May 7 2014, 3:46pm CDT | by Forbes
Everyone is scrambling to get on the social media bandwagon. Huge corporations and small mom & pop outfits now have Facebook profiles; the easiest way to get your lost luggage back from the airline is via twitter. It’s a mad rush to find and exploit the most profitable social media platforms.
And like most gold rushes, the people who are really going to get rich are the ones selling pickaxes and bacon. Sure, a few will strike the mother lode, but the real winners here are the platforms themselves (along with the people who market to the platforms for all of those corporations and small businesses).
I’m not saying that social media is worthless. Far from it! But what I’m really saying is that the heart of marketing will always remain the same, no matter what the mechanism is. It’s still all about connection.
These are the 5 simple guidelines I use to keep myself on track:
Marketing is about connecting with the people who are, or will become, your customers. This hasn’t changed since the first sales letter was written in cuneiform on a clay tablet in Babylon.
Because behind each of those profiles, handles, and screen names is a real, live human being with the same wants, needs, passions, and desires as any human from 10, 20, or 100 years ago. Your job is to connect with them, show them that they can trust you, and then make their life better in a way that results in profit for your company. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting your time.
The great strength of social media is in its interactivity. Unlike TV ads, print media, email campaigns, and landing pages, on social media your customer has the chance to talk back to you. Use this to your advantage—if someone tweets a question to you, tweet back!
The last thing people want is another robotic social media steamroller that spits out scientifically designed cat memes and fill-in-the-blank surveys. Be flexible and show your audience that you’re listening.
If the first thing you post to your twitter account is a link to your sales page, customers will block you faster than you can say “conversion.” Your primary sales efforts probably shouldn’t happen via social media—it’s primarily a trust-building platform. If you do decide to sell, make sure no more than 10% of your content is promotional.
Where do your customers live online? Are they fashionistas posting religiously to Instagram? Are they indie musicians obsessed with SoundCloud? Or are they foodies with a voracious, vivacious Facebook group? Don’t spread yourself thin trying to cover all the bases; focus your efforts where your customers are.
This one is the most important. It’s easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole and wake up six hours later. Don’t go there—block out an hour each day for social media, and leave it at that. If your internet work is getting in the way of your real-world work, it’s time to step back and re-examine.
Social media can be a powerful platform when you build and maintain it well. Remember, likes are not profits. Focus on building relationships and watch your profits grow.
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