There’s a mindset among many business owners that they need to be on social media. Specifically, they need to be on Facebook; or Twitter; or LinkedIn; or have a blog; or look ahead to business options on Google Plus.
This is usually fostered by fly-by-night consultants and agencies who tap into the fear factor so many businesses have about social media, and use blinding statistics and numbers about these platforms, and why a business needs to be on them.
You get the usual soundbites, like Facebook is the equivalent of the third biggest country in the world; or Google Plus has the fastest adoption rate of new users across all social networks; or if you’re not blogging, you’re not reaching your audience.
But so what? All these numbers and stats are doing is taking a generic approach to social media.
The consultants and agencies peddling them are doing so because they know big numbers sound impressive, and that any business owner would be a fool to miss out on 750 million potential new customers on Facebook, or 20 million and counting on Google Plus, or any other millions of potential customers on other networks.
But, again, that’s being generic. And customers are anything but.
The Collective Individuals
Sure, you can segment customers into groups. For example, you might have a product that appeals to women between 25-45, with kids and a sporty lifestyle. Or you might attract gearheads. Or teenagers.
But they’re still individuals, even as part of a collective.
There’s no guarantee that a million sporty moms will all love the same product; or that 500 gearheads will all be tempted by your latest sale; or 1,000 teens will all want to see the same teen movie.
As consumers, we don’t work that way – so why would we approach our business strategy that way to attract our audience? Why would we think generically? Because we’re told that’s where the money is, according to the people with the awesome social media numbers?
Be Your Customer
If you’re a brick and mortar store, and you attract a very niche audience based on location and age, do you think having a generic blog is going to attract new customers?
If you’re a mom and pop business that sells classic 78 RPM vinyl, do you think a Facebook group full of teens talking about video games is going to work for you?
Yes, social media and a solid online presence can – and does – bring in new business. But that’s after research defines where that new business is, not because someone tells you that you could reach almost a billion potential customers simply by having an account.
Seriously, if it was that easy, we’d hear more success stories of how social media is the secret sauce, as opposed to digging in deep and finding out for ourselves what we need to be doing.
You’ve built your success up so far by being smart about your business – why would you want to stop now, just because someone shows you some bright lights and inflated sales potential?
Research. Learn how you can use the likes of Twitter and Facebook (and others) to find out if your audience is there for you and, if so, how you can get in front of them.
Plan. If you find your target audience is in a specific place, make sure you understand the platform and the different approaches on each one.
Strategy. Much like you wouldn’t offer a sale on meat to a vegan, look to use different strategies and promotions depending on the information and statistics your research finds.
Sure, numbers are great (despite what girls tell us guys, size does matter, or so I’m told).
But size only matters when it’s appropriate – make sure you’re not getting sucked in by size, when you should be looking at the overall package…
About the Author:
Danny Brown is co-founder and partner at the SRM Group, offering smart marketing and social media business solutions with a socially responsible twist.