Social Media hasn’t just exploded — it has taken off into the stratosphere. Companies and brands are stampeding towards WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter faster than someone with 100 Twitter followers can call themselves a Social Media Expert. But while you may be able to lead a horse to water you can’t make it drink. Simply leading a brand to HootSuite doesn’t mean they have anything great to say.
Before testing the social waters, brands need to answer some basic preliminary questions:
WHY DO YOU WANT TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
I’m the first to admit that I’m a social media fanboy. I spend countless hours tweeting, updating my status, checking in, and checking out, all from my iPhone and iPad. However, that doesn’t mean I believe EVERYONE should be on these platforms. Social Media isn’t a cult and I’m not serving up questionable Kool-Aid. Social media isn’t for everyone, but if it is right for your brand, it can be very powerful in creating a direct bond between brand and audience. It also helps build your owned and earned media channels.
Back to the question — why do you want to use social media? Is it simply because everyone else in your corporate park is using it? Or have you gathered real data about your audience that suggests it’s a good idea? Is your audience using Facebook? Is your audience active on Twitter? Are your customers clamoring for new content updated on a weekly basis (cough, blog, cough)? Answering these questions will help you not only decide if social media is right for you, but which channels you should embrace and which channels should be avoided.
WHAT CONTENT ARE YOU GOING TO CREATE?
Mike Sweeney wrote a fantastic post earlier this year entitled, Don’t Let the Social Media Tail Wag the Dog. This chronicled the common mistake that companies and brands make when they hop onto the very full social media bandwagon without any thought about what they actually have to say.
“While content marketing efforts are absolutely enhanced via social media marketing, content marketing can happen without social media marketing [Hyperlink not in original quote]. On the flip side, social media marketing loses a whole lot of punch without content marketing. Without content, social media marketing stops after 140 characters and only continues when you’re ready to answer the question ‘What’s happening?’ again, or listen to someone else’s response to that question.”
Quality content is essential in today’s marketing landscape. And without quality content that audiences find entertaining, useful, or both, it’s very difficult for a brand to establish a strong digital footprint within social media. There are certain types of companies that have found success simply by being there to listen to customers, but if you’re not a company with constant chatter from bewildered customers, social media channels can be lonely places.
I believe every company and brand has something to offer their audience when it comes to content. Whether it be a fun game to kill a few minutes or an engaging iPad travel application, it ultimately comes down to reaching your audience through quality content.
So what do you really have to say?