from dianafayt @ flickr

from dianafayt @ flickr

Too often people start with the tools of social media. They, and admittedly I do too,  suggest a tool or combination of tools within the first few minutes of getting an idea of what the client does. Perhaps we need to step back and deal with the general benefits of social media. Why would a company spend the mega millions I cost on consulting (Ha, yeah right) to have me tell them what to do or how to do it? It’s because I know how to make the tools fit their needs, not make them fit the tools.

What can social media do for your business?

  • drive traffic – more eyeballs looking at your website
    • increase exposure
    • reach otherwise unreached potential customer base
    • increase page rank ? – need others to chime in on this in the comments.
    • increase incoming links? Social networks put nofollow links, but others might link to you
  • handle customer service – meet people where they are complaining/talking about you or your keywords
    • hijack conversations
    • be more available to end users
  • spread message further
    • video, branding on line, story telling etc.
    • emotional connection
  • public relations
    • spin the news
    • deal with issues
    • tell the stories you can’t tell in a marketing piece

But how can this be good for your business?

  • more traffic
    • if your website does a good job converting viewers to customers, you will have an increase in customers
  • customer service
    • build better relations with your current and past customers, results will be better reviews on yelp.com or epinions.com
  • message spreading
    • brand recognition, speak to the folks at nike for proof here
  • pr
    • you’ll never know how helpful social media can be until your company is in the spot light and cannot speak loud enough or quickly enough to correct the errors.

When strategically entering social media be mindful of desired outcomes, of returns on those outcomes. Figure those out first then lets talk tools and which tool will help you achieve your desired business outcomes.

As a bonus lets look at what social media cannot do for your business

  • make you a genius
  • bring in 100x more customers overnight without sweat equity
  • make you go viral
  • prevent disasters
  • fix internal problems
  • fix bad website issues (usability, interface design, lack of content, coded poorly etc)
  • make you instantly famous and gain coverage on local or national tv (as a business, there have been individuals who have experienced this but it was more of a “the right place at the right time” )

Moral of the story: Choose an outcome then choose a tool. Not the other way around as some have been in the habit of doing.