Part 5: The Truth about Social Media (you might not like this)

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OK, welcome back & let´s consider the truth about social media. Now some people will tell you that Social Media is the next big thing. Others will say it already is the big thing. Others say it is just a flash in the pan. So what does Social Media mean for you and your business? We are not going to pull any punches here. Failure to understand Social Media and develop a credible Social Media strategy for your business could be one of the biggest risks that your business faces. Sorry for being blunt but the fact is that businesses that fail to ‘get’ social media need to be prepared to struggle at best in the coming years – it is as simple and as stark as that. That is the bad news. We said you might not like it, but it is really important that you understand this point. But we don’t want to dwell on the negatives, so let’s move on to the good news! The good news is that if you have set up a blog on your website or are planning to based on the previous training then you are already well on your way to mastering social media. Also, please refer to the detailed pdf workbook below which provides detailed templates that you can use to implement your social media strategy.

What IS Social Media Exactly?

Let’s put Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and all of the other tools aside for now. Let’s go back to basics. In our book “The Lazy Website Syndrome” we stated that: “Your online reputation matters and this manifests itself in your blog. It is like life. If you care about your reputation then people will come to know and trust you.”

Another Perspective on Social Media

This is what Social Media boils down to when you strip away all of the tools and paraphernalia. Social Media is your ability to attract people to you long enough for them to know, like and trust you. If you can achieve this then everything else will fall into place.

Hunting vs Harvesting

A good analogy to help you understand the effect of Social Media is to think of it as being as different from more traditional marketing media as hunting is from harvesting. Whereas hunting is an unpredictable, high risk, high energy, low return activity, harvesting is predictable, low risk, low energy & with a high return way. So whereas in the old days (& by this I mean the 20th Century), advertising was all about getting the message out from the ‘top down’ (Buy Our Products!!!), the internet and especially Social Media have turned the tables in favour of us, the consumer. Nowadays it isn’t necessarily who shouts the loudest (e.g. print advertising, flyers, billboards, cold calling, radio and television adverts), but who engages us best as these will be the companies who will succeed. This is the essence of Social Media. It is sometimes referred to as inbound marketing or permission marketing. If you are not being recommended at some point then your business is at risk & the companies that ‘get’ this will succeed at the expense of those that don’t. You see, Social Media is just a range of techniques supported by a set of tools that can dramatically accelerate this process of recommendation (or criticism). Nothing more and nothing less. It is not some kind of magic wand that you can wave over your business.

Social Media has a Big “S” & a small “m”

The point here is that you should think of Social Media as having a big ‘S’ and a small ‘m’. What I mean is try to focus on the human aspects and less on all of the shiny social media toys. In this part of our training you will learn how to do that.

What Can Social Media Do For You?

Can you answer YES to some or all of these questions: I would like to be viewed as a go to person in my market or niche I want to be respected by my peers and my customers I want to be able to engage more closely with potential customers and existing customers I want to ensure that my company and my products or services are considered as the first choice in my customers’ minds I want to be able to reach new audiences and allow them to discover more about my business 24*7 and in a format they feel comfortable with I want to find similar minded partners and suppliers and work with them I want people to consider me to be a trusted and valued source of valuable information and insight I would like my existing customers to recommend my company to their network of friends and colleagues I would like to develop a network of contacts who I can work with and develop mutually beneficial relationships If you did (to all or any of these points) then you are now able to understand where Social Media fits in to your plans.

Social Media Profiles

In our book The Lazy Website Syndrome we identified several Social Media Profiles. It is vital that you first identify your Social Media Profile before planning your Social Media plan. To re-cap, the Social Media Profiles are:

  • Local Hero
  • Local Hub
  • Host
  • Coach
  • Niche
  • Player

These profiles are guidelines only, but in our experience most small to medium sized businesses will be able to find a category that most closely matches them. Let’s quickly run through them.

