The Social Media Decision: 3 Simple Categories

Social media is everywhere, and forward-thinking marketing professionals are taking note, asking:

  • What could social media do for my company?
  • How can I best implement this tool?

Some business leaders are jumping on the social media bandwagon without a clear plan.  But not you.  You want to do your research about social media before laying out valuable time and resources.  To offer some perspective, we’ve organized the concept of social media marketing into 3 categories.  Which one best represents you?

1.  DEFINITE FIT
If your product or service is recreational, creates excitement or updates frequently, social media is almost definitely a good fit for your company.  Some examples of businesses in this category would be clothing boutiques, entertainment venues, restaurants, museums, and amusement parks.  The devotion of your audience will determine how much effort is required to generate excitement, but selecting a venue (or venues) such as Facebook or Twitter and providing frequent updates and announcements should bring increases in sales, visits, referrals, and ongoing loyalty.  I would advise you to research your options and organize a plan strategically – and soon.

2.  TRIAL-RUN
For B2B companies, or those offering utilitarian products or services that do not naturally inspire excitement, a trial-run in social media may be the best option.  A clear plan and set objectives typically lead to better results. Companies who have forayed into social media and assessed the benefits are seeing mixed results, as customers tend to be less interested in a social connection with their accounting professional or window manufacturer.  On the other hand, a look at supply chain solution provider Kinaxis offers an example of the use of humor in making an effective social connection with a prospective audience, and gaining significant results (See “The Definitive Case for B2B Social Media Marketing”).

The caution here is to not simply assume that social media isn’t relevant in your industry.  Take a closer look to determine whether it could be a useful tool.  Decide on your goals, take note of the successes of companies like Kinaxis, and lay out a creative strategy for how you may be able to reach your audience through social media.  Weigh the costs of time and resources to select a good starting point.  Then test it out, measuring the results and evolving your strategy as necessary.  Some companies will score with social media and others won’t.  For now, you need to decide whether to be an innovator or to join the game late.

3.  NOT READY … YET
Just because you could do something, doesn’t mean you should. Social media is likely not right for you at this point if your company:

  • Has goals that will not currently – or soon – be assisted by social media
  • Lacks the time and resources to give full effort to a social media plan
  • Determines that the costs outnumber the likely benefits

If you decide that social media is not quite right for your business needs at this point, I would recommend re-visiting the question on a regular basis.

LOOKING AHEAD
A decade from now, a business which lacks a social media presence may be much like one lacking a website today. It stands to reason that companies are best-served when actively engaged with their customer base.  When considering your company’s long-term strategy, ask these questions:

  • How could social media benefit our company 5 years from now?  Ten years from now?
  • At what point in the future does it make most sense to make those connections, and with which audience(s)?
  • How can we make social media a good experience for our company and our customers?

Keep in mind that Facebook and Twitter are only the beginning of potential social media avenues for businesses, as new options and innovations are becoming more available and companies are creating their own social media venues.  Proverbs 24 (verse 3 and 4) notes that “Any enterprise built by wise planning becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.” Keep reading and watching to stay up-to-date on what is out there in the world of social media that may be well-suited to your business goals.

Author Bio: Steve Schmidt is a web marketing strategy expert at Effect Web Agency.  At Effect, his team’s experience spans from planning, design, development, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, and Social Media marketing to web analytics and web strategy evolution.

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