The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Changes in technology are opening new venues for communicating and marketing. However, the fundamentals aren't changing. They're just taking new forms.
For decades, refrigerators have been social media. Visitors often end up in the kitchen. Their talk immediately shifts to what's on the fridge – photos, clippings, witty sayings and souvenir magnets.
Some of my friends and family keep old Christmas photos on the fridge until the new Christmas photos show up. Recipes, diets and special articles may also be found on the fridge for comment and discussion. I sometimes plagiarize by copying stuff from other fridges to post on my own. Periodically some things are removed to make room for new musings. I enjoy discussing both the new and the replaced.
Refrigerators remain central to communications, even in the business world. Gems posted on the fridge in the communal workplace kitchen can be priceless.
One well-worded note warned, "To the thief that stole my partially eaten lunch. I have strep throat. Enjoy."
There are downsides. Fridges aren't interactive. You don't get real time feedback from hundreds or thousands of people each time you change a posting. Still, what people find interesting hasn't changed dramatically from ice boxes to the internet.
Paid advertising aside, what appears on social media generally falls in broad categories of self, food, family, self, funny videos, motivational thoughts, self, and every now and then a good rant. It's "Look at me! Look at me! Are you looking?"
Using social media to market your business starts with understanding differences. You wouldn't invite a business contact or prospect to view family photos and funny quotes on your refrigerator. Posting personal thoughts and pet pictures on social media in attempts to generate business is equally inappropriate.
Marketing 101 emphasizes that to effectively promote any product, service, business or individual, you must establish credibility with your target audiences.
All too often the activities taking place on social media not only fail to establish credibility, they undermine positive public perceptions.
The goal of social media marketing is to create a situation where a solid relationship may be forged between the business and its customers. It flows two ways. It's not just putting out information for consumption, as in other media. It's asking, relating, collaborating, sharing, celebrating. It's about giving and receiving. It's not all about you.
When planning a social media campaign, remember that strong relationships can't be forced. They are established over time through sharing, understanding and trust. A “drive-by” post won't cut it. You need to think long-term. What are your goals? How can social media help you reach your goals? What would you like to receive out of social media relationships? What are you willing to put into building them?
The questions answered, choose one platform as a starting point. The best platform will be the one most likely used by your target audiences.
Learn it well. Dancing across many platforms may be entertaining, but it isn't effective. Most platforms have tutorials. A little homework will go a long way.
Businesswoman Cathy Guisewite, author of the Cathy cartoon, said, “Generally, I liked feeling able to connect with millions of women on a very deep level. It felt special that women especially would cut out my strip and place it on a refrigerator.”
That's social media success pre-internet.
New social media success is measured by the strength and credibility of the relationships your postings forge between you and your customers.
Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.