You've heard the hype about social media for years now.  Everyone is talking about it, and companies of all sizes are launching blogs and Facebook pages, and joining Twitter.  You've heard enough and are ready to take the plunge into the social media waters.

But there's one question left to answer; How do you know that social media is right for YOUR business?

Unfortunately, this is the question that many businesses aren't asking before they decide to start their blog or join Twitter.  So what's the best way for the average business to decide if they should be using social media?  The logical first step is to start monitoring what your current and potential customers are saying NOW, and track WHERE they are saying it

Launching a blog might seem like a great idea, but what if none of your customers are reading blogs?  That Facebook fan page might seem like a no-brainer, unless all your customers are instead on Twitter.

But by doing some very simple monitoring, you can get a very good idea of what your customers are saying online, and where they are saying it.  Free tools like Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Twitter Search will let you track relevant business and industry terms to track what is being said via social media channels.

Once you have an idea of what your customers (or potential customers) are saying via social media tools/sites, then you will have a MUCH better idea of whether or not you should be using these tools to connect with them.  Again, if your current and potential customers are actively using a certain social media site/tool to discuss your business and/or industry, then you should probably be using that site/tool as well. 

Monitoring lets you find out where the social media conversations are happening, and then you can decide if you should be using social media in the same way that your customers are.  But please don't blindly buy into the hype about social media.  It is NOT right for EVERY business, and avoid anyone that tries to sell you on the idea that every business should be using social media.  These people aren't interested in seeing you use social media, they are interested in you hiring them to launch a social media project for you that you may or may not need.  Just like in school homework helps, do yours, and you'll be in good shape.

One final word; if you decide that you do need to hire a social media consultant or agency to help you, please promise me that you insist on having them TEACH you how to use the tools that they will be implementing.  If you are going to hire someone to create a blog for you, make sure that they are also willing to train you on how to properly blog, how to build community on your blog with your readers, and how to use the blog as a tool to raise awareness and build your business.  I offer social media training as part of or separately from larger consulting projects, as do several SEG authors, such as Jennifer Laycock and Beth Harte.   

Social media isn't right for every business, but it may just be right for yours.  Do your homework beforehand by monitoring social media conversations, and you'll be ahead of the game.

January 11, 2009





Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.






Comments(13)

Amen, Mack. So many companies fail to look at their culture, their customers and their offering top see if there is a match. Conversations are not results, but they are absolutely essential to getting anywhere in social media. Thus there needs to be a serious got check about the ability to offer sustained, meaningful and genuine conversations.

Any smart person can figure out what's right for their business and how to approach social media in a way that works for them and feels comfortable. Find your audience/customers and let that direct your strategy.

Hi, Mack:

I would love to engage the customers of my family's restaurant via social media and or blogging.

Problem is i don't work there and therefore (a remote evangelist) if you will. I created a blog which is where the link above takes you to. But as you can see there isn't much engagement going on.

My biggest question on the matter is the size of the town and how it is not very wired. Should i continue down the online social media path, or do more offline stuff?

Please advise. (I'm somewhat savvy on the matter of blogs and social media, but this one is really stumping me.)

Missy.

Mack: no arguments here - if your customers aren't reading blogs or engaging in social media, getting heavily involved in such tools may not be your highest priority.

Another thought to add to the argument: even if your customers are engaged in social media, don't go down this path unless you've got an organization that embraces the idea of two-way dialog, sometimes with anonymous end users, none of which will go through legal. If your CEO is squeamish about having someone write things on the website that "hasn't gone through channels," or if you don't have a cadre of internals who will own the content writing - not just for the first few weeks, but each and every week - you're setting yourself up for a frustrating experience.

Blogging and social media are for companies that really, truly want to engage in dialogs with their customers and stakeholders -- and this simple statement filters out most.

Thanks!

The old method of advertising is interactive marketing. The term is misleading. Most people think it means that there is some type of interaction on the part of the person advertised to, and there is. But, it is not conversational. Instead, the advertiser wants you to interact with their campaign in a specific set of steps. Following the call to action and visiting a website for instance. It’s the push to make you do something. Live this image. Buy this now.

