I sense a gradual, one page at a time, engagement with social media for professional service firms and the wider business community.
I say “one page at a time” because I sense that no one is prepared to make a leap of faith and ditch their outboard marketing activity/programme in favour of a fully-fledged inboard programme.
Even though the book is being slowly read, I fear that the wrong pages are being read or in the wrong order.
Sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland:
“Consider your verdict,” the King said to the jury.
“Not yet, not yet!” the Rabbit hastily interrupted.
“There’s a great deal to come before that!”
You see nearly everyone that I talk to about social media, either in the context of professional services or local business, automatically starts the conversation with:
“How do I get on to Twitter”; or
“What’s the best way to get followers on LinkedIn”; or
“How do I make money out of Twitter”? (with just a hint of sarcasm thrown in…)
Now, these are very valid questions, but if social media is going to be transformative of a business (as I truly believe that it can), then much more needs to be done in developing a strategy built around a set of measurable outcomes – whether that is hits on a website, ebook downloads, webinar numbers, seminar numbers, referrals from LinkedIn or the like.
For me social media involves a radical overhaul of a company’s structure so that more of the internal as well as the external messaging is built around social communication (perhaps a better way of thinking about social media in this context).
So before you launch yourself into the mix, think about the planning process around developing your market, reaching out to a new market and growing the business.
If you are adroit at planning for the future then spending time on a social media strategy will not be remarkably different.
Here are some pointers to think about:
- What percentage of your clients or customers do you see being driven through social media engagement?
- How many new clients or customers do you want to attract using social media?
- Are there new sectors or new markets that you want to reach using social media?
- In what way will you hope to differentiate yourself in the market?
- How will social media achieve the differentiation?
- Do you have the expertise internally to drive the process?
- How much time/resource are you prepared to dedicate to developing an inboard strategy?
- Are you happy to spend time listening to your target audience?
- How will you engage with your audience?
- How will you measure ROI (if this is ever possible)?
- 11. Do you need to consider the cultural implications for the business?
- What effect will active social media engagement have on the brand?
The point is that you need to have a strategy so that you can apply a hindsight test and judge the effectiveness of your campaign.
The one thing to remember is that there is no formula, or certainly not one that I am aware of, which states that 2 + 2 = 4 in the context of using this platform , that application or these content rich words to hyper-inflate your efforts.
Each firm or company is different and you need to work out in advance the strategy that you intend to deploy and how you will judge your success. Obsessing now with this platform or that application just isn’t going to cut it. You will end up going stir crazy with the amount of unnecessary time you waste and as likely you will give up on social media as another fad.