Local Hero

You are a small local business serving the local community and some business customers. You operate within a 5 to 10 mile radius of your workplace or home. You are usually a Sole Trader or Family Business and will usually be a Limited Company. Examples would be plumber, Vet, gardener, and so on.

Local Hub

You provide business products or services to your local community. You do not sell to the public, only business to business. You offer services within a limited geographic area which in some cases can be throughout your county. You are not a national company. Examples would be accountant, IT services company, etc..

Host

You are an independent company with your own premises operating in the hospitality, lifestyle, health, beauty, fitness or entertainment industry. You are not typically part of a franchise although if you are then you are responsible for your own marketing. Your customers tend to be locally based or can be national or international in some cases such as hotels. Your customers are a mix of the general public and business customers. Examples would be an independent hotel, bed and breakfast, beauty salon, hairdresser and so on.

Coach

You are a professional providing coaching or consultation services primarily to businesses and in some cases individuals. You are mobile and you can operate on a local, regional, national and international level if required. You may have several colleagues to support you. Examples would be Corporate Training, Life Coach & Business Coaching or Mentoring.

Niche

You are a business offering products or services over the internet. You are usually a reseller and do not have a large warehouse or hold a huge amount of stock. You could be selling services that can be electronically delivered. You have an ecommerce website to take online payments. Your customers tend to be nationwide although you can sell to overseas clients. Examples would be IT hardware, online jewellery store or an eCommerce business.

Player

You are an individual who has earned the reputation as the ‘go-to’ person in your industry or market. You are a successful business owner and whilst you are not a household name you may have many hundreds or even thousands of business clients. You may offer physical products, services, digital products, motivational, speaking or consultancy services. Your customers will be spread out across the country and your reputation is international. You are an author and speaker. People will pay to listen to your opinions. How did you get on? Do you recognise yourself? If you didn´t find an exact match, don’t worry too much, just try to see the profile that best describes your situation. Now that you have your profile, let´s consider your Social Media Role. Once we have this we will give you some examples to illustrate how you can use Social Media for your business. So now that you have your Social Media Profile we can start to develop your social media plan & the next step is to understand your social media role.

Local Hero

Let’s start with our Local Hero… Your Social Media Role is to demonstrate your skill, your knowledge and the high quality of your work. Your aim is to become the ’go-to’ person in your community for your particular skill. Central to your success is your ability to generate referrals from satisfied clients. You will use Social Media to showcase your work, possibly with ‘before and after’ examples using images or video where appropriate. This will allow you to reach out to the friends and contacts of your customers both past and present. You can create a really engaging social media plan using Videos, hints & tips, expert blog, testimonials, etc. In terms of tools a smartphone for videos & a blog & a youtube account will be fine. For platform specific ideas check out the accompanying workbook.

Local Hub

Next up is our Local Hub… As a Local Hub your Social Media Role is to ensure that you are a central facilitator for your business clients. You will continually offer them high quality and relevant information. You will have a good understanding of their business and as a Local Hub you will use this knowledge to identify opportunities for them and promote them whenever possible. You will use Social Media to keep your customers up to date on key industry trends and insights. You will also use it as part of an effort to ‘ring-fence’ your clients by ensuring that you are more than just a supplier. This could be by offering seasonal promotions, offering awards/prizes or by arranging networking events. In terms of the tools that you will need, you could either hire a Videographer from time to time or build your own video kit (you’ll need a HD video camera, 3 point lighting set, white background, lapel microphone). If you want to make videos via your PC then you will need an HD Webcam, Digital USB Studio Condenser Microphone, Skype, Skype Recording Software & if you want to do screen capture videos the you will need some Screen Capture software. Now, I know that sounds a lot, but once you get into the swing of it, it is relatively straightforward. Try to avoid making the videos too polished though. It is the content that people are after not studio quality production. For platform specific ideas check out the accompanying workbook.

