By Jay Miletsky, Co-Author of Perspectives on Marketing, Perspectives on Branding, and Perspectives on Social Media Marketing
Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend among people—small business owners and managers, especially—looking to improve their marketing through social media efforts. They started out skeptical (can this really work for my company?), moved on to anxious (I’ve got to start a social media marketing program, fast!), graduated to proud (I’ve started a blog and a Facebook fan page!), and have now increasingly settled on disappointed (this social media stuff really hasn’t done much for my business).
It’s a sad state of affairs, really, that so many business owners and marketing managers are reaching a point of disillusionment when it comes to their social media marketing efforts. But it’s a virus that seems to be spreading—a quick search on Facebook through practically any industry will show a veritable wasteland of abandoned fan pages that seemed to be launched in earnest, updated with regularity, and abruptly forgotten about when new wall posts failed to generate user interaction and fan counts never reached much beyond an early round of invites to friends and family.
The problem isn’t social media as a discipline, however. The problem is that too many marketers take the lazy way out—or at least fail to realize that small business success in the social space requires more effort than simply launching and updating a fan page and expecting people will engage you there. Even a remote control car only moves when someone’s at the controls steering it.
To gain a following (blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.), marketers need to reach beyond their own social space:
- Don’t just write posts on your own blog. Reach out to industry blogs to guest write for them.
- Read popular industry blogs on a daily basis. Zero in on one or two posts you feel strongly about—or at least have an opinion on—and leave a comment. Make it thoughtful and informative, and, if possible, leave it early in the morning, so it’s one of the first comments of the day. That way, other readers will be more likely to read what you have to say.
- When you comment on someone else’s blog, always remember to leave a standard signature with your name and company name, as well as links to your site/blog, fan page, and Twitter site.
- Don’t simply leave wall posts on your Facebook fan page. Look for larger organizations on Facebook that have fan or group pages where you can reach a broader audience. For example, suppose you’re marketing a hospital. Don’t limit your interactions to your own wall and fans. There are Facebook groups on general health topics as well as specific topics like breast cancer that literally have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers. Posting topics there or commenting on other posts will help expose your brand page to many of those followers.
- Find #hashtag conversations on Twitter related to your industry, and join in those conversations to build a following.
- Check out LinkedIn Groups and see where you can add your thoughts to existing conversations or start your own thread based on topics that will be relevant to you and the group.
Most of all, as with any other form of marketing, success requires a consistent effort. Results are rarely, if ever, seen immediately, and only those who persevere through audience droughts will be around to feel the flood.