The hype around social networking has reached a fevered pitch and that should be warning enough to stop and take a closer look. A big part of the SMB interest in social networks is the irresistible allure and appeal of the numbers and dollars; potentially huge followings that are interested in you, your products, brand, culture and of course, want to buy your stuff.
Here’s the rub: achieving this nirvana has so far been limited to a few handfuls of mega brands and trying to imitate them could be economic suicide. It is almost as if social networking is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t proposition. The ‘perception’ pressures are enormous: if you don’t ‘social network’ then you aren’t with it. If you do and do it half-assed, then the ‘perception’ is equally bad.
Social Networking ‘Things’
Big brands like Pepsi and Red Bull… organizations that attract numbers in the millions are plowing up the social network fields. So if they can do it, why not SMB’s? Well the why nots make for an interesting conversation of ‘things’. As an individual, micro business or SMB, missing any of the following ‘things’ could have a dramatic affect on the success of your social network investments.
- Cultural Thing: Today’s population is a mosaic (pardon the intended pun) of cultures, rarely one taking the commanding lead. However, branding your company with a culture is extremely valuable. Without strong cultural branding, will your social media have any significant impact?
- Generational Thing: it is a multi-generational thing. Big brands go far beyond the obvious as generational interests are not constrained or limited by traditional age brackets e.g. Grandma is having a blast with her IPad as is her granddaughter. Heck, she probably bought it for her granddaughter. As a SMB, good luck figuring out how to get into that conversation.
- Segmented Thing: It is multi-segmented and here’s what makes that interesting: the more segmented your market, the better the conversation you can carry on. Look at Red Bull: multi-everything and multi segmented via dozens of really interesting sports venues, each with a rabid fan following. Conversations here are damn interesting if you are a specific segmented follower and publisher e.g. messages and conversations that are segmented tend to be noticed and generate greater followings.
- Categorical Thing: Yes it is very categorical to be ultimately relevant but it is not so obvious. Carrying on a conversation with an automaker would predict you are in the market for a car. This is categorically correct and very cool if your organization can craft interesting messages and conversations. Costly too.
- Time Thing: Do you have the dedicated resources to be so interesting? Or, like me, is all your time consumed with running the business? There is no part time, something maybe this week approach to commercialized social networking. Also: does your target followers have the time? If they are like me running their business, probably not.
- Multi-Platform Thing: It is really tough to have a multi-presence conversation on a single platform or network. Each has it’s own methodology, message style, culture and design appeal.
- Money Thing: Ha! Do you really believe the hype all this was cheap, almost ‘free’. It takes enormous sums of liquid cash to support a marketing budget to create, sustain and maintain a social media following. How liquid: it’s practically measured by the hour. Don’t forget the FREE part to keep your followers connected: add on to your budget promotions and discount offers to keep them coming for more.
Social Networking: Is it for you?
How many mega brand companies are like Red Bull? How many companies have a following that interesting? Can a SMB like mine carry on such interesting and dynamic conversations with millions… thousands…maybe hundreds or is it only a few dozen followers.
MosaicCRM Experts Corner
Fitting social networking into CRM and vice-versa is totally possible, even preferred over having a second ‘social network’ database. Managing and collecting social network data and transposing this into your CRM program is radically different from the traditional historical based ‘interaction-transaction’ type recording.
Depending on the number of followers and how they are segmented with ‘the things’ will help to set the groundwork for more proactive communication routines within your CRM platform.
- Social networking requires you to adapt CRM to recognize the instant real time data and transpose this into live response data
- More than ever customer centric response models are vital: Re-engineer your CRM to optimize this closed loop marketing process
- Evaluate the type and degree of customer information needed to assist sales efforts in this medium
- Use CRM to spread the results of the customer experience within your organization
Written by Bill Noonan, Founder and CEO of MosaicCRM.
I welcome your inquiries, questions and comments.