For months now I've been using the term "freasy" for social media marketing. Meaning it's free and easy to do.
But that isn't the whole story. It's free. It's easy. But darn, in other ways it's so very, very hard. The hard bit is getting traction. Getting the numbers you need to create a critical mass of followers, fans and connections. Even after putting in lots of time, effort, thought, money and heart, you could still be shouting to an empty room.
This is what I have found. Even though I am doing everything right (I'll detail that in a minute), I still have only 840 or so Facebook fans, 740 Twitter followers and 560 LinkedIn connections.
When you consider that my monthly newsletter goes to about 18,000 people, I promote the site on more than 550 pages throughout my website, I have this bi-weekly column (which goes online on Monday mornings), I have the addresses on my business cards and post at least three times a week, this question begs to be asked: what do you have to do to get critical mass?
Yes, I've been growing my newsletter database for more than 11 years. Yes, my Facebook business page is only seven months old. Yes, social media for business is in its infancy, but gee whizz, will this work pay off? Last week when I made this point on my Facebook page, I got quite a few pats on the back saying that 840 was a great number. Just think of all the small businesses starting out, people working their tushes off - with only 50, 232, or 300 fans and the like.
Am I lamenting that social media isn't all it's cracked up to be? No - just complaining that it's taking more time than I thought, and the key to this problem is one's target market. As a business speaker and author, my demographics are primarily middle-aged decision makers. These are busy people. They have families. Responsibilities. Not only is it harder to get these types of fans; they will spend less time on social media, so your messages and updates will pass them by.
I know businesses with a younger target market have a much easier time getting critical mass. Some examples: Belly Beyond sell baby and maternity gear and their Facebook site has skyrocketed from 261 on May 10 to a current 4527 fans. Giapo, the downtown Auckland gelato store, has 11,155 fans on Facebook and 4261 on Twitter. Michael Earley promotes DJs, dances and launches to 2408 friends through his Facebook profile.
For the vast majority of professional service businesses like mine, with an older demographic, I feel there's a small chance that Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook will bring what we'd like - new clients to our door.
For our businesses, I believe it's a two-step process. First, you work hard to get your existing contacts to your social sites and get them to refer them to their colleagues and friends. You do this by building relationships with good, interesting content. To get new business, you go through your social media contacts and their contacts, investigating who's who and contacting them as you would any prospect. A new form of Yellow Pages, if you will.
So what are the right things to do? From what I've seen so far, social sites need continual and heavy marketing and promotion until you get a critical mass that self-generates new activity for you.
* Offline: Let people know about your social media when they walk into your premises. Do you have signs with the social media logos and a call to action (Like us, follow us, connect with us)?
Have you made it easy? Can you supply a way for them to sign up then and there? Such as a computer or iPad (bolted down) at the cash register, in a waiting room, at a gathering point?
Do you have your social media addresses on your business cards, your marketing material, in your advertisements?
* Online: Have you updated your website to include the plug-in applications that link social media signups to your website? If you look on my website home page successis.co.nz as an example, you'll see both a "Follow Me On Twitter" Button and a Facebook "Like" and "latest update" stream. On any of my 500-plus article pages, you'll see a simple "Like" Button. For Facebook plug-ins go to developers.facebook.com/plugins. Finally, be sure to keep up a stream of well thought out activity via postings and links to help keep the potential for referral activity alive.
The winners of our giveaway, who each receive a copy Debbie's latest book, Make Your Database Your Goldmine, are: Michael Cornell, Mt Albert; Mark Smith, Pukekohe; Carene Muller, Northcote; Lisa Chatfield, Dunedin; and Royce Smith, Matamata.
Debbie Mayo-Smith is a bestselling author and international speaker. Twitter m_seffective