Remember the terror while lying awake, afraid to fall asleep, waiting for the monster under your bed to snatch you away? I find, as an adult, I have a similar reaction to Social Media. I know the monster is under my bed but I don’t really know what to do with it. Is it friendly? Is it mean? Does the Monster want to be my friend or will it bait me with congenial overtures just to snatch me into the abyss forever? That may be a bit melodramatic, but think about all the unknowns that face your company when approaching the subject of social media and marketing in that arena. Sort of feels like the monster under your bed – lots of questions, anxiety, and a strategic plan that only a year ago was not part of your business model. Yes, a little scary. We have some insight on how to approach this uninvited guest and how to build a relationship with the unknown because that is what Social Media is all about, relationships. Though very different, it’s still a relationship – a relationship between your company and your customers, current and future. Most importantly, even if you cannot quite wrap your head around the concept of building a valuable, meaningful relationship with a member of a Facebook group, get over it! The legions of Tweeters, Facebookers, LinkedIners are your ambassadors, spreading the word about your company across the globe. It is time to seize this opportunity. Have a Plan – Set a Goal – Know Your Resources The first step is to have a plan. Like any other challenge, you need to have strategy before you go diving in. This is actually the most important step because interacting with your contacts in social media can be a huge time commitment. Managing the amount of time you spend on developing your network requires discipline. Also understand that your social media initiative is a long-term commitment – it takes time to find the right connections, build a following and nurture your fans. A plan of action is crucial, and patience is essential. The social media process is far different from getting a new brochure designed, printed and distributed. In other methods of marketing your follow-up can be controlled – you follow-up with key prospects and initiate the conversation. With social media, marketing is now a two-way conversation. Once you get started, set realistic goals on what your reach will be in 6-month, 12-months, etc. Keep good records of how many contacts actually result in a meaningful dialog or conversion, and be willing to try new things. Most importantly, keep your approach casual and conversational. Social Media, unlike traditional marketing methods, is more conversational and personal. Keep it loose. Know How to React Social Media, unlike many other marketing venues, is 24/7. Your customers are spreading the word constantly. Certainly, the larger corporations have a bigger monster to tame, but even the smallest contractor, in today’s social arena, can get slammed pretty fast with negative tweeting if a job is done poorly. Are you still frightened? You have every right to be, but we also have something to help. We have created a Social Media group on our Ning page for you to join to keep up on the latest news, as it changes almost daily. Check out www.rps123shoot.ning.com and join the Social Media Group today! Cynthia Sutt Creative Director

Categories: Marketing , Social Media