A lot of marketers are still intimidated by social media.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of clear direction out there for how to use it, how to track it and how to make it effective.  It doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Think of social media as just another way to have a conversation with your target base.  These conversations used to happen only in a coffee shop, with the stranger seated beside you on an airplane or in your backyard as you chat with your neighbor.  Social media just provides a way for people to connect with a larger group of people with similar interests or backgrounds and have those conversations more broadly.  If you approach social media as a marketer the same way you would if you just happened to be seated by one of your targets on an airplane, it should be very clear what to do.

First, have a conversation.  A conversation implies give and take, not one-way broadcasting of messages.  And not canned elevator speeches.  A conversation is a two-way communication about something of value or interest to both parties.  Provide some interesting information or valuable stats to your targets.  Ask them for their input or experiences.

Also, it should be obvious, but don’t just sell them.  No one wants to be stuck beside the used car salesman who is trying to sell them a car they don’t want on a 4 hour plane ride.  If I find you have a genuine need for what I can provide and offer up information about it – that’s different.  You would be interested in discussing that.  But to find that out, you first have to find out more about the other person.

Finally, you need to make sure you are being either relevant or entertaining in some way to keep their interest.  How long would I stand and talk to you if you droned on about a topic of no interest to me?  Attention spans online are even shorter, because I don’t feel the need to stand and nod politely while you talk – it’s much easier to walk away.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought as you continue to navigate the murky waters of social media.