I’d been hearing a lot about some guy named Chris Heggem. Words like “brilliant” and “fearless” were thrown around. Also “young.” I heard that one too. As in, how can a guy this young know this much. So I invited him to guest post on It’s All About Revenue. I figured we could lean into his youth, and see what we can learn from a rising star in the “digital native” community. Apparently, we can learn a lot. I did. By the way, Chris is a founder at marketing/communications consultancy BlackBelt Strategies.
Do you remember life before computers and the Internet? I don’t. As a digital native, I’ve been immersed in the Internet, chat rooms, blogs and message boards since the mid-90s. When the phrase “social media” became popular, I viewed it merely as a moniker for what I’d been doing for almost a decade.
The biggest mistake businesses can make when entering the social Web is to view as another place to do marketing. Marketing on social media is more than a tactical shift; it’s a complete change in strategy. Here are 5 tips to help you find success with social media:
1. “Social” is a mentality, not an activity
First, I don’t like the phrase “social media marketing.” It’s redundant. “Social” implies engagement and communication between a business and an audience (sounds like marketing to me). Whatever you do on social media is marketing. That being said, many businesses want to be more social because it provides the unique opportunity to engage with mass audiences on a more personal level, which can help increase awareness, boost revenue, establish thought leadership, find quality talent or create stronger customer loyalty – all good things.
To achieve those goals, businesses must adopt a social mentality and give their audience access to the people and information they need. This is not a one-person job. It’s a skill set that can be learned and implemented across the entire organization. Your company isn’t social if you have a single employee “doing it”.
2. Social media, by itself, is useless
Marketers often refer to their social media strategies as if they were independent and operated outside of their other marketing strategies. The fact of the matter is that Twitter, Facebook and even a blog can’t function independently and don’t serve a purpose unless they are aligned with company objectives.
When you think of social media, think of training wheels - useful when attached to a bicycle, but serve little purpose on their own. If your marketing goals are to create awareness, generate leads or boost sales, social media serves as a tactic to help realize those goals. Social media should never be viewed as a separate or independent program. It’s a “socialized” tactic that should be integrated into your broader marketing program.
3. Social media is stethoscope, not a megaphone
Social media gives businesses the ability to listen to the pulse of the industry, but many marketers consistently try to turn this stethoscope into a megaphone. The social Web serves as a place to talk with others, not at them. By listening, conversing and sharing, businesses can better understand their customers, gather feedback and engage with the masses in a more personal way. The emphasis should be on adding value and the first step is listening.
4. Content is not king
"Content is king" is a very common phrase used in marketing. While content is important, it isn't nearly as important as context. Even the best content will fall on deaf ears if it’s delivered to the wrong audience, shared at the wrong time or presented in the wrong way.
Start with context. Ask yourself the following questions:
Knowing your audience will help shape your content and make it infinitely more valuable.
5. Metrics are Misleading
Another reason marketers love the social Web is because of how incredibly measureable it is - Facebook fans, Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc. However, those metrics aren’t a true measure success. The value of social media isn’t measured by your following, but by the actions taken by your following.
The reason why we participate in social media is to drive traffic, conversions and revenue. Tools like Google Analytics and bit.ly URL tracking are much more valuable because they measure the real effectiveness of your social media programs.