What questions must be answered to determine the best place for your association to focus its social media efforts?
By Corey Perlman
In general, I tend to disagree with any extremists—no matter the topic—and the world of social media is no different. On one side, you have the social media snobs. These are the people who take only a moment to look up from their iPad to scoff at the notion that youʼre not tweeting 10 times a day. How dare you!
Then thereʼs the seasoned salesperson, sporting the slightly dated three-piece suit, business cards oozing out of his pockets. When asked about Facebook or Linkedin, his response: "I donʼt play games.”
Social media is not a game, nor is it some sort of magic bullet. By definition, itʼs the exact opposite of traditional media. Instead of one large voice talking to many, itʼs many voices talking to you or me. And the tools, like Facebook and Twitter, are just a few of the communities through which people choose to do their talking.
When determining your association’s social media sweet spot, first answer these questions:
1. Who are your customers? Middle-aged executives at Fortune 1000 companies or stay-at-home moms? It matters.
2. What are you trying to accomplish via social media? Leads? Engagement? Brand Awareness? All three? Of course you are!
3. Most importantly, where are your potential members hanging out online? Techies tend to flock to Twitter, executives feel safer on Linkedin, and of the 500 million people on Facebook , the average user checks his or her page once a day.
Now for many associations, your sweet spot might actually be in multiple places. Most organizations tend to use Facebook for engagement, Twitter for brand awareness, and Linkedin for introductions into companies with whom they’d like to do business.
But if you or your association is going to play in more than one sandbox, you need to take the time to do it properly. Simply regurgitating content from Facebook to your Linkedin profile is not going to work. Each site is a different community and must be nurtured and maintained as such. Here are some guidelines:
1. Think of Linkedin as a professional networking event. Come in looking sharp, engage people in groups and companies, and learn more about their businesses. Introduce your network to others who might be able to use their products or services. In other words, network!
2. Think of Facebook as a holiday party. Come in a nice sweater, or at least take off the suit jacket once you arrive. Donʼt feel the need to talk business, but should it come up organically. Feel free to hand out a business card and set up a meeting for next week. Meet at least 15 new people and learn about them—personally and professionally. Congregate in groups and donʼt be surprised if a member compliments a service your association provided a few months ago. Let them "sell” new memberships for you.
3. Think of Twitter as the largest crowded subway in the world. There are a lot of total strangers, and they are all of a sudden in your personal space! You have nothing in common with most of them, and some are down right strange. But you strike up some conversations with a few of the people around you and find out that they have lived in the same neighborhood as you for years or they are just as big a fan of the Orlando Magic as you are. You determine that you have a common interest with some of these total strangers, and you agree to stay in touch.
And of course there are other communities like Foursquare and Yelp that might be part of your social media sweet spot. It all goes back to where your potential customers are spending their time. Itʼs all about fishing in the right pond.
Corey Perlman is author of the social media and Internet marketing book, eBoot Camp and co-founder of Urbane Camp social media marketing company.