Social Media Marketing: You're Not There Yet?

elements of a social media marketing program
Social media marketing has many moving parts
Social media marketing can be an amorphous and vexing subject for many small business operators. After all, it's probably not your trade, along with tuba playing. You have specific skills which, combined with an avid pursuit of success and your own secret business sauce, move your business forward, day after day. Staying current within the business environment is important, as you do not want to be branded as a paleolithic company, flogging away with methods and means long abandoned by other market or industry participants.

For perspective, some clarification about my target audience. This article, while useful in a general sense to all interested in social media marketing, is directed at smaller firms that engage in technical sales. Technical sales is not merely the sale of technical products, though that may be part of it. It is the art and practice of selling products requiring consultation between buyer and seller to assure that the delivered product or service will meet the requirements and expectations of the buyer.
How does this impact the applicability or focus of the article?
My viewpoint reflects that of a typical technical sales professional or firm. Many firms and individuals engaged in technical sales are small and localized, often acting as representatives or distributors for larger national or global brands. The goal for the technical seller's social media activities is to create lasting business connections on a one-to-one basis. This differs from what many larger or non-technical selling companies desire. Their objective is to create a one-to-many connection that is generally of an anonymous nature and without much desire to forge a lasting beneficial business relationship. In a non-technical sales instance, customers can obtain all information necessary to make a purchase without any personal contact with the seller. Technical sales pros, because of their size, localized focus, and method for delivering value, benefit from social media activities in a manner that can differ from the more conventionally accepted thought. As the reader, keep this viewpoint in mind.

Technical sales pros should recognize two overarching things about social media marketing.

Social media presence will be an increasingly important element of business success.

Resources that may not currently exist in your organization will be required to implement an effective social media strategy.

For a business owner or operator, the first statement raises the question of whether theirs will be a business of the future, or one of the past. No longer are social media and internet based marketing cutting edge. They are now the plain vanilla mainstream standard. Your aging customer base is already being replaced by individuals with little to no experience dealing with printed promotional materials, supplier directories, and other bygone methods for gaining brand recognition, including static billboard-like websites. If your company is not actively pursuing the creation and maintenance of an effective web presence, let this be your final warning.
Get with the program or face brand oblivion.

"Resources that may not currently exist in your organization will be required to implement an effective social media strategy." Let's break that down some, as there are still many of you technical sales pros out there who have yet to fully digest the social media marketing concept.

To be effective, a social media marketing endeavor requires continuous nurturing. New and interesting content must be located or created. Analytics should be gathered and assessed for their applicability and usefulness. There are innumerable small tasks and considerations that combine to make a successful program.

Two basic resources are needed to launch and maintain a useful social media presence. One is time, the other is money. It is possible to execute a useful strategy with any mix of these two resources. A candid and careful evaluation of the skills available within your organization, as well as the available budget for marketing, will move you toward the best resource allocation. 

clock showing various activities in a social media marketing program
Marketing activities are time sensitive
An obvious solution for the social media marketing challenge is to outsource the whole program and let someone else handle it. Your function would be to select an appropriate vendor and evaluate the general results, assuring your company's brand is being promoted well and that a solid social media presence is maintained. A distinct advantage of outsourcing is that it will detract little from the revenue generating activities of those currently on staff. Outsourcing is less disruptive and allows you to move forward quickly.

For most small organizations, the decision to save on direct expenditure and run the social media operations using existing staff is a perilous one. 
Effective social media plans are developed and executed by marketers. 
It is essential that social media be done well and done continuously. Otherwise, results are likely to be minimal to negative. Yes, it is conceivable to get negative promotional results from poorly conceived or executed social media activities. Turning over the day to day social media marketing activities to the only person at the firm with a Twitter account does not qualify as good decision making. Rigorous scheduling discipline is needed to maintain the quality and currency of the content, and to complete tasks at times that will produce good promotional results. Creativity, along with a marketing skill set, are also traits of a successful candidate for this position. Selecting a staff member to accomplish all that is necessary, without assuring they have the proper skill set and available time, sets the probability for failure higher than that for success.
get started crossword
Get your social media marketing going in the right direction

If you have not yet started a serious social media promotional effort, or feel your program is lacking in impact, it may be time to create a new effort. Learn from what you have already done and make your next social media marketing campaign more successful. If you are starting from ground zero, proceed slowly and gain knowledge as you progress. Avoid making big moves until you gain some experience.

Follow, comment, contact me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we help small operators build their brand and web presence, so contact us anytime.