For years we’ve heard, “Advertising doesn’t work.” “No one cares what you have to say about your company.”
And now we’re starting to hear that social media doesn’t work. At least I am.
My firm has been advising companies on creating and implementing their social media strategies for a number of years now. The more I work with our clients, the more I realize that some businesses are able to hit the ground running, while it takes others awhile to ramp up.
“The Formula” Appears
To figure out why some companies take off faster than others, I started tracking the key elements of the companies that were winners straight out of the gate. I knew I was in the right business the first time I worked with a client that had “the formula”. We took the client through our normal strategic methodology. We implemented with the expected consistency and efficacy for which we had become known; and we got stellar results.
You see, early on we realized that social media success came down to a highly structured approach once “the formula” was identified. But, if the formula was hidden or had to be unearthed, social media was ineffective at best.
Business owners come to us eager to talk about the myriad of ways social media can improve their business. For many, social media is seen as a silver bullet. They read case studies of wild success and think the same thing can happen to them. But, again, without “the formula”, social media is just words on a page.
So, what’s the formula? It is having an opinion AND having something to say. Read that again to make sure you’ve got it.
The average person thinks that both of those elements are the same, but they’re vastly different. Having an opinion means that you don’t waffle; right, wrong or indifferent, you have a distinct thought about where you stand on most any issue. Having something to say means that your target market cannot find the expertise you provide anyplace else.
The Formula in Action
One of the first examples of the formula in action was a business coach.
- She had a distinct way of advising her clients -- they could count on her for the straight, honest, unabashed truth.
- She had a VERY impressive background and her clients loved working with her.
- She was very clear about who she was, who she worked with, and what the majority of her clients needed to do to move their businesses up a rung.
All this and she still didn’t have the reach she needed to take her own business to the next level. There was something missing.
She was missing a platform. She didn’t have a strong platform from which to share her potent advice and client success stories. And, I just happened to be the person who could provide her with a bright, shiny platform -- social media.
The Moral of the Story
I took an around-the-barn approach to impress upon you that without steak there can be no sizzle. I’ve never seen a business owner completely fail at using social media because they only posted to their blog twice a week instead of three times. I have, however, seen hundreds of businesses eat social media dust because they didn’t have an opinion. It’s quite difficult to create a platform (social media or otherwise) for a middle-of-the-road parrot.
There are some exceptions to the formula:
- Money can buy you temporary mindshare, but it won’t buy it forever if you don’t have something to say.
- If there are two companies that are both without “the formula”, the one who can be more consistent with blog posts, podcasts or Tweets will win. Consistency is key -- even if you’re not saying much.
- The company with a fun and engaging brand that doesn’t take themselves too seriously will win over the buttoned-up company. Social media is SOCIAL; if you can be more approachable, chances are you’ll be the belle of the ball.
We have been successful because we’re now able to recognize the companies that have “the formula” and provide them with a social media-based platform. Sure, it takes a tad bit of technical skill, but the seed of success was always there with the client. There’s no hocus pocus.