I talk to a fair number of people who want to pick my brain about their social media strategy. These conversations are often cut short, after I ask them one question: “What do you want to accomplish?”
I seems like a fairly obvious question, but it’s one that stumps a lot of people. The answer seems obvious as well – nobody ever asks why you’re advertising, or why you have a storefront. Obviously it’s to “increase awareness” or “build profile.”
Social media is a venus flytrap for marketers. From a distance, it’s perfect and beautiful – so many people are using it and it’s the ideal channel for promotion. Once you’ve been enticed inside, it’s a much different view. People don’t like messages, and advertising in social media channels is about as welcome as door-to-door salesmen, for the most part. Social media is not the place to “build profile.”
Does that mean that blogging, micromedia and social networking can’t be powerful business tools? Of course not – and many are using these tools brilliantly to build their business – but I’d wager that every single one of them could have answered that question instantly before they started.
So, what are the business goals you want to accomplish? Do you want to network with like-minded people? Provide better service than your competitors in a way that scales much more easily than a call centre? Do you want to build a network that you can use in times of crisis? Do you want to get product insights from your most vocal users? Do you want to extend your reach as a personality or knowledge leader? Do you want to understand your reputation better?
All of these things are possible, and some with very little expense, through social media, but they all require radically different approaches. Those who have indeed built profile in social media did not start out with just that in mind – just as the most successful networker at an event doesn’t walk around with business card extended.
The reality is that you can’t even begin thinking about the route you’re going to take until you decide where you’re going. Sure, road trips can be fun – but they’re not business.