Making Social Media Work For Business

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There is no “right” social media plan that works every time for every business. The best approach seems to be one that is a mix of risk-taking and gathering information from those that do it well. Here are some tips from presentations at Social Media Week in Chicago by former Domino’s Pizza Chicago District Manager Ramon de Leon and Nissan Marketing Communications Director Erich Marx.

Be Relevant To People
Ramon de Leon’s marketing philosophy centers on the principle that people share what’s important to them. As a result, you (and/or your business) want to be important to your customers. All people do 3 common things: watch, listen, and share. Social media makes it easier to complete these 3 actions. He tries to make emotional based connections with people (customers or not) both in real life and online. He creates these personal connection videos as RamonWOW Moments. Likewise, Marx has established Nissan’s social media approach to be focused on interaction, not transactions. He strives for Nissan’s social media platforms to attract fans in hopes of converting them to owners and brand advocates.

How To Do It
Ramon de Leon believes social media can help you do almost anything when used correctly. He advises building relationships via social media in hopes of turning them into real-life connections. Photo sharing is a huge part of social media activity. He suggests taking photos at every event a company/organization takes part in, then posting them online for others to share. I can attest to that from my radio experience. Those that attend station events love seeing themselves online. Regardless of industry, you must make the effort to take, post, and share photos to help build connections with people. In addition, de Leon reiterates that all team members should know the importance of treating people well. This is done by training, educating, and inspiring team members.
sharablequoteErich Marx asks one question of every piece of content considered for Nissan social media platforms: “is it sharable?” He advises working with trusted, innovative partners when venturing into unfamiliar territory. You don’t have to do it all yourself; in fact, it is recommended to reach out to other business friends, bloggers, or influencers for advice prior to launching an innovative campaign. Separately, Nissan found great success in posting behind-the-scenes pictures of its Heisman House marketing campaign. As I’ve said many times people like “knowing how the sausage is made.”

Both de Leon and Marx caution that basic marketing rules still apply with digital platforms. Social media is a great complement to, not a replacement for, a business  plan.

Is It Working?
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of social media for business is its ROI (return on investment). De Leon says that return is based solely on what you choose to measure (likes, shares, sales, etc.). Similarly, Marx advises setting objectives then to measure against them. He believes ROI will eventually become clearer, but chooses instead to focus on COI (cost of ignoring). His COI rationale that while ROI is tough to quantify, there is certainly a cost of doing nothing.

original money image courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
original money image courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Other Notes
– de Leon credits social media for quelling customer backlash after a video of inappropriate Domino’s Pizza employees (elsewhere in the country) made national news
– de Leon responded to every blog he could find online and even re-tweeted negative tweets in order to establish trust and transparency
– Marx says one should be open to new and/or unexpected outcomes
– de Leon says social media allows every organization/company an opportunity to be its own media outlet for news
– Marx stresses if you solicit user-generated content, it must be very easy for user
– Marx says successful social media requires far more effort than simply creating a Facebook page

The Takeaway
You can’t be social without interacting with people, online or face to face. So, any social media plan not designed around people will fail. It seems so simple, yet reality shows that point ignored by many. Be creative, be innovative, and relate with people if you want success in social media.
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This is part of a series of posts featuring information presented at Social Media Week events Sept. 23-27 in Chicago. After attended some of the SMW sessions in Washington, DC events last spring, I participated in the Chicago sessions remotely.

Thumbnail Image: A collection of social media icons. (Geralt/Pixabay)

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