- Design for People
- Build for Consumption
- Engage for Results
This post is the 1st in a series of three that will outline 9 steps for designing and building a structure for using social media to effectively engage with people to grow your small business.
The process of achieving practical results with social media should be familiar to most entrepreneurs and small business owners: First you design, then you build, and when all of that is in place, you get out there and engage with customers!
This is the basis of every successful small business venture: Design, Build, and Engage – with customers!
- Design for People -
Solve Essential Problems
The first step in any marketing plan is understanding your target audience. I believe it is essential to define them as clearly as possible, using as many parameters as necessary.
Where are they located and what are their challenges? There is more to it than that, but that's a good start.
The temptation is to focus on location and seek to make everyone a customer. That's crazy. Drill down to what really matters. Do they hire companies like yours? If so, why? What has been their past experience?
And most importantly, why would they make a change now?
Social media can help you to uncover this information. Eavesdrop on your markets. Listen and learn. What is the buzz? If you happen to have a social media following now, reach out to learn what the current needs are.
You may be the best at what you do, but if your solutions do not match the needs of your targeted community, then its all wasted effort. Sometimes people think they know what they want, until they learn about something better.
That's where you can apply your experience.
Use your blog to establish your understanding of what's going on in the marketplace. Prospects want to know what's on the minds of your loyal customers. What's working? Use practical examples to show them, and never hesitate to let everyone know that you don't have all the answers.
Why? Because each and every customer thinks their needs are unique. Be respectful of that and you will learn a lot that will help you with your next prospect or customer.
Align Your Objectives with Community Needs
Focus on mutually beneficial relationships. What are the actions you want your community to take in exchange for your good work – both preliminary and long term?
Are you trying to build a community around your blog? Is your professional Facebook page the focus? Or are you trying to build your newsletter list?
All of this has to be integrated into a planned process. It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it will be more effective if it isn't.
You probably have developed a process that has evolved naturally that works for you. Then you try to grow, so you deviate from what was working. You may be experimenting with too much technology, or spreading your efforts too thin.
Go back to your initial plan that you designed. Use it to remind yourself about your community, how you planned to help them – and of course, what it is that you are trying to accomplish for your business.
Make decisions with the overall design of your structure in mind or you may meet with some painful results. For example, I get asked a lot to write articles, do podcast and videos, and more. While I enjoy doing all of that, I have to be sure it is mutually beneficial.
Remember that you are using social media to grow your small business.
Use the Same Language
Language … words, gestures, and everything else that we use to express ourselves, including how you dress, are all invitations to align – to becomes friends, and to work together.
If you expect to align with a community, you need to communicate that you understand them, and that includes your role for serving them.
When I worked in Oklahoma, y'all was a common expression that everyone used freely. Yet, it was clear to them that I was not originally from that area, so I had to be careful not to use it to suggest I was something I'm not.
Social media amplifies who we are. The language you use indicates whether you understand your customers. Do you use too much industry jargon? Even though I live in a world of technology, most of my customers understand that is not who I am.
My value to them is my twenty years of small business experience, and how I combine that with my interest in social media and technology.
While I work hard to stay current with technology, I am aware of the fact that my customers expect me to take what is best about it – what is practical, and to clarify it, so they can readily apply to their businesses.
Sometimes this isn't easy, which is why I've done a few posts already on social graphs, and why there will be more. Understanding this concept will be vital to your future success with social media.
How about you? How do you align with your community to solve their essential problems?
And how can you use social media to build a structure to clarify that expertise?
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Until tomorrow, Jeff