Using Social Media as Your Business Laboratory

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One of the most powerful uses of social media is testing new ideas, surveying your marketplace, and otherwise experimenting with new ideas to build a knowledgebase for succeeding.

As a chemistry major in college, I spent more time in the lab than I care to remember. Chemistry trials and experiments take time – hours, days, and sometimes even weeks.  But if you expect to prove your hypothesis for achieving a particular result, you have to do the work. 

You have to experiment to learn.  In a business experiment, your laboratory is a marketplace.  Social media allows you to tap into that market to get almost instantaneous feedback.  And that allows you to make adjustments to improve how you serve your customers better. Here are some ideas for doing that.

Learn from Experience

If you have an hypothesis – an idea, and your customer base rejects it, you have to respond to that.  Is the problem with the validity of the idea, or your ability to communicate it?  Your marketplace will let you know if you ask them.

In my work with social media marketing, I find my ability to communicate is essential.  My small business clients are not prepared to invest as much time into this as I would like.  I have to show them how they can get results with minimal effort.  What is your greatest challenge? 

Every Problem Has a Solution

As with those arduously drawn-out experiments we conducted in the chemistry lab, you have to be persistent to find solutions that work.  Fortunately, the social networks operate with great speed.  This rapid-fire feedback allows you to experiment with multiple possibilities in a short period of time.  

Experimentation is trying new tactics and waiting for a result.  It's a form of listening. Listen well to your customers and they will lead you to the solutions that will make your company relevant – the logical choice.  In most circumstances, this means doing what others are not able or willing to do. 

Experiments Can Blow Up in Your Face

Life would be great if everything worked out as we planned. But it just doesn't work that way, does it?  If you can be willing to accept failure without emotion, then you are better equipped to move to on what does work.

We have all succumbed to the realization that our genius is not always appreciated.  Get over it.  Find what works and deliver on that.   But don't abandon your genius ideas.  This just may not be the right time for them.  Come back to them later.

Experiments Take Time

This week I hit a home-run with several clients.  Those moments of gratification are the result of losing sleep over the failures that preceded them.  If you believe your ideas are good, you owe it to yourself to stay the course.

Blogging is a perfect example of this.  For years I was asked why I was wasting my time with this nonsense.  Those challenges still ring in my mind from time to time.  While I still occasionally consider them, its up to me to make the final decision.  Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do.  Just make sure you have given your work sufficient time to prove its worth. 

Finding a Catalyst

A catalyst is a substance that accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.  On the social media networks, a catalyst for your company may be nothing more than a friend that recommends your work.  

Just because your hypothesis is not working, does not mean it is not valid.  You may only need one customer to prove it for your future customers.  Use this approach to assuage their doubts and catalyze a new mindset.

One of the greatest values of the social media networks is aggregating a community of fans that validate what you do – your price, your process, or whatever else needs to be validated. You cannot do this by collecting thousands of followers on Twitter.  Better to nurture a small group of fans that firmly stand behind you.

What This Means

Business success is a process.  It's an ongoing experiment.  It take time.  And sometimes it requires a catalyst to jump-start that process to get it moving.

Consider how you can use your social media networks as your laboratory.  Experiments fail – it's no big deal. If you continue to learn from those failures, and you are willing to stay the course, while also courageously realizing when its time to quit a bad proposition, you will more consistently achieve the results you are looking for.

My belief is most small businesses that give up on social media marketing do so because they have not fully considered all of their options. 

Social media marketing is a process. 

Work with it.  It's your laboratory.

Let me know how I can help you with your social media laboratory. Leave a comment and I'll respond.

Photo Credit: tk-link

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