Most companies will never master social media because they simply have no desire to. Your social media will never work and there is nothing you can do about it – until you get serious about it.

The following points highlight why the approach that most SME’s take is wrong, flawed and will never work. It just makes no sense, and is evidence why their digital marketing and social media presence will never achieve anything. The likelihood in fact is that it will do more harm than good.

If you want the solution jump straight to the bottom of the article…

Handing out leaflets or leading your industry?

Think about your company’s social media. Which of these is it most like?

1.       Someone handing out leaflets in a busy street

2.       Someone with a pop-up stand outside a busy event

3.       Someone hosting a sold-out industry conference and networking event

Most companies think they are doing number 3. In fact they are doing number 1. Take a look at the person you have asked to manage your social media. Are they more 1, 2 or 3?

Now….how likely does it look that your social media presence is going to achieve anything?

You are never going to be number 3 if you do not put the right planning and people in place. No-one creates an influential sold out event over night. It takes industry knowledge, connections, networking. You want to know the right people, be seen in the right places, become in demand. This can only happen through consistent and focused participation.

The boss hates social media

If you are socially connected and digitally competent business owner then chances are your business is to. Sadly most business leaders do not have these skills or interests. I have an old school friend who has a successful business which – I believe – could be lot more successful if they harnessed the power of digital marketing and social media, to improve their sales. I’ve been trying to explain this to him for years. Talk about frustrating.

Then this week LinkedIn notified me he had just joined. Ahah, now I understand why I have failed to get through to him. He simply does not understand and is therefore a mixture of sceptical, not interested or too scared to talk about it. Or has he put it “I hate all the sharing and stuff”.

Its laughable to suggest you would not give your staff a telephone or insist they send faxes instead of email. Why is it such a stretch therefore to believe that having the best technical solutions to support your sales and marketing would make your business more successful?

You cannot afford the right people

For a company that doesn’t understand the value of digital marketing and effective social media, committing to hiring someone who’s sole job it is to grow the business through those channels is an impossible expectation. Classically even when a company does see the value in this role, the answer is “get someone junior and have them report in to the marketing manager”.

That, by the way, is the marketing manager who does not understand digital and social media.

This is a double whammy. You spend a little money on the wrong person and end up even more confused and frustrated about why it didn’t deliver any results.

A company rang me the other day and asked if I could recommend anyone for their digital marketing role. This was a £5million plus turnover business in financial services. They wanted the person to plan the strategy and manage the work day by day. The salary they were offering was £25,000 plus some company wide bonus scheme if they hit target. The role reported into the Sales Director who, when I looked, had just 340 contacts on LinkedIn.

It just makes no sense. Who with any digital marketing experience would even want that role? And the poor enthusiastic young 2nd jobber graduate that took it? Well they will end up hating their new job and leave within 12 months. The mess they leave will make it even harder for the next person to succeed. Yikes!

Tools are not the answer

Using Social Media Tools EffectivelyJust because tools exist to make your social media activity easier doesn’t mean you can throw away all sense of planning and commitment to add value. As a company that offers social media management as a support to clients, it pains me beyond belief when a company does not want to take an active role themselves. Putting everything on auto-pilot and expecting that to deliver results won’t work.

Tools can be a great help. They should help you be more efficient, so that it free’s up time to do more engaging.  They should help you execute campaigns consistently so you can track results and improve results. They are an add-on to make your more awesome – not a reason to be lazy.

Social without engagement is not social

Many companies have no desire to be social. Don’t believe me? Take a look on Twitter today.

Go and look at your own or your competitor’s profiles. How many of the tweets are @mentioning others? Retweeting, curating content, using hashtags, replying to people’s questions and furthering the conversation? The truth is hardly any of them. They use social media as an automated flyer distributor. This could be fine if you appreciate the limits of such an approach. Yet, most do not. Because it’s called social media and its free, they suddenly expect it to deliver results.

Look at tweets from events. It is painfully ironic that people sit there sharing what the speaker is saying and using the event hashtags, but do not engage with a single person all day. Not even the person sat next to them who is tweeting the same quote!

Or the person that is blasting out nonsense on LinkedIn. Imagine they were standing on a box at a networking event, shouting out those updates? It would just be plain weird.

See what I mean? No desire to be social at all.

How to get serious about social media success

No company really wants social media success. No. What they want is sales, customer loyalty, repeat business, productive and loyal staff, strong referrals. Good social media is part of what they need to make it happen. And it will; but only if you get serious about doing it right.

  • Be clear about what you are going to be, do and say on your social channels.
  • Define your audience, what they talk about, to who, where and why.
  • Create content and lead generation pages that get you actual results and return on investment.
  • Curate content and relevant industry news – add something to it when you share.
  • Engage influencers and be seen to add value to others.
  • Be consistent. Follow a day to day plan. Look spontaneous but plan everything out in advance.
  • Be prepared to spend money on social advertising and retargeting. Get serious about results.
  • Get skilled senior people on your team or bring expert support in from outside.
  • Make it a core competence across the business.

Most of these actions will seem as alien to you now as they did at the start of the blog post. That is not a failing on your part but an indication that you or your company does not have the right knowledge and experience to address this subject. It is a skill. Something that if you want results from, you need to involve the right people.

As an analogy, there may be someone in your team who could massage an aching back. If you want to successfully treat back pain though you would want a trained physiotherapist to get you the desired results effectively and efficiently. Just because someone can create a Facebook page and schedule some tweets does not mean they are your digital marketing expert.

Until you build up that core competence internally – if indeed that is what you want to do – then get the right support to help you put the structure in place. That starts with business leaders. Get interested yourself, make it first a personal competence and then make it core to your business.

Make social media a competitive advantage

Social media – or simply digital marketing – is an asset in your business. It is a competitive advantage which done right will separate you from your competition. It will have people seek you out and choose to work with you. It will make your company a more attractive place to work, or even a more desirable company to acquire.

Now doesn’t that sound better than handing out leaflets in the street?!