Whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Draugiem or cv’s and brochures, you will encounter people who will call themselves a Social Media Expert. Or worse: Guru. If there is one thing you should know, it is that you should stay away from them if you want to do something with social media. Almost invariably, self-proclaimed Social Media Experts base their expertise on the fact that they know how to update a Facebook status, or send a Tweet. And that it looks nice to have a lot of followers. In fact, the advice you will get is that the most important thing is to get as many followers/fans as possible. Having a lot of those is real success and your business will flourish.
Well, I’m not an expert, but I think that having a lot of followers or fans does not pay any bill. The presumption for the importance of numbers of followers is that the higher that number, the more your social media messages get shared, and the more popular your brand or company becomes. This believe is rooted in the same mechanisms that make direct mailing work: the more letters you send, the higher the chance someone will buy something from you. However, in social media terms, sending unsolicited messages is called spam. And spam is not only generally ignored, but the source is also deemed to be untrustworthy. Not something you want for your image. Plus, the mechanism, based on the underlying premise of broadcasting, does not work in social networks. People like or share the things that add value to them, things that enhance their own image or things that entertain them. And those things originate very simply in you providing an excellent product or service, and a great customer experience. You need to provide quality that adds value to your customers, then they will share your stories.
So now we’ve established that getting people to promote your product or service, you simply need to make that of high quality. You need to focus first on making your product something that people love. But is that then success in social media, if many people promote you? Well, you’re on your way, but not completely there yet. The next step is converting that into something that really benefits your business. How does people sharing your stories translate into more sales. Or how using social media to engage with your customers translates into reducing costs in your customer service operation. In other words, how does your activity in social networks contribute to the profitability of your company. When you’re venturing into social media, that is the thing you want to evaluate it by. And if you’re looking for expertise to help you with that, avoid the people calling themselves experts, but find the ones that others refer to as the ones able to bring you results. Also, look for the ones that want to help building the expertise inside your company and set goals that bring tangible business results.
This post has appeared earlier in the March newsletter of the American Chamber of Commerce.