I was invited by Kelly Glenn to speak about social media to the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Reno-Sparks program class last month. Presenting general social media concepts is a challenge because you never know how far along people are with adoption so you don’t know what they really need or want to know. What I came up with is three things to think about that most people, even those who are already heavily involved with social media communities, haven’t considered yet.
Who are you talking to?
Social media is all about interaction, for the most part, but it’s complicated. Are you talking to your customers or your friends? In a community as small as Reno and Sparks, they might be both. To further complicate things, we all have our proffessional and personal personas. How do we parse our interaction properly?
The Complex Option
The first way to figure out who you’re going to talk to on social media channels is to analytically figure out the makeup of your community. Forrester Research has a tool that can help you. The Forrester technographics profile tool gives you a rough estimate, based on minimal demographics data, of the online digital habits and preferences of your community.
The interesting thing to think about here is how the Forrester Technographics Ladder generally aligns with the Law of Diffusion of Innovation. As people adopt social media tools and become part of an online community, some are inherently going to participate more while others hold off. These states line up pretty well with the adoption curve described by the Law of Diffusion of Innovation. While one describes the natural differences in how new ideas are adopted, the other decribes the level to which people are actually active in them. Note: This concept really only applies a persons main rung on the Social Technographics Ladder, as they may participate in more than one.
Here’s a simple infographic that illustrates this point:
- Advantage: Lots of ways to segment your community and target your message
- Disadvantage: It’s an inexact science and you could be wrong
The Simple Option
Rather than figuring out who exactly you’re talking to, you could just think about what kind of relationship you’re going for. There are three basic relationship types that make up most of the social media community.
- Authority | Information, customer service, rules/regs
- government, police, Insurance/Financial
- wolfram Alpha
- Exchange| Deals, Specials, Price, Product, Promotion, Place….
- Communal| Give and take, greater good, helping without keeping score
- This is the rest of us
All things being equal, we all prefer to do business with people we know, like and trust. As such, being a part of a social media community, by focusing on the give-and-take of comunal relationships is a hugely effective way to get people to know, like and trust you. Also, many marketers try to run campaigns with social media. While campaigns can be effective, the community has to come first.
What are you going to talk about?
It doesn’t make the task of creating social media content any easier to say that content is king, but it’s the most important element of your online marketing strategy. To become part of the community your content needs to reinforce you brand by being
- Be honest
- Be yourself
- don’t hide who you are and what your interests are
- don’t be afraid to have fun
The reality is that these two things are a moving target. As your business goals, moods, real life preferences, current events change and evolve, what you think and share will change. Not to mention the fact that social media evolved as a social exchange that dealt with our drinking habits, what we had for breakfast and who we “engaged” with; it was all party. Then came business. Now everyone is party AND business. The community understands that people are complex and will accept all kinds of content as long as they feel is is what you really believe and who you really are.
The important part is to find your voice. Your voice will drive relationships which drives interaction. Interaction is the fulfillment of a social media community. The total is how you build both your personal and business brand and add value to the community.
How do you measure it?
If you take the care and effort to go about social media interaction strategically, you also want to try to get feedback on how the community sees you. There are some plug-and-play tools to give you numbers like Klout.com and Facebook Insights, these are important for quantifying your place in the community. But they aren’t perfect and they leave a lot out. Things that you only get by paying attention and being engaged.
Basically, businesses track how much money they spend, how much they make and how satisfied their customers are. Social Media really can’t help you with the hard-cost ROI numbers you want for business. But what it can do is give you a clear picture of how happy your customers are and how your brand is viewed in the community.
There are also some things you have to accept:
- If people are consistently saying bad things about you, it’s probably the truth.
- If people are saying good things about you, pay attention to how those things align with your brand promise
- Do they understand your value?
- Do you understand the reality of how your brand is perceived?
- Do you need to change your communication strategy or your brand promise?
This is how you get people to know, like and trust you. Becoming a part of a community is the basis for understanding social media ROI. To think about it in business terms, It’s the social media conversion funnel.
- Know | Awareness
- Like | Consideration & Purchase
- Trust | Advocacy
It’s not all about sales. Becoming part of the community is a matter of selling yourself as a person other people should connect with more than selling a product.
This post is more a conversation starter than a social media primer. The fact is that the space is fluid and there are few hard and fast rules. So what do you do to be a part of a social media community?