Social media: Are you doing it wrong?

WrongWay_sxc.hu_795594_46981410Your goal with social media shouldn’t be to simply “Get 250 new likes on Facebook” or “Get 700 new followers on Pinterest.” But rather, your goal should always be “Increase my visibility and sell more products/services.” Important questions to ask yourself: What are you going to do with all of the people who liked your page on Facebook? What is the real goal of maintaining my social media presence?

You can spend months posting cute cat photos on your Facebook wall and running ads to reach your goal of 500 likes and then ask yourself: was it actually worth all this time and effort?

There’s no doubt that in 2013, being represented on social media is important, and it can be a great way to communicate with (and gain) customers, but it’s also important not to overestimate the power of a “like” or lose sight of your underlying goal to enhance your brand or sell your product or service.

The “inside” approach.

You have a product. Let’s say it’s a new egg cooking pan. You want to promote it and get lots of new customers. You post about it only on Facebook: nice photos of you holding it, the eggs before and after cooking, the pan looking great in the kitchen, claims of it being the best egg cooker on the planet, special offers: “Today Only! Order 5 egg cookers and get 10% off of the 6th pan!” You run Facebook ads to promote it. Your entire presentation is unified on getting new likes and followers. You may get them, but is your goal to gain followers, or to sell pans?

A key problem here is that you’re using “social” media to communicate TO potential customers, rather than communicating and building relationships WITH existing ones. In this case, existing customers aren’t getting much value out of your promotional notifications, since they’re already customers, while new customers aren’t being asked to do anything but “follow.”

The “outside” approach

What is the “outside” approach?

The outside approach means building up PR by reaching out to individuals/entities with influence who can drive people firstly to your product/service to become new customers, and secondly to your social media presence, where they can then engage and interact as existing customers.

There are two components necessary for this approach:

1) your product/service is truly good and useful
2) you can provide value to promoters with potential influence.

Let’s assume you have number 1 covered. What about value to a potential promoter? It’s very simple: find a way you can help people to accomplish a goal with your product.

For the egg cooking pan: offer to write egg related articles for an egg/food magazine, send your product for review to the food or mommy bloggers, sponsor an egg cooking series on related blogs, write guest posts on related blogs, participate in cooking events, provide your egg cooking equipment to contests and shows, etc.

In all cases, send people directly back to where they can buy the pan. Selling pans is your main goal. Encourage recognition with the product/service first, not your social media page. People mainly “like” companies on Facebook that they already like in reality. Once they know your product or service, they’ll be more likely to seek you out on social media. When they get to Facebook, you’ll have an opportunity to engage and communicate with them because they want to, on their own initiative. By focusing on the product/service first and your social media presence second, you allow people to naturally engage with you, which is more valuable than forcing “likes” for “likes’ sake.”

The Bottom Line

Social media is so important that it’s not really optional anymore — you should certainly be maintaining a Facebook page.

However, it’s important to realize that social media is not an end in itself. It’s true that social media can help sales by increasing visibility (people share with each other when they find a product/service they like,) but social media is probably best used as an avenue to communicate and build relationships WITH existing customers, rather than a way to sell TO new customers.

When aiming to build your online presence and visibility, focus your product/service first, but be ready with social media to engage customers who seek you out once they know who you are.

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