Social Media: ‘Face it’

by John Coupland on December 29, 2012

Social media is prolific today. Nearly everywhere you go, someone’s talking about it. Business people are frequently invited to events, meetings and exhibitions either directly related to social media marketing or which have at least some relevance to it. It’s likely these gatherings have been driven by at least some kind of social networking activity too.

Go on Twitter and, depending on how many people you may be following, where do you start? It certainly can be a noisy place, however so can the off-line world. Traffic, parking, or cutting through the crowds on public transport to get to your destination – and what about using your laptop, smartphone or tablet en-route? Pretty incessant, isn’t it?

I’m a business owner too. Just because my chosen business is social media marketing, it doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from the challenges you face. I totally relate to how the busy entrepreneur feels about being ‘pulled from pillar to post’.

Social media, despite its potential benefits, can be incredibly disruptive. I feel many – even in my own industry – overlook this and simply tell you that it’s a must-have. A recent survey, carried out by a marketing company, Vertical Response, found that nearly half (43%) of small businesses are spending at least 6 hours a week on social media. That’s almost a fifth of an average working week and at what cost? What about the impact on all the other channels to market? It cannot surely be just about social media?

How about that all important face-to-face communication? Where does that fit in to your marketing plans and how are you using social media to support it?

There are no end of blogs and articles from all corners informing us all about the importance of social media marketing today. ‘Do this, do that. Don’t do that, do this!’, etc.  Noise, more noise and even more noise? If you think it’s loud already, think again. This is only the start.

So how does one cut through all this incessant noise?

Whether or not you’re a novice to social media, this applies to all of us. No one escapes, unless you give up on it completely. I hope not.  (The giving up thing is no joke. If you haven’t yet noticed the numbers of dead twitter accounts, company pages on LinkedIn, or similar, you will. Do you think those who started there have given up? How does that look to you from a PR perspective? No-one’s in anymore?)

Nothing can beat face-to-face communication. Use social media to support it. Not the other way around.

[© Drawing by Stephanie Coupland] 

With nearly two decades of multi award winning e-business experience – and having survived the dotcom boom and bust last century, I’ve seen all this excitement before. (Some would even call it hype – depending which way one looks at it, they could well be right). However, social media is here to stay and only those who treat social media marketing, by merging the off-line with the on-line effectively are going to reap the benefits and realise a continuous return on investment.

My view is many – however not all – businesses who are active on social media are treating this great communication and marketing medium as if was transaction driven internet marketing. 

What’s the difference and what do I mean?

Briefly, transaction driven internet marketing is more akin to achieving the objective of making a sale on-line. It’s most appropriate to commodity-based items such as CDs and books amongst many other products, for example, where price is a key driver for the purchaser to make the transaction.

On the other hand, social media is more about business relationship building. Basically, off-line networking, on-line. For service-led businesses in particular, it’s not about commodity, it’s about people. You’re more than likely to have heard the well known expression: ‘People buy people’.

Whilst all the noise continues, the other crucial element to all of this is to have a methodology which is clear, time efficient, and may easily apply to all the main social networks you decide to use for your business. (Don’t forget time is the biggest enemy of busy business owners and entrepreneurs. It happens to be social media’s biggest enemy too, so I encourage you to apply a ‘Less is more’ approach.)

Sitting behind a screen and looking busy is not going to cut it.

I have coached and trained many on effective social media marketing and can tell you that most were usually simply being passive beforehand, hoping that somehow it’ll all click. Well maybe, but when – and ever considered that the social media savvy Y-Generation, (those who were born during the age of the internet), are now entering your market? I can assure you that they’re hungry to grab a nice ‘slice of the pie.’ Are you going to wait and see what happens? Now’s the time to outsmart them and many others by truly putting people first, whilst applying your extensive business experience which the Y-Gens still lack.

At this time of year, chances are – in between relaxing with your loved ones – you’re probably thinking about your plans for your business next year. Maybe you’re drawing up a fresh business plan, or even revisiting it? How is social media, with face-to-face marketing, going to fit in your plans and, more importantly, how will you cut through the incessant hype and noise to achieve return on investment? How will you measure your activities to decide what works for your business and replicate it in other areas?

So, with social media marketing – ‘face it‘; work smart and, whatever you decide to do, here’s wishing you every success for the new year and beyond!

John Coupland is the author of  ACCELerate™ Your Social Media.

@networkerplus Social Media

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

maria December 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Good food for thought John, and it’s true that there’s lots of ‘noise’ in social media.
I’m finding your book -Accelerate your social media- quite an eye-opener, too, and started making notes and highlighting a few points.

I wish your book had been around when I first launched into business… it would have saved me from making quite a few mistakes.

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John Coupland January 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thanks Maria and glad to hear you’re finding my book useful.

A successful new year to you.

John

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