I have watched with interest how organisations that operate in the Social Media sector .. and I have some observations about how to define your strategy
Lets start with the function of Social Media ….
Social Media is not a direct influence or sales path …. it is a tool to build a contact .. to build a relationship and ultimately to add to an experience of your brand from which you can then leverage, while you continue to add value to the overall experience.
Social Media is the Internets replacement in this insular world for your sphere of influence … you community, your friends, and those organisations that you are interested in engaging with.
Social Media has been hyped up to the point where people are living their life in this cyber space instead of the real world … please take note … Social Media is not your life, and the most important people in your life, are not on Twitter ! Well they shouldn’t be … professionally speaking I believe many mature bricks and mortar organisations would be more successful especially on Facebook if they de-activated their account – their strategy is all one sided, and is all about providing the information that they believe is important – which is not how you build a relationship .. One thing, numbers of Facebook does not means that they are actually listening to you … but on Twitter … I believe they are more engaged and therefore interested and note, the un-follow button on Twitter is a heart beat away.
In the early days, very early days on Twitter, on another account I did an experiment with that exact scenario .. and then changed the nature of the feed .. the response was immediate … that feed lost a large number of followers .. and note people remember … that … if you don’t value them .. well enough said
Now lets look at how to build influence
It is built by engagement and valuing the people you connect with, but you MUST speak with your own voice and from your own values …. if you do not offer up something of yourself then what makes you different than the thousands of voices of the Internet .. that say .. buy this .. do this .. see here … your strategy must be to enhance the experience of your followers … their world is made somehow brighter by following you on Twitter or any other Social Media channel, in other words you provide something they want in their life.
I have seen worthy organisations who are so focused on getting their message across, without seeing the other side of the picture …. you need to involve people in your world on a more personal basis or should I say your persona …. which on the Internet is not the same thing .. well it shouldn’t be. Also if you are speaking as the voice of a organisation, you need to follow strict protocols of how you engage … what you say .. and how you say it … bring your personal views of what they did, or how they have treated you is counter-productive and will lose you followers.
There are specific processes and strategies to interest, to engage, involve the customer / follower, to retain them and use that connection as a leverage to a wider audience … but so many are missing the mark here …. to start look at your own interests and those sites you follow and ask yourself, why am I interested in this information, and how do they retain my interest and how do they interest me enough, that I want to re-tweeted my message to my followers … this is a critical point … to a large extent I choose the people I follow and likewise unless I believe they overall experience of my feed will be enhanced and will add something to my message … I will not engage … so I this is how I value them by not devaluing our relationship – and therefore I will only re-tweet a message and content that I can relate to … and I believe my “friends” for want of a better world will find of value …. basically because I do.
At the end of the day … you need to remember on thing .. this is Social Media … it is not a one way passive “relationship” as in Mass Media, it is or at least it should be a engaged interactive relationship, that value and engage with your people … to build a joint experience, and note joint means together …. do not make the mistake of seeing your followers as a means to an end .. as the equivalent of email fodder … value them, respect them and you will succeed … don’t .. well we know what happens if you don’t.