Today I came across two posts that had me nodding my head in approval so vigorously that I almost gave myself a headache. In the first one, my friend Sue Horner describes how a local restaurant eked out a couple of tweets about a special fixed priced menu, then apparently didn’t communicate further with potential diners, or even those already seated in the room. The owners were probably wondering why the social media magic didn’t work, and the restaurant wasn’t packed every night.
In the second post, Stanford Smith relates a “pick your brain over coffee” meeting* where a potential client believed that social media would solve all his business problems. Smith wisely advised him that: “Social media will only make your problem worse. You have to have a compelling product first. If you don’t, social media will only pour gas on the fire that’s burning your business down.”
Because social media and social marketing seem ubiquitous today, we’re seeing these trends (among others), in my humble opinion:
- Businesses that have not used social media to date are feeling compelled to jump on the so-called bandwagon, some without forethought or goals or ways to measure success; and
- Businesses that are using social media, but who are doing so poorly, are complaining that “social media doesn’t work.”
As someone who has been immersed in communications for more than 20 years, and in social media since 2004, I feel qualified to weigh in with this unsolicited advice:
- Social media is not magic.
- Social media will not “sell” a poorly designed service or product.
- Social media in a vacuum, not integrated with a communications or marketing plan, is likely to fail big time.
- Social media is not free; you need to dedicate time and resources.
Every few weeks I receive a call or email from someone who wants to learn to “do” social media. But when I ask about their marketing plan, they often reply: “What marketing plan?”
Yes, social media may be relatively new in the world of business. But some things do not change: You need goals, you need a plan, you need resources, and you need to make sure that all the moving parts click together.
What do YOU think? Have you ever been asked to pull a rabbit out of a social media hat?
* I must write a post about the “pick-your-brain-over coffee” meeting some time. I do believe my time is worth more than the cost of a tall caffè latte.
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