One of most important decisions you make everyday is where to spend your time. Social Media takes time sometimes lots of time and you should be sure you’ll get a return for your investment.
I noticed that the people I respect the most in the business world don’t wax poetic about “being human” or get misty-eyed over “engagement”. These business owners care about their customers. They are serious about building great products. Most of all, they want to get paid. They recognize that profits create jobs and grows businesses.
Sometimes social media contributes to that goal. Sometimes social media is a waste of time. Beware of anyone who are enamored with the idea of social more than its effective application.
When I’m asked to create a social media strategy, I look for three signs. These signs have never steered me wrong. Apply them to your business to see if you are really ready for social media.
#1: Sales and Customers
Specifically, does your business know how to create a great product and sell it to customers? This is much harder than it sounds, 80% of new businesses fail this test every year. If you can convince a complete stranger to give you cash then you have the foundation for building profitable relationships. Pound for pound, customers are the best sources of new and repeat business.
Customers will follow you on Twitter. They will check out your Facebook page. They will comment on blog posts. Customers have a vested interest in your success. Before you spend time debating the merits of auto-posting on Twitter, invest time in getting a growing roster of delighted customers.
#2: A Product Hero
People love sharing stories about products that delighted or surprised them. Unfortunately, they also love telling people about product disappointments too. Before you obsess over your Facebook Cover Photo, make sure you have a product that creates word-of-mouth moments.
There is a local coffee shop that roasts and brews absolutely incredible coffee. The owner taught me how to make my own pot of coffee using a fascinating “slow pour” method, Now, I can brew my own killer cup of coffee at home. I’ve told this story at least a hundred times. This coffee shop is ready for social media because they create these word-of-mouth moments every day.
Are you creating these moments with your customers? Are your customers asking for cards to pass out to their friends? If so, your business is ready for social media.
#3: A Passion for Service
Are you obsessed with customer service? Does it pain you to know that some customers don’t understand your product or service?
The best social media strategies are executed by businesses that are built around customer education and satisfaction. Companies that are motivated solely by process and profit often stumble in the social arena. Southwest Airlines’ social success isn’t a fluke. They have a passion for service. They make it a priority to create content that will help their customers. Other airlines falter because they lack this singular dedication to service.
I believe that local businesses should excel in this area. My neighborhood grocer has my permission to share his local growers initiative with me. The local italian restaurant has earned the opportunity to show me how to create gnocchi in my own kitchen. The local tanning booth...well anyway you get the picture.
You can’t fake it until you make it with social. You have to get service right before you can inspire others to share.
What if You Fail the Social Media Test?
First, congratulations for being honest. You’ve probably already identified an area that needs your attention.
- A lack of sales points to a communication mismatch between customers and your product.
- A clunky product means testing, steady customer feedback, or even starting over.
- Poor service requires a “culture makeover.” Time spent on these issues will yield real success.
Here’s the deal. You won’t find the answers to these questions on social media blogs. These are business questions not Twitter, Facebook, or even social business questions. I recently encouraged an audience to find new role models. This is definitely the case if you are working on your business.
For me, I rely on Marie Forleo, Eric Ries, Brendon Buchard, Brian Clark, for solid business advice. When I want to connect the dots between social and business I ignore “opinion” leaders and seek out veterans like Mark Schaefer, Mitch Joel, and Jay Baer.
Tell me. Did you pass the test? Is it time you found a new role model?