How Long Is This Social Media Thing Going To Take?

Otherwise entitled, “Where Are My Sales Already?  Yeesh.”

We have the amazing opportunity to work with so many incredible clients.  It’s part of what we love most about this kind of work.  Many of our clients are new to social media, and so we’re often asked some variation of the same question:  “Just how long is this social media thing going to take?”

As you already know from reading our blog regularly (wink), 2010 was the first year business as a whole completely embraced social media, spending more on digital advertising than print advertising for the first time in history.  So, there’s a lot of hype about social media right now.  The rumor is spreading like wildfire that social media is the be all and end all, easy and free marketing technique that will not only save your business in this questionable economy — it will bring you lots of customers and big bucks while you just sit back and watch it all roll in.

While we are obviously the first in line to tout the benefits of social media marketing, those are not them.  It’s just not true that the simple act of creating a Facebook page or Twitter account is like a giant “ON” switch in the Cloud, opening the flood gates of effortless financial and entrepreneurial success.  Here’s what is true:

1) Social media and online marketing are just like any other form of marketing. Would you put a bare-bones advertisement in the newspaper, then proceed to sit by your phone waiting for it to work?  Absolutely not.  This is no different.  Social media and online marketing must be an integrated part of your overall marketing strategy, and they must be engaging.

2)  Social media is only successful if you act like you’re creating a real relationship with your consumers. Because, in fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing.  There’s a reason it’s called “social” media.  In real life, would you think it reasonable to meet someone in a public place for the first time, then expect them to immediately give you all their contact information, follow you around and be loyal to you at all costs?  No way!  It’s no different on social media, but if you’re expecting immediate results with minimal effort, that’s what you’re asking from your consumers.  Connecting with your consumers on social media is just like being in a real life relationship.  There must be a reason for you to connect to begin with, then you must prove that you’re an engaging, trustworthy and worthwhile friend.  That takes both time and effort.

3)  Trial and error are the only way to find your sweet spot. Every business is different, every market is different and every consumer is different.  So, the social marketing techniques that work for one business will not necessarily work for another.  It takes time to find the perfect online marketing recipe for your business, because you are unique.  You have to try one approach, give it time, measure results, then adjust your efforts…and then rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved perfection.

So, just how long will this social media marketing thing take, anyway? As a general guideline, expect your initial social media marketing efforts to take at least 6 months before you see any kind of response from your consumers.  Obviously, this number can vary greatly, and the more you promote your social media in real life to your current and prospective customers, the better.

Have you found these things true in your business’s social media efforts?  Let us know in the comments!

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This Is Your Social Media Resolution For 2011

This time of year, the internet is rife with predictions and resolutions for the new year. There are so many out there, and so many good ones, that we haven’t felt compelled to repeat much of the information, choosing instead to share them with you via our Facebook and Twitter accounts. There is one resolution, however, that is so incredibly important, we wanted to not only repeat it, but highlight it for you, so you’ll implement it into your online marketing strategies this year. What could possibly be that important, you may wonder? Well, here it is:

Tell people about your social media sites.

When we are new to the social media game, it’s tempting to setup our social media sites, then sit back and wait for people to flock to them naturally, as we inevitably expect. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where myth wins over education for folks who are new to social media. While you will, of course, get a few followers naturally, you have to actively work to build the rest. If you’re one of our clients, we do much of this for you. But, just as social media is an addition to your marketing strategy and not the whole enchilada, building social media followers must be done offline, as well as on.

Think about it this way: when you built or commissioned your business’s first website, did you just put it up and wait for people to find it? No way! You told people about it. You put it on your invoices, letterhead, business cards, vehicle magnets, t-shirts, and absolutely any other place that came to mind. You have to treat social media the same way. To build your social media followers with quality and quantity, you absolutely must tell people about it in real life, every chance you get. That means, you put your Facebook and Twitter addresses on your invoices, letterhead, business cards, vehicle magnets, t-shirts, print newsletters and anywhere else that comes to mind. There’s no such thing as overdoing it, because the more people that see it, the more likely they are to follow you.

This resolution has an added bonus, too. When you tell people about your social media sites offline, or in real life, you will, for the most part, be telling people who are already customers and clients — people who already love you. There’s no need to sell to them; they will follow you because they already utilize your products or services. These same people will be a huge asset to you online, because they will be the ones with brand loyalty. They will be the ones most likely to share your posts and suggest you to their friends. And that, in the end, is really what the social media game is all about.

Thank You.

You know, we’re really kind of lucky.  We get to come to work every day and be elbows deep in a field that’s always changing and always exciting.  There’s always something new and ingenious right around the corner, and so we spend every day learning and growing and doing things better than the day before.  We are sort of like explorers of old, venturing into new places every single day.  We absolutely love our work, and everything that goes with it, and recognize how totally lucky we are to be doing what we do, right here and right now.

As you probably know, we opened our doors earlier this year.  We absolutely could not have asked for a better 2010.  We’ve got an awesome workspace, rockstar employees we’ve picked up along the way, and really amazing clients.  So, as we make our way through this last week of 2010 and into what is sure to be an incredible 2011, we won’t use this last blog of the year to make predictions or resolutions.  Instead, we will use this time to pause and say — thank you.

Thank you for everything:  for supporting us, for reading our posts, for checking out our screencasts.  You are awesome.  Here’s to you, and here’s to exploring the online and social media marketing world together in 2011.
Happy New Year!
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