social media marketing made easy? – 4 “back to basics” steps

social media marketing made easy?

4 back to basics steps for smaller businesses

 

I can write a cheque but that doesn’t make me an accountant

I can write a tweet but that doesn’t make me a marketer

 

I am a regular guest at the monthly business breakfast meetings of an enlightened firm of accountants and business advisors. I always come away having learned something new and met someone new. It is a great “don’t miss” event.

This month the host announced via the linked in group that the topic will be “social media for business” and he asked for contributions and thoughts from the network group members in advance.

I will list these later once I have developed my point, but the first issue concerns the subject title. Does he mean “social media for doing business” or “social media for businesses? Similar but different enough to make the observation.

A further issue or confusion for me is the use by all of us of the over-used term “social media”. In current usage the term means posting, broadcasting and commenting through or on a number of interactive web platforms – which are of course the likes of LinkedIn, facebook, twitter, google+, youtube, pinterest and others – so called “free” services.

So why the confusion? Well I believe the confusion I am referring to is the cause of so many people struggling to get to grips with “social media”.

in the olden days

The word “social” does what is says on the tin for me. So I want to focus on the “media” word.

In the olden days (about 7 years ago!) media meant print or broadcast; newspapers and radio; posters and TV; leaflets and websites, etc. In summary, the places or channels through which to communicate your message. To minimise wastage and maximise return the target audience was carefully segmented and targeted. Great care went into choosing the media most viewed by the target audience.

Now consider that there was a team and infrastructure and therefore corresponding budget that were devoted to planning and buying the media, creating and polishing the message and so on. At this point I am starting to get my own point! But let’s develop this a bit further.

Social media platforms have given us all the opportunity to “broadcast” messages. There is no cost of the media space. So that’s a major cost saving. No budget needed for that then.

social media is Free

The message is also free; a retweet, a brief musing, an opinion in a microblog, a link to somebody else’s content. No cost there either.

So, the no or low cost aspect of this is very seductive. The barriers to broadcasting are so low that anybody can do it, so how can we resist? If we do not do something we will look like dinosaurs, won’t we?

SO NOW FOR THE BIG BUT…

Social media is not just content hungry it is voracious! Going social is like driving into a one-way street without a reverse gear. There is no going back. We run the risk of being held hostage by the need to feed.

pre social

So I am now going to suppose that pre social media (on whichever date you choose that to be) every small business was flat out doing its business, all staff utilised (perhaps just you) with no spare capacity. This is true of virtually every business I know of in this category and those “solopreneurs” I know too. In the old days, not many, if any, had the capacity or indeed the budget to engage in proper marketing. The website, some email marketing and regular networking probably did the job. None of this made us professional marketers. We relied on a few core marketing strategies and we probably called them tactics. The small agencies for print and email marketing when times were good; our elevator pitches for face to face; and referrals by clients and friends; and not much else.

So since the date you picked what has changed? What has suddenly made us all competent marketing directors? When did we learn about media and targeting? When did we become experts at creating and crafting a marketing message? What has happened to throw additional man-hours into our work day pot?

Here is the point; why do we tend to think that we can embrace and execute social media marketing, and do it well on top of everything else we do (and don’t get round to) without making changes to our organisations or our personal organisation?

“Social media” is so accessible that we all expect to be able to “do it” and do it well.

I suggest that we can’t.

where does the time go?

I will have taken about 2-3 hours or more to pen this article put it on the blog page of my websites – most of it time taken in thinking, re-reading and polishing between making typing errors! It represents a piece of content that I will use to hopefully improve my reputation in the field of the “socialisation of businesses”. It is the modern day equivalent of producing a leaflet I guess.

I now have how to decide which digital letter boxes I will drop it through and how and when to deliver this digital leaflet, including deciding what social and other channels I should use. This research is the equivalent of the research undertaken by advertising and media buying agencies.

Back to basics. For each product or service you wish to promote consider these 4 aspects

  1. Market (who and where)
  2. Message (what – couched in their terms)
  3. Media (how and where)
  4. Timing (when)

In the old days I would surely have decided first who I would want to receive my message and what my message would be. Social media tends to invert this process. This blog is an example.

My decision to invest the time in writing this article was based on my interest in the topics suggested by the networking group members – a somewhat random stimulus for devouring 2-3 hours of my already limited available time. But I can, so I did! A good use of my time? That’s the big question isn’t it?.

the network group topics

So let me summarise some of the topics proposed by the network group members

  1. How can we be sure to be found when searched for?
  2. What tools and techniques do people use to time manage and plan the implementation of their social media?
  3. What platforms work best for different people?
  4. What are the next trends?
  5. Planning and scheduling of social media [how to]?

My off the cuff responses following the same numbering:

  1. Use social media monitoring tools (free or paid for) to supplement your segmentation and customer profiling work and then digitally hang out where your target customers hang out. Get into their digital space.
  2. The answer to this would be the holy grail of social for small enterprises! But in the meantime I do not think the big chunk of time required can be avoided by the use of tools. Some time can be saved but it is quite small compared with what I suggest you do, which is to do what Johnson & Johnson do, for example:
    1. Prepare a media plan describing what content needs to go out, on what day and at what time to meet the marketing objective. This can be daily, weekly or even monthly to suit your resources, your business, and its market.
    2. Prepare a content production plan and write a stock of content to push out through the media plan. Always write several pieces in advance to cover the day when you cannot get round to it for whatever reason.
  3. The platform is the media. So the question is not which platform works best for different people but what platforms do my target audience use. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Johnson & Johnson used Facebook to launch a soft contact lens to the teenage market and blogs and forums to reach middle aged people with the same launch of the same product. They researched and planned the right media for the right audience.
  4. Don’t know – and if I did I would charge you to tell you!
  5. See 2 and 3 above.

the key Questions

To bring this to a close before I write a full treatise I think some of the key questions for all of us are:

  1. Can I do this properly?
  2. Have I worked out what properly means for me?
  3. Do I have the time to do this properly?
  4. Can I afford to pay someone else to do this properly for me?
  5. Is the opportunity cost of doing it myself worth it?
  6. Have I worked out the difference between B2C and B2B social media marketing?
  7. How much time can I / do I want to give to this?
  8. When will I spend this time?
  9. Every hour spent writing a blog (or other content) is a productive hour lost, forever – will I get a return?
  10. What return do I want?
  11. When do I want my return?
  12. How will I measure it?
  13. Can I manage the community that I might create?
  14. If I start social marketing, can I continue, can I sustain it?
  15. For example do I really want a billboard with no poster or an out of date poster? (The silent twitter stream! The empty blog!)
  16. Am I just caught up in the me-too of social media?
  17. Should I refrain and reconsider if social media marketing is the right marketing strategy for me/my business?

in summary

  • Social media marketing is actually no different from any other sort of marketing.
  • All that has changed is the delivery system (the media).
  • Marketing planning is still at the root of success.
  • Social Media marketing execution still costs money.
  • But the currency in use has merely changed from cash paid to third parties to time consumed by you – usually your valuable productive time.

I can write a cheque but that doesn’t make me an accountant

I can write a tweet but that doesn’t make me a marketer

About Leslie Woodcock

Leslie is the founder director of Enigma. He is an experienced strategy consultant and marketer and has a strong senior executive c.v.

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