Off my beaten path of news sources, I read a great article that ended on a sad note. The first four (4) of Avery Wilmer's five (5) tips are true, in the general sense, and we agree on the fact that a community should be hungry for your products. It is really a good article. In my experience, however, building a social media community for 'sales first' rarely creates a community of long-term advocates. A social media manager hired to 'push numbers', particularly in terms of revenue, may yield short-term results, but will work harder to get sustainable community.
Following versus Community
A social media following built for 'sales', rather than 'community', is the reason many clients come in frustrated. You need to optimize your time online. Sales-based following: you do all of the leg-work only to have followers buy once, become inactive and not spread the word. Community: advocates do a lot of that work for you, from buying to sharing and engaging. Social media for business has to be about building the right community first - that's what social media was designed for - sales, referrals, donations, partnerships come as a result of that.
Social Media Strategy
Personal Branding Blog (Business2Community.com) wrote on content management and engagement, which are core to building relevant, sustainable community on social media. They offered tips you can implement readily, whether you're managing your own social media or outsourcing to a consultant. For a community that evolves and behaves in a way that complements your business needs, however, nothing beats a sound social media strategy. Know, at least:
- The gaps social media can close for your business
- The tools, training and resources you need to close those gaps
- The metrics relevant to you that must be monitored to continuously refine performance
This gets you past counting "Likes" and "Followers" without knowing what this means for your end goals.
Community for Business
Your goals in business, even without social media, will include building a network of people that will bring you business - a community - from suppliers to partners and customers. Sales, referrals, donations, partnerships - all benefit from people you've connected with, who want to share the 'good news' about you. Social media is the same. It's about the network, the online community, and it's reach that goes well beyond what your social media manager can do on his/her own.
Best Use of Your Time
Remember, using tools as they were intended to be used - from a screwdriver or a car to social media - is the best way to maximize the value you get from them. If you're using social media for something other than community, you'll never get to your yield on Pareto's 80/20 Principle. Let 20% of your time bring in 80% of your business.