A couple of weeks ago there was a great discussion about social media marketing usage among association management companies on LinkedIn’s AMCI group.
No one argued the merits of engaging in social. The key take-away to this discussion was how social marketing has changed the amount of time dedicated to our jobs and the immediacy with which we react. Not only do building connections and relationships take time but so does building a readership on a blog or building a fan base or followers. There are “tricks” that can help you achieve this faster but no loyal community occurs overnight. For a group that represents its clients in social media (or for those of you who had to “persuade’ your organization to try social media), it’s necessary to communicate these expectations to your stakeholders. So many of us have been bamboozled by the term “viral” that we expect instant success just because we write one great blog post or 140 characters worth of the kind of brilliance that has never before graced the world. But in reality only a handful of people win the social media “viral” lottery and the odds aren’t good enough to stake your whole social media strategy on Oprah re-tweeting you.
I’ve been writing for thirty years (getting paid to do it for about sixteen of them) and that’s long enough to know that I still can’t tell with one hundred percent certainty which posts readers will re-tweet the life out of and which will find readership in only a handful of silent lurkers. Like the myth of going viral, it’s important to share with your stakeholders (and staff) that not every post is going to skyrocket to super stardom. Some will only be enjoyed quietly and possibly mentioned in actual human conversation that you may never hear. (I understand this form of interaction does still exist.) But blog on you must.
Another expectation to manage is that of the clock. Social and community occurs round the clock. Internationals, night-owls, uber-addicted careerists, etc., can comment, interact and post at all hours throughout the week. Your social networking “team” needs to be prepared for this. How they manage it depends on your organization and industry. In some cases, forwarding direct messages from your Twitter account to your cell phone makes sense. In others, musical notification of such would cause your mobile device to explode like a constant symphony of noise. Talk about response rates for social inquiries. Put together a social media plan. Decide how you will monitor, who will do so and when. Remind those monitoring and responding that most of us think that 24-hours going by without any kind of recognition is unacceptable and just like a child who feels like mom or dad is not listening, many of us try to get attention by getting “louder.”
“Going social” is something that takes time and dedication — as much as you’ll give it. Marketing used to be a very one-sided relationship. We chose the words we wanted to use, the form in which they took/the vehicle and disseminated it when we wanted to. The closest we got to caring about input was when it effected the bottom line by a decline in memberships or sales. If those things were effected maybe we asked a random sampling of our friends or family what they thought and then ultimately we rationalized that people were not rational. Social media marketing incorporates a completely different world view, on a completely different time table. It’s difficult. It may involve a difference of opinion in how your members view your efforts versus how you view what you’re doing. But we are lucky to have the available feedback as we can customize our offerings and decide what blog posts interest our audience.
A conversation with yourself is easy. Chances are you’re always going to agree but when you create a dialogue it’s going to bring out a better you and ultimately a better organization.