Social Media Marketing is just the opposite. It’s the pull of the tribe. The tribe already has your trust so the actions they take are ones you align with. On a larger scale, it’s the allure of belonging in the group as you take action together. “I am doing this so why don’t you do it with me?” On an individual level, the attraction is to behave the same way to get the same results that benefits your fellow tribeswoman or tribesman. “She looks hot! I want to look hot too. I want to go to her hairstylist” and you do. Social Media Marketing uses the power of attraction.

While advertising tries to use the same tactic, with a billboard for instance, of a gorgeous woman telling you the benefits of the salon, it doesn’t have the same impact because it’s pushing you to go. It is not pulling you in as a trusted friend. Your friends have your best interests at heart and advertisers do not. Social Media Marketing is based on building trust and that foundation will make Social Media a dominant player in Marketing.

As if i need to say it, another spot on post Mack, keeping it real:-)

So many people are advising others to use elaborate tools before they even stop to consider the audience and where and what they are saying.

I think a lot of peopel are being poorly advised and if time / money is not abundant it's criminal that they are being advised badly by so called "experts".

First thing I do when talking to any kind of business is to look at customers, current ones, ones they'd like, personas etc. all the good stuff starts here....

People touting new tools only without the other fundamentals to bring to the table will all be exposed

Social media is an increasingly important marketing option that everyone should look into. Although, I do wonder whether it’s just a bubble? For instance, My friend and I whom have used Facebook for many years now have found that our activity levels have slumped…

Clutast

Thanks for the information and thanks much for the tools. In my business I was debating on whether I needed to set up a blog and the relevance or not. You have answered that and given me the tools to figure out if a blog or social media is for me. I don't know all that much about social media, blogs, etc. but this definately answers many questions and gets me started to determine ya or nay. Everyones comments here also clear up questions I had on this topic.

Lynda from Prior Lake

Social media for linking purposes are an excellent way to build page rank for your sites...

1. Pick a market

2. Register the domain

3. Install SEO Wordpress Blog

4. Change the blog’s theme

5. Install the banner ads, affiliate program ads, videos, images, etc

6. Set up the email capture and first few follow up emails

7. Add content to blog

a. Run a social bookmarking campaign on blog with one group of bookmarking accounts logins and at different times and days.

b. Create supporting micro-sites mini-network (social profile pages at squidoo, hubpages, bumpzee, etc. and small static hand built sites).

c. Run a social bookmarking campaign on your micro-sites mini-network with a different set of bookmarking logins and at different times and days.

8. Submit site to SEO friendly directories sites using directory submission services.

9. Create video

a. Distribute video with video sharing software

b. Run a social bookmarking campaign on the videos sharing pages.

Steps 1 - 9 are enough to jumpstart the traffic to your new blog, static website, ecommerce website... and it only takes an hour or two.

By the way - every video directory will generate a unique URL for you. So if you have 50 URL's, you have 50 URL's to promote.

Target keywords carefully, use title/description variations, and submit randomly over an extended period of time, to make Google happy...


Recession Proof Business


_

No doubt, Social Media is here to stay, for awhile anyway... so we better get used to it.

That said, Social Media provides unlimited potential for your business if done right.

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I totally agree with you about monitoring, some of my clients (I do web design.. in addition to internet marketing) think that just becuase everyone else is participating in social media that they shoud too, regardless of if it's right for their business. I usually tell them to do a bit of research first, and dont encourage it unless it's well thought out.. great blog post!

Internet Business

You have to be specific and do your homework - You wouldn't buy a stock based on the name alone would you
you need to research and follow up and constinly work at it...... why is Tweeter such a huge, huge, phenom?

Good Post Mark,

We've been struggling with this for some time for a few of our clients. I'll never understand why the Colgate's of the world create Myspace and Facebook profiles. I don't care what you say I'll never become a fan of Colgate whitening strips on Facebook. So ridiculous.

BRLM

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Search Engine Guide > Mack Collier > How Do You Decide If Social Media is Right For Your Business?