I've had the opportunity to work with a couple of corporate businesses recently in developing their social networking campaign. Recently, a lot of larger companies have been looking to their marketing and SEO teams to help them with their online campaign. While this can be good, these people may not be the best social networking consultant a business owner can turn to.
Musicians have been into online marketing for quite some time now. The first social giant, MySpace, was a great avenue for unsigned bands to get their music heard on a global market, and cunning musicians started getting online to promote themselves. I was one of those people, getting involved with internet marketing back in 2004, when most people just saw these social websites as a teenage sensation. Musicians, some famous now, were the first to learn the dos and don'ts of social media marketing.
Personally, I could not hire a social networking consultant or a pay a big marketing firm to grow my fan base. Unlike businesses, we did not have an advertising budget! It would turn out, however, that this was a blessing in disguise.
Fast forward to 2008, businesses started to get online on a much larger scale. Business owners and marketers began to see the mass appeal these websites had, and the low opportunity cost that could be invested to get superior results. Unfortunately, these businesses had not had the time and experience under their belts to understand how these websites really worked. Today, they still are looking at these websites as a new type of PPC campaign or yellow page advertisement. However, these websites are not a replacement for direct advertising methods.
Musicians learned early on that the only way to grow your fan base (our customers) was to come across and act like a real person, instead of hiding behind the name of the band. Even though I was online to market myself, most of the people I was targeting were online to connect with their family and friends, which is still true to this day. I realized that I was not going to be pitching to a community; instead I had to join these online communities and be found that way. When I started looking at social networking websites as a way to reach a community, and became involved in the community as a person, my success on these websites went up tenfold.
As I was approached by local businesses to help them online, I quickly learned that most businesses, from big to small, were making the same mistakes of approaching social networking as an ad campaign, instead of getting involved in their local community. Unfortunately, they were often egged on by SEO firms trying to grow the search engine ranking of a company's main website, and a marketing or sales firm trying to get your pitch out to as many people as possible. A starving musician would have known differently!
If you're using social networking for your business right now, take a look at your business pages. Are there reasons that people would actually want to connect with you on these platforms, or are they reading as a boring sales page? Are you coming across as a person, who is representing a business, or are you coming across as a scary corporation that only posts sales related messages? For the next couple of weeks, start posting things about your community, about who you are as a person, and try and target your customer's interests outside of your business. This is the first step to changing your social networking campaign from a direct advertising campaign, to an effort of growing the community interest in your business or brand.
So should you go out to your local bar and try and con one of the people on stage into being your social networking consultant? Probably not. What you should do, however, is learn from the experiences that they had to go to, and work on building a community around your name, instead of just trying to sell your name. That, my friends, is how social networking will benefit your business.
– Jerry Nihen
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