The Social Media Starting Line

In his blog post The Big 3: How Social Media, Video, and Mobile Are Transforming Green Marketing, Paul Hannam makes some powerful points about the growth of social media, video and mobile marketing, and why Green marketers need to pay attention. I agree.

In response, Hannam  outlines his own system to take advantage of these new means of reaching your potential customers, including developing a strategy based on rigorous research; implementing multiple streams of traffic to your Website; acquiring subscribers and fans; converting subscribers to buyers with an effective sales process; and testing, evaluating and optimizing everything.

I’ve not yet read the posts that go into the detail of these five steps, but again, I’m guessing I’d likely agree with much of what Hannam will offer. However, I think there’s an underlying foundational element that must be considered prior to implementing any of these steps. Let’s call this the…

Social Media Starting Line.

Openness, Trust and Authenticity

Earlier in the article, Hannam makes the following statement: “Green business and social media share the same values and practices of openness, trust and authenticity.”

This statement is the closest that Hannam gets to what I’d call the Social Media Starting Line. As I’ve mentioned before, above all else, social media is social. Although it can be used in a traditional sense to push information to a customer, this can only effectively be achieved in the electronic realm when that openness, trust and authenticity has been established and nurtured between a business and its customers.

The responsive nature of the Web demands this. On the Web, your customer is no longer a captive audience, as it used to be for a magazine ad or a direct mail marketing piece. Now your customers can, with the click of a button, mark your email as spam or call you out using Facebook and Twitter to all their friends (and their friends’ friends).

This is why building relationships with your customers and providing them value is so crucial to the successful use of social media. This is why openness, trust and authenticity are so important. Web users demand it.

Sound daunting? On some level it is, but when done right, it can reap rewards not found with traditional marketing models.

A Small, but Related Case in Point

Some time ago, I liked the Facebook page of a kitchen store. I don’t see too many posts from them scrolling on my FB wall, but recently something caught my eye. It was a photo of a beautiful serving set, replete with tray, mugs and dessert plates. I “liked” it and shared it with my friends.

All of the pieces were decorated with a colorful and very unique watercolor illustration of a chickadee. The photo description read, “Around the store.”

Of course, I clicked through to find out more. But that’s all I learned about the set on the FB page (that it was in the store), so I went to find the store’s Website. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quickly find a link to the store on the FB page, so I did a Google search.

Well, that got me to their Website – but I discovered that it was not an ecommerce site – which means I couldn’t order anything.  And worse yet, I couldn’t find that lovely chickadee serving set anywhere on the site.

Ok – so if I can’t get information from the Website, I can ask for more on the FB – or so I thought. I went back to the FB page and asked a question about the set.

I’ve still not received a response.

In the meantime, multiple friends of mine had looked at and liked my post, and within less than an hour of posting the picture of the set, my husband managed to search and find other vendors who sold it. He also found out who the watercolor artist was, found them on Etsy, and ordered a different watercolor print my birthday – which he then shared on FB.

I was so excited about the print that I shared it both on Pinterest and Facebook.

Missing the Boat

The kitchen store missed the boat. And they are still missing the boat.

If you use Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media for business purposes, it’s all about understanding the immediacy of these tools and wielding them appropriately.

In my case, the kitchen store posted a picture with no product or purchase information. The link to their Website was hidden on their about page. And when you get to their Website, you discover that the only way you can purchase products is to visit the store (which happens to be about an hour drive from where I live).

And no one ever responded to my FB inquiry.

The Moral of the Story

Web users are focused and want what they want. Both a business’ Website and use of social media need to cater to users to help them easily accomplish their mission.

And, if you’re going to use social media, make sure you’re prepared to interact with your customer.

This is the Social Media Starting Line.

If you treat the Social Media Starting Line with respect, your customers not only will respect you, they may just become your best and brightest advocates.

By the way, I didn’t put out disgruntled statements to my friends about the store. However, at the end of the day, a possible sale and future business was lost. And I suspect that, knowing what I do now, I likely won’t be as quick to check out what’s going on on their Facebook page.

By Lynette Whittenton (Google+), Copywriter and Content Marketing Professional.

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