There are leaders and then there are followers. Generally the idea is to be the former.
But perhaps it's worth a shot to look at this phrase the other way around. Maybe to be a leader, it's worth being a follower.
The people who lead the way with awesome ideas and unique talents did so by acquiring knowledge and applying it in new and interesting ways. We all need to learn stuff to lead stuff. And those who do it best inspire others to act.
They are Thought Catalysts. Here they are as told by the keynoters giving us lightbulb moments from The Art Of.
The use of social media by marketers is put under the same scrutiny of any marketing vehicle: Your senior executives (the C-Suite) want to know what the return on investment (ROI) of each initiative will be. It’s true, in an economy still recovering from the most recent recession; Marketers have to be smart about where they invest their limited budgets and ensure they get the most “bang for their buck”.
But the mentality of your company’s C-Suite towards social media needs to change. Using social isn’t just about generating an ROI (although it’s nice and IS possible), it should be about building brand equity, brand advocates and even positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry; it all depends on what your company hopes to achieve from using it.
So what are your goals?
All too often companies set out on the social media bandwagon without clear goals or direction. They do it simply because everyone else seems to be doing it too. If your executives are asking about the ROI from social, how can they expect to achieve one from a tactic with no strategy behind it?
Ensure everyone in your organization is on the same page about your goals and what the right strategy is for your company. Some goals might be:
· Position your company as a thought leader
· Provide a customer service portal
· Engage with brand advocates and build trust
· Get in front of the people asking questions about related products/services
· Build brand equity and loyalty
Once you’ve defined your goals, lay the groundwork to reach them by determining which social media platforms will help you reach your goals, what topics you will talk about on the platforms, who will manage your initiatives and who you will engage with.
And yes, you will need to determine how you will measure the effectiveness of your campaigns; because even a goal of increasing brand loyalty will need to be measured in some way. But do not get trapped in promising your executives that you will generate x amount of new leads per month from social media; rather go back to your original goals (brand equity, thought leadership) and focus on the “soft sell” approach to achieve these goals.
Why not focus on ROI?
Although we don’t recommend solely focusing on selling over your social media channels to our clients that’s not to say you can’t sell. Just do it softly.
Social media is a communication tool that naturally developed on today’s Web 2.0 platforms and allows mass communication like never before between people all over the world. As we’ve seen recently, it’s how the masses organize and cause change in society. Old school corporations that are used to controlling the media and the masses no longer have the power they once had. Now, the people have the power and the people can see through any nonsense distributed online. The masses no longer have to listen to corporations pushing messaging because they can simply turn off or un-follow their notifications. This is the beauty of social media and every marketer should keep this in mind when interacting with followers and fans – push too much and you’ll drive your followers and fans away. Sincerely interact and provide meaningful content to your followers and they will thank you by being brand advocates and ultimately become loyal customers.
How to do the Soft Sell
There are people out there asking questions about the products and services you offer. Do not simply start recommending your product (the hard sell) right off the bat. If you do, your credibility will be tarnished and people will stop listening.
Build the relationship
Instead, focus on building a relationship with the person. Ask about the features and benefits they are looking for and then really get to know the needs of your “potential” customer. Use a tool such as search.twitter.com or Hootsuite to determine who on which social networks is asking questions about products and services that your company provides and then start interacting with them.
Go in for the soft sell
Once a solid relationship is built and trust is established go in for the sell! But do it softly by suggesting a product you know will help meet their particular needs. This can be a product you provide – or – a product offered by one of your competitors. Scary, yes, but you’ll build more trust and loyalty from your followers.
In summary, social media can be a powerful selling tool that can help increase leads and sales but there is a correct way of doing this. Utilize social media for what it was created for – communicating – and nurture the social relationship with your followers and fans first; and then promote your products – softly.
If you want to know more about The Art Of and any of its brands, ask your questions here.