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Seven questions to ask before starting a social media campaign


December 2, 2011
By Marc Gordon

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marc-2x2-colourDecember 2, 2011 – Starting a social media campaign for your business is like entering into a relationship. For it to succeed over the long term you must be committed to it and have realistic expectations as to what you’ll get out of it.

Current statistics show that that 73 per cent of Twitter registrants
have posted fewer than 10 messages and one-third have posted none at
all.

The majority of Facebook fan pages give visitors no incentive to “like”
the page. As well, they rarely develop ongoing communication campaigns
catered to their fans.

These trends are a clear indication that both people and businesses are
participating in social media with either no plan, no goals, or no idea
why.

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So before you make your first tweet, create a Facebook fan page, or
start searching for Linked In connections, ask yourself these questions.
The answers may help you better focus your time, resources, and better
understand how to include social media into your company’s marketing
program.

1. Why do I want to participate in social media?

With social media “experts” declaring that any business not tweeting or
without a Facebook fan page is losing business to competitors, many
entrepreneurs feel compelled to participate out of fear. This just leads
to frustration when time and money is spent on setting up accounts and
custom pages, only to not see any measurable results. The fact is that
social media is like any other marketing tool and may not be right for
every business. Even so, it must still be used effectively, perhaps as
part of a bigger campaign, for any benefits to be seen.

2. Do I have the time and resources?

Unlike conventional marketing such as ads in a newspaper, direct mail,
or even a web site, social media requires continuous attention.
Depending on your business, this could range from a few minutes a day to
over an hour. Do you have the time, desire and patience to make regular
and relevant tweets or update your Facebook page? And while you could
have a staff member or virtual assistant do this for you, that means
allocating resources and money that you may or may not be able to
afford, or could better be used elsewhere.

3. Can I continuously come up with great content?

Unlike a blog where you can post content on your own schedule, making
social media work means posting interesting and relevant content on an
ongoing basis. Depending on which guru you listen to, this can mean a
few tweets a day to more than 10 per hour. Can you keep up this pace?
And do you really have enough to say? Even sharing a mix of personal
anecdotes, relevant links, retweets, and business information can only
go so far before you start getting mentally exhausted – and frustrated.

4. What are my goals?

Unless you’re involved in social media for purely social purposes, it’s
likely that you are hoping to get some form of financial return out of
it. The goals of attracting more clients and more sales is what drives
most businesses to social media in the first place. So let’s be
realistic – from a business perspective, followers, friends, fans and
connections are really nothing more than lists. And if the names on
those lists are not the kinds of clients you would like to attract, then
you may be preaching to the wrong crowd. The best thing to do is decide
what your goals are from the start. For many businesses, clients can
come from any geographic area or be any demographic, so social media may
be ideal. Think about if you’re trying to create awareness for your
company, product, or just you.

5. What are my alternatives?

Social media is just one of hundreds of ways to reach people. Depending
on your goals you may find some old fashioned methods produce better
results with less resources. Trade shows, direct mail, email, seminars,
networking events, newspaper ads, or publicity stunts can still garner
the kinds of result you may be looking for. Many companies have
successfully used social media to build word-of-mouth “momentum” that
originally started from a conventional marketing campaign. Remember the
Old Spice guy? That campaign started as just a television commercial and
went on to become the most successful social media campaign ever.

6. Do people really care?

The open forum concept of Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups allows
for huge numbers of people to talk about common interests. But let’s be
honest here. Is your business worthy of discussion? A client of mine who
is a self-employed dental hygienist was disappointed when her tweets
and Facebook postings garnered little response. While they were quality
posts, it seemed teeth cleaning was just not a big draw for online
discussion. It can be tough to hear, but sometimes the world does not
share your passion about your product or service.

7. How do I measure success?

While many web designers and consultants will point to Google Analytics
when asked about return on investment, the fact is that ROI can only be
measured in dollars and cents. Your time and resources are worth
something, so you must put a value to them and factor that in when
developing your social media campaign. If you make $80.00 an hour doing
what your core service is, then investing 10 hours in social media will
cost you $800.00. If you don’t make that money back in a reasonable
period of time, then you will have a negative return. Factor in other
costs such as a graphic designer or marketing consultant, and your costs
will be even higher. Success should be defined by a set of criteria
before you begin your campaign – social media or otherwise.

Think of social media as just one tool in your marketing toolbox. And
the most effective marketing campaigns come from knowing what tools to
use and when to use them, either alone or in combination.

Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in
Toronto, Ont. His firm, Fourword Marketing, specializes in helping
businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing
campaigns. Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit www.marcgordon.ca
.