Understanding Social Media

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Too many small business owners want to get involved in social media but – sadly – do not understand the intent, ideas, or influence factors that make social media an effective tactic in their overall marketing arsenal.

I believe there are six key misconceptions, faulty assumptions and pillars of goofy thinking that prevent most business owners and professionals from generating maximum results from their social media marketing efforts. They are:

  1. “I, me, my” syndrome
  2. Dumbing it down
  3. Information without invitation
  4. Over-selling
  5. Talking without action
  6. Short-term focus

Let’s take a look at each of these six mistakes in a little more detail.

I, me, my syndrome. Your social media postings don’t need to be all about you. In fact, if all you talk about is your company, your brand, your products and your services, people will ignore you, tune you out and dismiss you. Experts promote other experts. Experts aren’t insecure about shining the spotlight on others. Experts are curators and point out the cool things. Experts invite other experts to post guest blogs on their websites (and they, in turn, get invited to do the same). Experts share, collaborate and crosspromote with other experts with a genuine abundance mindset and not a scarcity mindset. The mantra goes even beyond “give to get”—rather it’s “give to give.”

As long as you can be counted on to share interesting, relevant, valuable, sometimes even edgy content, guide your followers to the good stuff online, and position yourself as a reliable guide and sherpa in your area of expertise, you’ll get plenty of attention and respect—even more so if you’re not forever focused on hyping only yourself and your business. Grow up, step up, be a real expert and understand once and for all it’s not about you.

Dumbing it down. This mistake comes from the fear that if you give away your best ideas, strategies, tools, tactics, insights and other secret sauces that you’ll somehow diminish the demand for your paid products and services. So you dumb it down. You post that second-rate article. You remove some detail from that tip sheet because you want people to buy your products and services and not do it themselves. You post the video that only has three of your 10 key ideas because if you gave all 10 ideas, they’d never hire you.

The reality is, it works 180 degrees the other way. The only way folks are going to pay you the big bucks is if they have a firsthand experience of your genius — if they feel it, taste it, touch it and fully experience it. Only then will they want more.

Imagine if the Rolling Stones forbid radio stations from playing their songs and pulled their music from online sites like Amazon and iTunes because they feared that if people can get the very same songs for 99 cents, they would never pay $300 to come see them live. When you put this scarcity thinking in the context of the music industry, you see exactly how ridiculously faulty this argument is!

Do you want to be shared or do you want to be scared? Your call, but you already know which answer will make you more money.

Information without invitation. Blogs and social media sites are not a dumping ground for your old brochures or articles that you could never get published. Even rock-solid, current, highly relevant information is necessary, but not sufficient to fuel your thought-leadership platform and build your empire as thought-leading small business.

An effective social media campaign will share information of standalone value and then invite a two-way conversation around that information. How? Simple. Ask questions, seek engagement and invite involvement. Offer value, seek opinions, spark conversations and ask the most powerful question in sales, leadership and relationships: “What do you think?”

Over-selling. Social media is not about posting: “Here’s how to buy my products.” It’s not about creating a bunch of sales pages for your products, services or programs. If your goals are to sell on Twitter, sell on Facebook, sell on LinkedIn and sell on YouTube, your results will be unfollow, unfriend, unlink and unsubscribe.

Content comes before commerce. Offer solutions, answers, strategies, templates, tools, and ideas—not sales messages. Why? Because you don’t live in an environment of voluntary attention. The age of outbound selling (random cold calling, batch-and-blast direct mail, buying ads and working hard to interrupt strangers) is broken. The new reality is first you earn their attention, then you earn their money.

Talking without action. The next mistake is leaving out a vital ingredient to your social media marketing efforts — a “call to action,” or CTA. Too many speakers, consultants and thought-leading professionals do almost everything right, but then leave their fans, followers and subscribers wondering what to do next.

People need to be told what to do next. If you want people to email you, explicitly invite them to do so, give them a compelling reason and provide your email address. If you want people to call you, use the same strategy. Invite the call and provide your phone number.

Short-term focus. The final mistake is to think of social media in the same way that you might think of outbound sales activity. Think about it: cold calls, email blasts, direct mail. Do those things and the natural question you’ll probably be asking yourself is: How much did I sell today? You made 100 dials, you connected with 20 humans, you had 14 conversations, you qualified five serious prospects, but how much did you SELL today?

Social media is about building relationships and trust. Relationships and trust don’t have an ON/OFF switch—they develop over time. Transactions happen today from relationships you built last week, last month and last year. The benefit of that, and the reason it’s worth the wait, is because social media gives you a permanent asset—trust.

Blog entries are forever. They continue to sell your expertise, your company and your value day after day, week after week, year after year. LinkedIn recommendations are forever. People that wrote glowingly of you in 2002 are still “selling” for you and your reputation today.

Sure, you have to sell today. You have to make your quota today. You have to feed your family today. But social media marketing helps you ensure that what you create once today works and lasts and brings customers and clients to you for many years to come. Not because you sold them, but because you built the trust and relationships that helped them buy today, tomorrow and beyond!

About David Newman 2 Articles
David Newman is a marketing speaker and founder of Do It! Marketing, a marketing strategy and “done-for-you” services firm dedicated to making thought-leading professionals more successful. Free resources including Newman’s 97-page Strategic Marketing eBook are available online at www.doitmarketing.com. Contact him directly at david@doitmarketing.com or call (610) 716-5984.

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