If you missed Marta Kagan’s viral sensation titled “What the F**k is Social Media?” from a few years ago, or even if you did see it, you owe it to your business to take a look at her recent sequel. This one is called, appropriately enough, “What the F**k is Social Media: One Year Later.” The presentation includes some interesting numbers, such as Forrester’s finding that three out of four Americans use social technology, as well as statistics on the sheer amount of media being uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and others.
But some of the best bits are when she quotes thinkers like analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik and influential author Seth Godin. According to Kaushik, “Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s ﬁnally done there is surprise it’s not better.”
On the topic of blogs, Godin says, “The word blog is irrelevant. What’s important is that it is now common, and will soon be expected, that every intelligent person (and quite a few unintelligent ones) will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.”
The nugget of this presentation that’s most important to small business owners (as well as those who manage large national and global brands) is that social marketing is different from regular old marketing. Kagan quotes a social media study that found 93% of social media users think a company should have a presence in social media, but she goes on to say, “Believe it or not, that doesn’t mean that 93% of social media users think companies should treat social media as yet another channel for broadcasting bullsh*t.”
While in regular old marketing, companies are accustomed to telling customers what the company wants them to hear, social marketing requires listening as well as talking. It’s a conversation. A two-way street. A street with lots of traffic, where consumers are doing a lot of the driving.
When you talk to your customers and they talk back, it’s nearly impossible not to listen. And when you listen to what they have to say, you will probably feel the urge to respond to what your customers want.
The great news is that as a small company, you have an advantage over large companies in your ability to move quickly. You can respond more easily to what your customers are telling you. Large companies have a much bigger ship to turn around, and any significant change will require a zillion meetings for ideas to be vetted and consensus created. Your agility allows you to make sweeping changes on the turn of a dime.
If you are an entrepreneur and you’re not blogging or not joining social networks, it’s time to start. If you’ve joined the networks but never really figured out who to friend or what to tweet, it’s time to learn. And if you’ve already got a blog, and you post something new every few months whether you need to or not, it’s time to take it seriously and blog as a regular part of your daily or weekly routine.
If you have no idea how to start, get some help. A new Starter Cards deck called “Build Your Brand With Social Media” can walk you through the process one step at a time. Or get online and find what you need to know for free.
The important thing is that you get in there and start talking. And even more importantly, start listening.