Let’s suppose for a moment that we are builders who follow the latest trends. We learn of a new shiny tool, a new trendy saw. And news reports, bloggers, the home improvement stores, and shows are all clamoring about this saw. We decide we have to get this saw; it’s going to “revolutionize” our business. This supposed saw will allow us to save time, and can do many things more than just simply cut wood. So…we meet and decide that although we are not trained carpenters, we can use the saw ourselves to build an entire house. Our shiny new toy is the answer to everything. We are so excited about this new shiny object that we decide to go over to the building site and just start building without any plans. And after a day or so, when things do not go the way the media promised – or the way we expected – we abandon the saw, casting it aside forever.
By now you are probably thinking: a) I have lost my mind, b) this is far too extreme. However in essence this is the way many businesses approach social media. It is the shiny new tool that is not integrated into the marketing toolbox; rather, it becomes the toolbox. Many businesses choosing this approach have the shiny new tool, but no plan on how to use it, no safety guidelines, or even training. And quite frankly, it should be no surprise when their efforts do not deliver in the way they had hoped.
There is no denying social media is the shiny new tool for many businesses, yet it should not be the only tool in the toolbox. As you start to consider adding social media to your marketing mix, here are a few things you might want to consider:
1) Just as you would not build a house without a blueprint, you need a strategy for your social media.
2) Social media is the right tool for the right job. A shiny, powerful saw is the right tool for cutting different types of materials, but it is not the only tool for the job.
3) Social media is more like a socket wrench you need the right fitting to tighten the nuts and bolts. It’s important that you know what medium (Facebook, Twitter, geo-location applications, blogging, etc) is right for your intended audience.
4) Patience – just as building a house takes time and patience, so does building a smart social media campaign or movement.
5) Finally, with the right strategy, tools, people and training, you can build anything.
As marketers, I believe we are also builders; it’s just the end product that is different. And to that end, just as a home builder carefully chooses their strategy, tools, and team, we should be just as intentional about how we approach social media. Social media is the shiny tool but we should not forget our other tools. Our job is to deliver the right message, in the right time, to the right people, and I would add, via the right medium. So embrace the new shiny tool, learn all you can about it and use it wisely, but do not forsake your other tools as that could prove costly and disappointing for you and your customers.