This may be a repeat post… but I really need to emphasize this. I've watched several companies stumble all over social media strategies. They eventually abandoned it altogether. The question I couldn't get them to answer was why had they attempted in the first place?
I like to think of social media as an amplifier… an incredibly powerful amplifier. If you have a solid foundation of public relations and marketing, and are covering both acquisition and retention effectively, your great work will really stand out as you begin to engage and build a reputation online. If you have a mediocre PR and Marketing strategy, social media could destroy it.
My 5 Myths of Social Media Marketing
- Social media replaces a website. You still need a place to capture leads and draw attention to your company's products or services.
- Social media replaces email marketing. Email is a push method that informs customers and prospects when you need them to be contacted. In fact, Social Media requires much more email communication to keep social site users coming back. Think about all the email you get from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!
- Social media's high usage means it's a great place to advertise. Social media is not something to throw ads on top of, it's something to be communicated from within. Too many companies pour money into banner ads and textual advertising in social media sites where the users have no intent of ever purchasing.
- Social media impact can't be measured. Social media impact can be measured, it's simply more difficult to measure the impact. You'll need to employ a robust analytics package – perhaps with a social media integration, or figure out how to effectively deploy code from your current analytics package to capture leads and conversions from social media.
- Social media is simple, you just do it. NO! Social media is not simple. Imagine being at a lunch party and speaking over your products and services with a prospect. He smiles, you smile, he asks a question, you say all the right answers… you pay for lunch… you grab his trust. Online, you never see them coming, you never know where they've been, you don't know anything other than the fact that they're probably more knowledgeable than you are.
Social media is building trust with someone that you may have never have met. It's difficult, it takes time… it's a marathon, not a sprint. Social media fails many companies because they underestimate the resources and time it takes to build the momentum. They don't realize that it's a long-term investment, not a short-term strategy.
With a strategy, you can explode out the gate and grow your business well beyond expectations. Without it, you may wind up throwing in the towel.
This is the reason why Southwest Airlines and Zappos can succeed with Social Media, but United Airlines and DSW aren't doing as well. Southwest Airlines and Zappos were fantastic, customer-focused companies before social media evolved to this point. United Airlines may never be able to adopt a social media strategy given their legalize and stodgy leadership.
As a panelist today at Real Estate BarCamp Indianapolis, you could see the range of agencies and brokers right in the room. Some, like good friend and client Paula Henry (both Roundpeg and DK New Media help her), are sprinting so far ahead that they've actually cancelled all traditional media and are fully online. Paula's problem isn't how to get leads… it's how to keep her social media strategy at the pace it is at while working all of her leads.
Others in the room were still working behind the curve… no twitter, no facebook, no online persona, no search engine optimization, no blogging, etc. It's not too late for these folks to build an effective online marketing strategy… but it is too early to have them jump into a Social Media strategy in my humble opinion.
Newcomers need to learn how to walk before they ride. They need an effective web site that can attract traffic and provides contact information to engage with the realtor. They need to research and utilize keywords that are have impact in the region they serve – including neighborhoods, zip codes, cities, counties, school districts, etc. They need to employ an email newsletter to keep in touch with leads and previous clients. They need to deploy Real Estate mobile solutions to replace the fliers they keep stuffing in front of properties.
Social media can provide an incredible volume of leads into your sales funnel… but you must have the sales funnel in place, measuring the impact of the results, and regularly working your marketing program to nurture and capture leads and customers. Social media comes next… amplifying an incredibly effective marketing program and beginning to ripple out as authority and transparency grows.