Twenty years ago, those of us in the business world began hearing that we needed to create a website for our business. Frankly this confounded a number of business owners. They asked, “Why would I need a webpage for my business when everyone either calls or comes in now?” And they were right – right then. But a few savvy businesses bucked the trend and began building webpages for their businesses. They didn’t see any results from that effort for several years. But sitting here in 2010 we all know that a web presence is often more important than maintaining an actual storefront.
The same thing is true today for social media. A few savvy businesses understand that the future of marketing exists with social media, and they are participating in it regularly. Just like those pioneering businesses in the 1990s, many aren’t seeing results from their efforts on their bottom-line the minute they open their Facebook page. But the impact of participation in social media is undeniable.
Brands that participate in Facebook and Twitter know more about their customers, fans, and detractors than they ever have before. They get regular feedback from their customers on what they are doing well – and what they can improve on. They know why their customers like them. They know what their customers want from them in the future. And they have a real connection with their customers that goes well beyond any advertising medium created in the past.
The price of entry? Time, trust, and commitment.
- Social media isn’t fast. It takes at least 90 days, and often more like 180 days to begin to feel like you’re having a conversation with your fans and not just whistling in the wind.
- It takes being consistent, regularly posting engaging comments, 5 out of 7 days on Facebook and 5-10 posts a day on Twitter.
- It takes being willing to be “social” and rave about your community. No one likes a self-absorbed person, and fewer like a self-absorbed brand. Show an interest in the world around you.
- It takes being willing to brave a possible negative remark, just as you would handle it if you received the feedback in person. Apologize, listen, fix it, and thank them for their feedback.
- It takes faith to believe that it will payoff for you in the end. With social media – you get out of it what you put into it.
Truthfully, a relatively low price of entry – but a huge psychological one. If you’re willing to pay the price, you’ll be able to reap the rewards and be well ahead of the game when social media becomes as mainstream tomorrow as web pages are today.