Marketing through social media is all the rage these days, but if you’re a businessperson deciding how to allocate valuable resources, you should be less concerned with doing what’s popular and more concerned with activities that are going to generate a return. Tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn get a lot of press and seem to have been deemed ‘worthy’ by an awful lot of businesses, but what if your customers aren’t on Facebook? What if you can’t imagine them tweeting?
I run a company that owns and operates fly fishing lodges. Our typical guests are not exactly leading the charge with technology – as recently as three years ago, we had to build our processes with the assumption that not everyone had email. A generous estimate might put 1% of our customers as social media users. So why do I waste my time on Twitter? Why do I ask my team to update Facebook? Why would I bother writing posts for my own blog, let alone someone else’s?
1. More of your customers are using social media than you think.
It’s as simple as that – once you try connecting with your customers on a social media platform, you might just be surprised at whom you find out there. I’m friends on Facebook with a 75 year old customer from Tennessee. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
2. If you show your customers value, they’ll hop aboard.
If you’re an early adopter in your industry, you have the incredible opportunity to show you customers how today’s tools are valuable. Be a good user and your ability to engage with your customers online will take care of itself. Don’t tell your customers that social media tools are cool – show them why social media tools are cool, and helpful too. Our level of engagement with our customers jumped on Facebook when we changed our message from “Follow us on Facebook” to “Want daily updates on what’s happening at our lodges? Check us out on Facebook!”. Show them the way!
3. Early adopters are in a club together.
The simple fact that you and your customer, prospect or potential partner are both using some new technology can be at least a conversation-starter, and in some cases the basis for a relationship. Today, it’s almost literally the case that if I like to fly fish and you like to fly fish, and we’re both on Twitter, that makes us buddies. That won’t be the case forever, but why not take advantage of the opportunity to start a bunch of conversations that you couldn’t otherwise?
4. Your customers aren’t the only ones you can find online.
Even though the majority of your customers might not be using the newest social media tools (yet!), there are some other folks out there who you might want to meet and engage with as well – how about vendors, resellers, employees and recruits? When we started using Facebook, its main value came from interacting with past, current and potential employees – which made it easily worthwhile.
5. New media tools help with SEO and web traffic in general.
I’m no SEO expert, but I have a hunch that links to and from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog and a corporate web site can’t hurt SEO. I know for a fact that social media sites can do a great job driving web traffic in general. The direct engagement that you have via social media is beneficial for all the reasons listed above; SEO and traffic bumps are the icing on the cake.
Andrew Bennett runs Deneki Outdoors, a company that owns and operates fly fishing lodges in Alaska, British Columbia, the Bahamas and Chile. Deneki Outdoors has a web site , a blog , a Facebook page and a Twitter page .