Community Management – What you SHOULD be doing.

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What is the point of all this social marketing online for a small business? This is a fair question. After all, if you are going to devote parts of your day to online marketing, you want to know a quantifiable reason why you are spending your time this way. Well, here’s a fact for you: “The average, large company in the US has 178 corporate-owned social media accounts”, according to Marketing Pilgrim.

If you are not online, the larger, more profitable businesses that can afford a media development department are going to be ‘in people’s faces’ so much, they will simply crowd you out. Even if you are a minnow, though, in a pond full of whales you will still be able to leverage this fact into your position as an underdog.

However, there are drawbacks that the larger corporate online community management have to deal with, that you don’t. The cost associated with 178 different accounts of community management is significant. And there is always the danger of also completely confusing their customers, when they try to be different, so often, across so many platforms. Where is the information cycle that each account is cycling in? Are they closing, informing, offering special discounts, or what?

You can always listen to your customers and prospects, and ask them which platforms they are into, and why. Find out what they like to do online, and then come up with five different corporate messages to get out. Tailor each one to a different platform, because a 140-character tweet is way different than a Linked In post to vendors, corporate customers, and competitors.

You don’t have to be in a situation where you need to drown out the opposition by force of numbers. You need to find your audience, and where they are, and that’s all. By being engaging to the people that are already your supporters, you will turn them into fans, and fans talk about your business to other people.

If they recommend you to someone else personally – either face-to-face, or by an e-mail, For instance – it becomes a personal recommendation, and carries an awful lot of weight. If they do the same online, it can be received by a whole host of different people, and still has the same level of importance.

So, you find out where your current supporters are online, and what they are doing on it. You find out what you are selling most of, and why that is a good buy for people – why they like it. You announce it on the platforms that they use, in the way that they like to receive it, and watch as they spread the word and grow your base. Your fans become your supporters, and then an unofficial marketing department, spreading the word on your company on your behalf.

Perhaps most importantly, keep a spread sheet on the campaign decisions, what worked and what didn’t, and refer to it next year at this time, to make sure your message is more and more defined every time you use it.

Unlike ‘the big boys’ that can do irreparable damage to their customer support by confusing their clientele, all you have to do is stop people  trashing your business on Yelp.

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