Social media — why bother. Does that thought cross your mind as a business owner?
There’s a recent study that just confirmed that more than half the major companies in the US have no plans, meaning ZERO, to get involved in social media until it is forced upon them by the new generation. Okay, I’m overstating their results a bit — and I’m not going to reveal the study source yet (that’s a blog post later this week).
This does not seem to bode well for my conclusion — which is that social media concepts are worth pursuing for time-starved business owners.
A phrase I’ve heard many times, “Every one is selling something…” And so rather than go to the people who do “social media” for a living and have something to sell, I went to one of my favorite bloggers and change agents, William Azaroff, to talk about how and why social media is worth the effort.
William works for Vancity, Canada’s most successful credit union. He spearheaded their efforts into social media with a community called, ChangeEverything.ca. The reason I went to William is I’ve found him to be thoughtful and thought provoking – a wonderful combination in a person. Plus, he gets social media and community better than most of the so-called experts. He’s doing it, building it, with ChangeEverything – that says something.
I asked him the following questions and I think this blog post may stretch to my first two part series… My questions were not yes/no type questions. Plus, I’m going to post William’s full answers on my personal site here because I found them worth the time to ponder.
My question: Would it be better to simply participate [meaning comment instead of run your own blog] in a few strategic places and give up on “blogging”? Which is better — create a social network on Ning or blog on your own?
William’s response: “With all the social media noise you’re referring to, I think that makes it all the more critical to understand the reasons why your business wants to get involved with social media. What do you want to get out of it? Why will your business be better as a result? What will it take to do this? How will you gather those critical metrics that determine success?”
Everyone I discuss social media with has the same response — where’s the profit? My argument is just like anything in business it takes time to develop. If you simply set yourself up on LinkedIn or Facebook and expect that all of a sudden “customers” will find you and flock to buy your product or service. Well, if that’s your expectation, then frankly, you also probably have a problem in your marketing efforts overall — online or offline.
William added, “The answers [to the above questions] don’t have to be perfect, but thinking this through is immensely helpful and will often make the difference between a successful implementation of social media and an unsuccessful one.
“If you decide to create your own blog, what are you offering that’s different or superior to what is out there? Do you have something of value you’re contributing? Can you offer something to the Facebook crowd? Does it make sense to be there? How will you get the word out about your blog, community, Facebook page, or whatever it is you decide to do?”
Let me highlight William’s points on asking the right questions, contemplating what you are really trying to offer to your audience, and key in my mind: HOW will you get the word out. We seem to be stuck in the mindset of what’s my return on investment without asking first — what am I prepared to invest to get a return?
My second question to William centered on Vancity is an 800 pound gorilla in the market — is this something that the small and medium size guys can replicate? What do the small and medium size guys get out of social plays?
William responded with, “We all get the same thing. Transparency, authenticity, word of mouth, opportunities for brand evangelists to get involved, a more informal two-way communication channel, a chance to listen to your audience. Whether you’re Pepsi or a real estate agent, we all want more or less the same things for our business.”
That last sentence is clutch. Without dwelling on profits, William and the team at Vancity, realize that brand awareness and community participation (online and off) is what earns trust. And trust, in this new age, is the currency we want to trade.
Please share your experiences in comments or email here or via email to Q4Sales at Gmail dot com