by Jeanine Vecchiarelli return to JayVee Media Link LLC
“How many Facebook fans will you promise me?” “Can you get me 3,000 Twitter followers by next month?” Questions like these illustrate two issues: 1. business owners who don’t understand how social media works; and 2. an invitation to be hoodwinked by the less ethical in the field. Let’s examine the first issue in order to prevent falling for the second:
What do I want from my social media platforms?
Businesses maintain social media profiles for several reasons:
1. to build followings – Yes, numbers do matter. But the way we build those numbers, and more importantly, the quality of those followers, matter more than the mere numbers. Ask any business owner with a successful social media presence what he/she prefers: a large number of fans who are invisible on the page except for their places in the fan count; or a smaller number of fans who spend lots of time on the page, interacting, asking and answering questions and being brand advocates. Hint: ranking systems take much more notice of page activity than of fan counts. In fact, high fan counts with little or no activity can actually work against rankings.
2. to foster client relationships – I shudder when I see business profile pages configured to prevent fans from posting to them. That defeats the entire purpose of social media! Businesses build loyal followings and strong referrals by interacting in a social manner with their clients and prospects. That means more than just one way posting of news and product/service pitches. Businesses that maintain consistent presences, actively listening, engaging in dialogues, welcoming and promptly addressing customer service issues show the online world how attentive and concerned they are for the satisfaction of their clients. There is no purpose for having profiles if this activity is prevented.
I find most businesses that configure their pages to prevent interaction do so to avoid negative postings. But dealing quickly with such issues turns negatives into huge positives. Here’s another point to consider: there really isn’t a way to prevent irate folks from complaining about companies on the internet. There are plenty of other outlets available for them to use. Wouldn’t it be better to have these folks bring their issues directly to those companies – where other fans can see them resolved quickly by business owners who really care for their clients?
3. to drive sales – Businesses ultimately maintain social media presences to achieve their unified goal: driving sales. The quickest way to stifle this goal is to broadcast constant pitches. People use social media to be social, not to be sold to. Hence, this goal is accomplished by sharing great value that benefits fans and followers, and again, by encouraging and participating in conversations, listening attentively and showing genuine concern for their satisfaction. Getting to know prospects and clients in this manner yields the benefit of identifying their readiness to make purchases. Messages and activities can be fine tuned to each level of preparedness. All these undertakings unleash the power of social media to guide clients and prospects down sales funnels to successful transactions.
Gaming the system
The power of social media marketing is unleashed when it is done correctly. Business owners who comprehend all that needs to be undertaken also understand the fact that it is a slow, steady process. It takes much time and effort to build solid relationships that yield trust, loyalty and brand evangelism. Anyone who comprehends these facts also realizes promises of 3,000 Twitter followers or 1,000 Facebook fans in one month are pure folly. At best falling for these claims won’t improve business at all; at worst a sudden swell in numbers without accompanying interaction will work against the business’ page ranking. It’s always best to remember the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race.” Think marathon, not sprint.
Are you harnessing the true power of social media marketing? Which best practices are you employing to build trust and loyalty among your fans and followers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!