The other day I was a guest speaker at a meeting of the National Association of Professional Women’s Fairfax County chapter. I was there to discuss the role of the community manager. Though we were in a private room in Bertucci’s restaurant, I had to speak over the din of the lunchtime crowd to a group of self-employed women covering a wide variety of industries and skills sets. It was safe to assume that while most were active in social media in one way or another, they all found it to be a chore and perceived it as something they had to do in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.
I wasn’t necessarily prepared to handle a wide variety of interests and experiences around social media. Most of the conferences at which I speak have a targeted audience to which I tailor my slides and key messages. Here, I had 30 minutes to speak broadly about a very nuanced topic. It wasn’t easy.
As a social media strategist, I am used to having to subtly persuade clients that social media doesn’t have to be a time-suck and that it can be a great marketing tool – provided that you are using the right tools, with the right message and are targeting the right people. However, what complicates a job like mine is when business owners are hostile to adopting social media policies into their marketing strategy.
The typical excuses range from “I don’t have time” or “It’s too confusing or overwhelming” or “I don’t know what to talk about.” Provided your audience is on social media, all of these self-doubts have easy to execute and managable solutions. Like anything new or different, fear is a natural response. However, for small business owners, especially, such fear can hold you back from opportunity.
I behoove business owners of any size to ask “of what am I so afraid?” Chances are the worst-case scenario can be overcome with some one-on-one training and taking the time to experiment online in a safe environment. Many of the women at Bertucci’s the other day, work in financial services or real estate and no doubt have customers and clients who are afraid of tackling complicated endeavors. And yet, these businesswomen are there to provide guidance and support. I am here for the same purposes – to provide guidance and support to businesses and other professionals who want to better leverage online media for marketing and business promotion.
Here are a few simple exercises to help ease the burden.
Develop a Marketable Persona
Answer the following questions using only keywords: (limit 5-10 keywords each)
- Who am I?
- What do I do?
- What makes me standout?
- What is my incentive?
Define Your Engagement Style and Philosophy
Any business, big or small, has a responsibility to engage with its users. No excuses. However, before you dive into social media or traditional marketing platforms, it’s important to factor in your innate business persona.
Use keywords to describe: (limit 5-10 keywords each)
- What is your personality?
- How do you engage with others?
Define Your Audience
In a purpose-driven organization, you know who your target audience is, what they do, how they act and react. Using Forrester’s Social Technographics Ladder & Social Technologies Profile tools:
- Who are your described target audience?
- Who is your desired audience?
A friendly, 3-minute conversation
You’re in a bar during happy hour. At the bar, you begin talking with the person next to you. It’s loud, and there are many distractions. S/he asks you 3 questions.
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why should I care?
In a sentence for each, write the words that answer the questions. If your tone doesn’t match your customer, s/he’ll think you’re too smug or worse, not serious. If you bore her/him with too many unnecessary details, s/he’ll walk away.
Develop Realistic Goals
Sometimes your widget isn’t a product, but an experience. Social media can provide excellent opportunities for organizations, for profit and non-profit, to promote themselves. In this exercise, identify 3 primary goals you hope to achieve through marketing.
For example, you may want to gain more customers, increase the visibility of your brand/product, or provide a great customer experience (which will require you to define what customer experience means to you).
Develop Customer Incentives
Before you decide what’s in it for you, you must decide what’s in it for your customers. Like any well developed product or service, your social media presence should solve a viable problem or add value to an experience.
Identify three ways you would like to add value to your customer’s experience. Don’t think specifically about a particular platform or outlet, but only about what incentives you or your brand can offer.