Have you ever been asked, “What is your goal for social media?” If you’re working with a social media consultant, I sure hope so… if they haven’t asked you, how do they know how to help you? Many people automatically say “sales”, but that is definitely not the only reason to engage in social media. While I truly and honestly believe that good social media engagement by a business can lead to sales, I also do not believe that is the only, or best, reason for being there. Here are some great alternative social media goals:
I think this is the one that most people associate with social media. After all we often call it social media marketing. A lot of what “we” do on social media we do to get in front of our potential customers, to create awareness of a product or service.
Just like meeting new people face to face at your local Chamber of Commerce event, social platforms like Twitter can provide infinite opportunities to meet new people who are not local. Trying to branch out in the Australian market? Search Twitter for Australians talking about needing your product or service. Looking for a speaking engagement in Europe? Search Twitter for opportunities and other speakers to ask for advice. And be prepared to offer help in return. Networking, like social media, is a two-way street.
3. Customer Service
Some social accounts are set up for the express purpose of servicing customer enquiries and complaints. I see this mainly on Twitter, where companies like Hootsuite and Best Buy have dedicated “help” accounts to answer those queries.
4. Education (for yourself)
Twenty years ago where did you go when you needed to research something? The library? The newspaper archives? Now everything you need can be found online. No matter what your topic, there are people out there tweeting and posting about it, you just need to find them and they will point you to a cache of resources you wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.
5. Education (for your potential clients/customers)
Do you have a complicated product line? How-to videos or blog posts can be an excellent way to educate your customers on how to use it, while saving you time by creating a resource for the next person to ask that question. Other great things to educate your customers about: manufacturing processes, benefits of organic products, how new products are developed, and soooooo much more.
6. Market Research
Much of what you need can be found online, whether you’re starting a new business or you are updating your business path for the next three years. You can find demographic and population information on government websites. You can research company names, locations, franchise opportunities. Some of this is available through Google, but think of the additional information you have access to by joining groups on LinkedIn, or searching Twitter.
7. Competitive Research
Social media makes it very easy to check up on your competition. Use this ability to see where their gaps are and fill them yourself!
Is part of your business model to change the way people do something? Whether you’re lobbying government for tighter food safety regulations, or promoting a boycott of Monsanto products, never before have you had the ability to reach millions of people so easily.
9. Create Expert Status
For consultants this is a popular one. It’s harder to sell your time, but if you create your reputation as an expert in your field, it becomes easier. Providing useful content on your social channels can help people see your expert status in ways they might not by simply meeting you at a networking event. With the addition of endorsements and recommendations, word of mouth marketing takes over and other people will help you build that reputation.
I think Oreo is a great example of this. I mean really… what else can they do? By being entertaining they’ve garnered over 33 million Facebook fans and over 108,000 Twitter followers. Who knew there were so many ways to talk about a cookie?
11. Grow Your List / Fill Your Funnel
You can use social media to direct people to your e-mail or other marketing funnel. This works especially well if you have something to give them as an incentive, like an e-book or whitepaper.
12. Garner Media Attention
If you need to build relationships with the media, social might be the way to do it now. I know 90% of the local media in my area are using Twitter… some more effectively than others of course. Because you now have direct, public and easy access to many forms of media, you should be able to find the ones you need to help forward your cause, build your business or get your information out there. While this wasn’t a goal for my own business, I’ve now built relationships through Twitter with a couple of local journalists who will call on me when they need a social media expert for their story. Just like you are going to find new people to talk to, reporters are scanning social media for stories to cover and new angles to add.
Some people will say you should be doing all of this anyway and maybe you should, but you can really only focus on a select few at a time. All of these different goals do tend to intertwine nicely. Manage to incorporate all of them into your strategy and I’m guessing you’ll be the next big thing. Focus on a select few of them and you will be primed to reach your business goals. Either way, it’s a win-win. Your customers win because your efforts are focused and they know what to expect. You win because your efforts are focused and you know what to post!