The other day I got to speak to about 25 independent business people at Iowa Western Community College in Cass County, Iowa. The event was sponsored by the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce. Media people, retail folks, non-profit agencies packed a room to learn more about social media and business. It was a nice crowd and...they...LOVED ME! Watch!
OK...but read on...
While I'd love to work with each person on an individual level, we can't. However I want to summarize my thoughts so that you, and perhaps some of the people who came to the three plus hour session, might consider what was said:
Social Media is a Process - At each seminar I speak to the difference between a sprint and a marathon. Social Media for business is a marathon. You have to be in it for the long haul and it takes...work.
There is NO right answer- The role of marketing is to attract more customers to then sell more of what the business is offering. However, the methods used for one consumer group may not work for another. You would not use the same message to sell a Jaguar as you would a Toyota Minivan. Think "Swagger Wagon". (I know you want to see it...again.) The same goes with your business. The consumer for a flower shop is motivated by a different message and delivery system than say a consumer for plumbing and heating services.
Know Your Market- What motivates your market? Not your neighbors market...but yours. For example a Chamber of Commerce is motivated by a different set of wants/needs than is a restaurant. True, both seek customers/clients but the delivery of the message and the message itself needs to be crafted to the target market. There is a real but subtle difference. Only YOU (or a professional in the craft) can discern your market and it's motivation.
Work Does Not Always Equal Success- I make it clear to groups I meet with that I believe the two most powerful social media mediums for business is the Business Blog and Twitter. Are there other channels? Yes. However, these two resources allow you to create a voice and get found while gently pushing people to your message. Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube all have fantastic applications...and I may be dead wrong...but, to me, they produce a different result. There is NO "magic bullet"
Speaking of Magic Bullets - Social Media does not take the place of traditional media, solid public relations efforts and excellent customer service. It is an additional resource that you have to think about and consider before you make the jump. How do you do that? Read, follow, engage other social media leaders.
The Business of Passion - If you are driven, if you have the passion for connecting and marketing. If you view this "new media" for what it is...a tool that can make an amazing difference in your overall presentation by entering into a "conversation" with your target market...go for it. But, if you do not want to spend an additional two hours a day connecting, engaging, listening and building voice. Do not move forward. You will, in the end, be greatly disappointed and be like nearly 60 percent of first time social media users...who shut down after just a few weeks of effort.
Thanks for reading and watching! And, to Atlantic, Iowa: You have a wonderful town...keep at it. Connect on Twitter? @MichaelLibbie (Business & Personal) or @InsightADV (Business Baby...all business.)