Host

Let’s move on to our Host As a Host, your Social Media Role is to ensure that your facilities are considered as the destination of choice in your area. You will use social media to ensure that you maintain contact with customers past and present to develop long term relationships with them and to be referred to your customers´ network. You will look to identify appropriate Local Hubs and other (non-competing) Hosts with the intention of offering incentives, discounts, packages, joint offerings and seasonal offers to your customers. Your Social Media Role is also to create a Buzz around your business. You will identify local events and attractions and ensure that you feature heavily in these wherever possible. You will host ‘taster’ events for Local Hubs to showcase what you have to offer with clearly defined follow up offers for their customers. In short, your Social Media Role as a Host is to be the destination of choice for your customers. In terms of your toolset, try to use video as much as possible. Again it doesn’t need to be over produced, but a good quality HD camera & 3 point lighting will give your videos the edge. For platform specific ideas check out the accompanying workbook.

Coach

OK, so let’s move on to our Coach As a Coach your Social Media Role is to be your customer´s expert of choice in your chosen field. You aim to ensure that your customers are up to date and compliant in your field of expertise. As a respected professional you have developed relationships with many complementary, non-competing coaches and you can draw on their expertise when required. Your Social Media Role will involve offering high quality, free information to your clients and prospects in digital and printed formats. You will be working on or have published a book. You will also use Social Media to reach out to fellow Coaches to create Joint Venture offerings. You aim to become a Player within 1 year. As with the Local Hub, video will play a significant role for you so you will need to hire a Videographer occasionally or better still invest in some video kit (HD video camera, 3 point lighting set, white background, lapel microphone), HD Webcam, Digital USB Studio Condenser Microphone, Skype, Skype Recording Software, Screen Capture software. As you need to keep up to date with news in your field of expertise you should use an RSS Aggregator (to save time) like feedly.com Now I know that sounds a lot, but always remember that your competitors won’t be doing this so this is your chance – go for it!! (that is my motivational coaching speech BTW). For platform specific ideas check out the accompanying workbook.

Niche

Next up is our Niche As a Niche, you are regarded as the supplier of choice by your customers. They value the choice, value for money and convenience that you offer. If they need something from you they expect to be able to locate it, order it and receive it in the shortest possible timeframe. You will use Social Media to keep in contact with your existing customers and to keep you in mind when they need new products or services. New product releases, demonstrations, comparisons, competitions, seasonal offers and discounts will all be part of your social media role. Social Media will allow you to get recommendations for your products and services from your customers as they introduce you to their online circle of friends. You can also engage with them to ask them questions which will help to raise awareness of your brand but also to get vital customer feedback and input. You can also use Social Media to identify new suppliers, partners and distributors. Social Media will also give you the opportunity to take part in online discussions regarding your niche so that you can establish yourself as the ‘go to’ expert on the subject. This will play a vital role in raising your company profile. Again, video will play a significant role for you so you will need to hire a Videographer occasionally or better still invest in some video kit (HD video camera, 3 point lighting set, white background, lapel microphone), HD Webcam, Digital USB Studio Condenser Microphone, Skype, Skype Recording Software, Screen Capture software. As you need to keep up to date with news in your field of expertise you should use an RSS Aggregator (to save time) like feedly.com For platform specific ideas check out the accompanying workbook.

Player

OK, finally we have the Player As a Player, Social Media will prove to be one of the most powerful tools available to you. As head of your online community you are a respected individual. Your opinion matters and you have the power to influence the behaviour of your followers. As well as a ‘thought leader’ your Social Media Role is to identify and partner with other Players in Joint Venture (JV) activities. Typically this will be to cross promote your products, services or events. Social Media will also provide your followers with a chance to get the inside track on a wide range of areas whether specific to your area of knowledge or to share some personal moments. Video will be your primary source of content supported by in depth white papers or ebooks. In terms of tools, by this stage you shouldn’t worry as people will come to you fully prepared.

Next Up…How to Get All Of This Done

OK, so in the final part of your Training we show you how to get all of this done.

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