We use social media tools for different purposes. We might use it for distribution of media, for marketing, for customer service, for promotion, for communication, and most likely, for all of the above. How you use it depends on your end goals, obviously. But most times, people are being thrust into using social media without really knowing what the goals are, and without knowing what kind of workflow should accompany the use of the tool. Instead, they swing by Facebook to see if anyone commented on the wall update, and they visit Twitter to reply to a few things, retweet a few other things, and they end up feeling like they’re not sure why they’re doing this, let alone how it’s going to serve the cause.
For the sake of this post, we’ll talk about the marketing aspects mostly. Oh, and this is just PART 1: AWARENESS AND CAPTURE. Depending on how it’s received, I’ll add more.
Here are some thoughts on developing social media workflows (including the first building blocks).
Where most people get tripped up with social media is that they don’t have solid and clear goals in mind. Goals for using social media for your business can be varied. A few sample goals:
- Increase subscribers to our newsletter by __%.
- Increase sales.
- Promote community engagement (measured by comments and other touches).
- Improve awareness (measured by site visits or video views or similar, and better still, next actions taken).
- Gather customer feedback for product and service enhancement/improvement.
You’ll note that the goals listed above also have tangible measurements attached to them. Showing up in social media to dip your toes in the pool isn’t all that useful. It’s fun and it might prove that you’re using all the cool kid toys, but if you’re not building on something tangible, then there’s nothing worth doing. Caveat to that: it’s okay to not understand how you’re going to achieve these goals right out of the gate. Part of the process is to actually understand the medium and figure out how to best use it.
Thinking in Blocks
If you and I were drawing this together on a white board, or using post-its and an easel, we’d be drawing blocks. The blocks would be like recipe elements, or like bits of code, or like building blocks for kids. I’m a visual thinker, and I think it helps the process. Because I’m too lazy, it’s up to you to get out some sticky notes and make some blocks. Everything below this should be a block to consider.
Unless your goal is to support and satisfy an existing organization (for instance, if you’re an association or if this is an internal project), the next thing you’ll want to work on is understanding how to raise awareness of your project. Creating amazing and compelling content is excellent, unless no one sees it. Awareness is tricky these days. YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, and it serves billions of video views every year. That sounds promising until you realize that means you’re competing with billions of other videos, so just putting up a video there won’t help. This will be the problem with most every project you work on.
To gain awareness, you’ll have to find the people you need to target. To do that, you’ll need to understand the landscape.
If I were building something to accomplish these goals, I’d first need to understand the landscape and which tools I’d want to use. For instance, if you’re doing something heavily B2B, there might not be a lot of value in hanging out on Facebook and Twitter, and maybe not even LinkedIn. Acquisition of new people would be the first and foremost thing to consider in that case, actually. If your product faces consumers, then you know that you might want to approach them on a series of mediums. Finding people could be as using a service like Rapleaf or Flowtown. You’ll note something (and we’ll talk about this more): these services all run on email as the hinge. You’ll note that email addresses are the true coin of the realm of understanding and using social media, at least from a marketing perspective.
Figuring out the landscape and the awareness are probably the first two blocks in any workflow, in my mind, or else you’re kind of wasting your effort.
Once you know how you’re going to tackle awareness, and once you have a sense of the landscape where you intend to find people to appreciate and admire your projects, you’ll want a way to capture information about them and do something of value with it. You need some kind of database. If you’re a larger company, then you’re going to want to integrate these people into your existing CRM. Products like Salesforce already have spots to put people’s social media identities. ACT might, as well. I know that Batchbook has that built right in. What you’re looking to create in your database is a kind of Rosetta Stone of people’s social map. So, once you’ve done your work, you might have my Twitter account, my Facebook account, my LinkedIn account, my YouTube account and whatever matters to you.
You’ll obviously also want to store some information that you glean from those channels. Perhaps on YouTube, you’ll note that my daughter does product reviews with me, and maybe you sell a kid’s product. You’ll note that on Twitter, I talk about hip hop, and maybe that will be of value to you. Who knows? But salespeople understand the value of such information. The point is, that without a database, you’re just making stuff and setting it free on the world.
If you’re looking to build awareness and you’re looking to do something with it, you’ll need to think in terms of capturing these new potential leads so that you can understand which of them can be turned into prospects. Remember that not everyone who interacts with you is a lead. Not everyone who watches your video is a lead. Remember that you have to do some good community work to convert any of these people into buyers and that their response to your efforts to engage doesn’t mean that they want to buy. (Please repeat this over and over to eager salespeople and hungry marketers.)
Just the same, we have to do some things to seek out and find people to add to our database.
Listening is a great capture. If you learn how to grow bigger ears, the results of such efforts will help you find people via the listening channel. As people start voicing their needs, they aren’t exactly saying your name every time, so you might have to work on finding what phrases and words people will use that identify what you sell. Note: it’s rarely what you put on your marketing materials (though maybe it should be?).
Creating good media is a great way to seek capture. For instance, if you write a really useful newsletter, people will sign up. If you create free webinars, people will sign up. These aren’t immediately prospects, but they are at least leads that you can run down. With a social media perspective to capture, perhaps what you do after gathering up these new email addresses is you run them through RapLeaf of Flowtown and find out where these people spend time online. From that, you might learn a bit more about what these people are into and how that might apply to determining if they’re a useful prospect, and also possibly helping you better understand how to market to them and eventually sell them your product or service.
Capture is one of the steps that I feel most people miss with social media workflows. They create interesting stuff and then don’t do much to try and build a follow-on step, OR they go for “sale” as the next step. In most workflows offline, sale is the fourth or fifth action. I never understood why people thought it would be truncated online.
Here Endeth Part One
The awareness and capture elements of a social media workflow are something that will take some time to ingest and work through. I think we’ll stop here and see what comes of this. If you find it interesting, please comment. If you disagree or want to rebut, by all means, please do. These are just some serving suggestions. If you want to write your own version of the article with some more steps, by all means, please do, and consider linking back to this post.
That’s the beauty of this stuff. We can all collaborate and contribute. What say you?