I love the recent discussions happening on the social waves as they are getting to the heart of social business. The hard questions are starting to be asked.

  • How are the Facebook likes benefiting me and my business?
  • Should I worry about quality of followers or not?
  • Is it unethical to buy followers?
  • Is it unethical to stuff a social media profile just to show up top of a search engine?
  • Why am I doing social media?
  • Should I integrate social media into the DNA of our business?
  • Should I continue to let the intern or recent college grad with no business experience run our entire business strategy execution?
  • Why aren't people talking to me on Twitter?
  • Why does my Facebook page look like a dry desert?
  • Why does everyone like my Facebook page but then never comes back?
  • Why won't anyone talk to me on the social networks, period?
  • Why can't I get my CEO to understand we can't make our Twitter tweet stream look like our old 1987 piece of marketing collateral?
  • What results am I driving?
  • Are my followers, fans, connections even the people who give a rip about what I have to offer? Will they ever buy from me?
  • Am I ever going to see real benefit from social media?

Have you asked yourselves these question? If you have, you are not alone. They are the right questions. However, they are only a small subset of the questions that must be asked. Keep reading…

I am going to tell you a very direct message so take it or leave it. If you are struggling with all of the questions above that's fine and that's normal. However, below are the questions you should first be asking. The set of questions above are all focused on you, you and more you. They're all about what can YOU get out of social media. What about the people who YOU want to click like, follow, comment, buy from you. What is it they need?

social business successThe questions you should be asking:

  • Why should they like your Facebook page?
  • Why should they ever come back to your Facebook page after the initial like?
  • Why should they add you to a Twitter list and actively follow your stream?
  • Why should they subscribe to your RSS blog feed?
  • Why should they retweet your blog content?
  • Why should they retweet or respond to your tweet to them?
  • Why should they visit your blog or website in the first place?
  • Why should they follow you on Pinterest?
  • Why should they accept your connection request on LinkedIn?
  • Why should they open your email newsletter?
  • What value are you offering them to inspire them to do any of the above?
  • How are you helping them achieve their business goals and objectives?
  • What is in it for them, not you?

If you are not asking the second set of questions and don't care to ever answer them then you might as well turn in your social keys now as you are not going to see real results.

Your goal is not to fit your business inside Facebook.

If you are only focused on how you can take your current business model, current services and stuff them in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your blog then you are destined to fail.  Your must instead focus on how can you integrate social media into the DNA of your business. You must also focus on how your business model must adapt to better leverage and benefit from social media. Every business goal and objective can not necessarily benefit from social media. You must select business goals and objectives where social media can have the greatest impact.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

social business goal integration and alignmentIf you are not planning you are setting your self up to fail. You must take the time to:

  • Develop an integrated plan inclusive of both online and offline marketing, sales and business activities.
  • Set strategic goals and objectives.
  • Establish a system for measurement with key focus on achievable and realistic goals.
  • Slow down to speed up. You have been left out of social media for this long, an extra 30, 60 or 90 or more days is not going to put you out of business.
  • Create a “what I am NOT going to do” list. Every business tells us “we don't have time for social media.” Nope, you don't and that is why you must make time. Crossing things OFF the list is how you integrate social media into your business. If you don't do such then are simply putting your existing broken business into Facebook.
  • Know that it is not about the next big thing.
  • Develop and make available compelling, unique and relevant content that will inspire your audience and help them achieve their objectives.
  • Assess risks and develop a plan for mitigation.
  • Get in the head of your audience and understand their needs.
  • Do the research to understand what platforms your audience is hangin' out on, what they are talking about, and how you can engage and have a relevant conversation with them.
  • Accept that your initial assumptions of social media, your audiences could be 100% off base. Moving forward with Plan B is not failure, it is a movement toward success.
  • Acknowledge that it is what happens after the Facebook like that matters more than the number of people who like your page.
  • Know how your business maps to the needs of your audience. How will your services help them achieve their goals? You must get specific here.
  • Know your brand story. Who are you? What are you? What do you offer? Why should they care you exist?
  • Check out this video we put together for the launch of our new agency, Marketing Nutz. It summarizes what we believe the heartbeat of social media is now and forever.

interruption marketingYou can't fake it until you make it.

If you are only focused on the first set of questions I provided at the top of this blog post your audience is going to know it. If your business model is to sell events, training seats, or whatever it may be and you only use social media as a communication platform to blast the same messages, advertisements about your events, people are going to tune you out. You could easily wind up hurting your objectives more than helping.

Even though your business is just now getting on Facebook, remember there are 900 million people already on Facebook. They've been engaging, talking, following, liking and ignoring brands on Facebook for many years now. They are getting smarter to the brands who are in it for the right reasons and the brands who are in it for the wrong reasons.

Slow down to speed up! 

social business planning successWe work with businesses of all sizes, helping them figure out how to tread the social business waters. We help them set goals, do the research and establish a plan that will inspire and connect their audiences to them in a genuine way. We have clients that have literally waited up to to two years before engaging heavily in social media. It wasn't that they weren't getting their feet wet or that we weren't busy behind the scenes preparing.

The fact is after we started to peel back the layers within the DNA of their business they realize their business was not ready for social media. Their mindset may have been off. They don't have the proper measurement systems in place. Or could be there is so much change management that must be done that it is better to focus on the social business preparedness above sending 100 tweets a day.

Anyone can build a Facebook page or hop on Twitter. Before long, almost all businesses will be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It will soon be far from a differentiator. The only thing that will differentiate you from the noise and crowd is and will continue to be the value you offer those within your tweet stream, Facebook pages, offline circles, businesses and life.

Your goal should be to make new friends. 

The days of interruption marketing are ending. You can't bust into their Facebook page and expect them to move all attention to you and your needs. You are first going to have to earn their trust and inspire them to connect with you. The more you can be relevant and earn their trust by them knowing that your top objective is to help them meet their objectives, the quicker you are going to earn their friendship.

Inspire your audiences to connect with you. Nurture and build real relationships built on trust. Help them achieve their goals. By default you will achieve yours if you first focus on the needs of your audiences. Inspire – Connect – Achieve!

Don't just do social, or be social, be relevant! 

What you say? 

Are you focused on yourself or your audience? Can you honestly state you are genuinely relevant to your audiences, fans, followers, community on the social platforms? Are you focusing on their goals? If you are please feel free to share tips for others. What have you seen from other brands? What inspires you after the Facebook like? What inspires you to connect with brand, people and communities?


Heartbeat of Social Media Series

heartbeat of social mediaThis blog post is part of a new series titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!

I'll be hosting a free “Facebook for Business” as well as “Rock Your Blog” webinar with focus on social media optimization which will deep dive into some of the topics discussed in this post. Subscribe to the series for updates and early invitations.

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Social Media Tools & Tech: 15 Tips Not to Lose Your Mind

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Upcoming Social Media Training Webinars