyone that has reached this milestone knows that marriage is hard work and that hard work is extremely rewarding. I am far from an expert, but I know that putting my heart and soul into marriage, continually listening and learning, has yielded an extraordinary relationship. You know, in a different facet, social media is very similar … you start with something you are very passionate about, apply your knowledge and expertise, and continually listen, communicate, learn, and strengthen relationships.
So now I am giving this presentation on Mastering Social Media. How can that even be done, yet alone, how can I be the one to give these answers? But wait, I rationalize what I have always known. There is no formal playbook to guarantee winning all the time. There are a few general rules of thumb or principles, and a few practices that have their roots in traditional marketing. No, this is not something that I have manufactured, but rather sound philosophies and doctrines that I have simplified and integrated. While I will not claim that they will allow you (or me) to master social media, I will tell you that you will experience increased measurable winning results. This is nothing new that I haven’t already preached, just a consolidated overview …
To start, I recently introduced the concept of the LCR Mentality in an article “Simplifying Social Media.” LCR stands for Listen-Conversations-Relationships. In order for anyone using social media to gain awareness and generate qualified leads for their organization, they must abandon the mindset of promoting and selling in place of a way to establish valued relationships much like in their personal life. By listening, you establish the commonalities (and differences) you have. Having this information (data) allows you to have relevant conversations with your audience and its individuals. Good conversation leads to the start of a relationship. Building stronger relationships yield better customers. (See “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers”). While the LCR mentality requires specific social media executable steps, I emphasize a LCR frame of mind. A continued conscious effort of listening, conversing, and building relationships will pay residual dividends to your organization.
If you have the right mindset, you are half way to winning the social media game. The next requirement is to integrate social media into your marketing plan. Social media should be viewed as one element of the marketing plan – not the marketing plan. There are a couple of pieces of traditional marketing that must be in place – 1) your positioning statement, and 2) the marketing communication objective/plan. (Also see “Before You Start with Social Media.”)
Your positioning statement is not something that is communicated necessarily, but is the base of all communications. It indicates the target customer, the product/service category, significant benefit, competitor, and key differentiation. Once formally defined, all communication should be tested against the positioning statement to ensure appropriate and compelling correspondence.
The marketing communication objectives and plan define the communication or campaign goals, the target audience and their perceptions, content or information to establish subject-matter expertise status, and a call to action. Your goals define what you are attempting to accomplish (generate leads, build awareness, shift an attitude, build a client database, etc.) and quantify desired results (hits on a website; new subscribers, “friend/connect” or “fans”, leads; requests of info, etc.). The target audience can be a subset of your target market segment – you may be speaking to a specific sub-segment. You need to do an honest assessment of your audience’s perceptions (both positive and negative) and determine what perceptions you want to strengthen and reinforce and which ones you want to change. All of this should support the positioning statement. The intent is to move your audience down the marketing funnel. You do this by having a call to action to get them more engaged with your company. CAUTION – do not try to sell them here! Work on getting a deeper and stickier relationship.
I am not suggesting that these steps will make anyone a master of social media, but they will steer you on the right road. Social media is a relatively new area. There are some known best practices and some more that will evolve. Monitor and measure your endeavors. Tweak your implementation based upon measured results … “individual mileage
may will vary.”