Yesterday, I gave a presentation about social media marketing to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Ottawa chapter. For me, the best part of presentations is at the end when we can communicate with questions and discussion. The audience’s observations suggest the points I make in the book remain valid: Social media is not a magic bullet marketing solution, but can really enhance and improve your business if you are doing everything else correctly (and can really accelerate your business destruction if you don’t get it right).
One kitchen designer, for example, explained her recent success on Houzz.com, a site focusing on renovations and home design. She said she answered a question about a design challenge, referenced some photo examples, and the thread grew, with other questions and observations. Later in the discussion, the original poster asked for guidance on where to find a qualified designer and the local (Ottawa) designer suggested the person look up the NBKA chapter in her area. However, the Houzz.com user instead elected to contract with the Ottawa designer. . . . a worthy client obtained simply by courteously answering questions on an online social media site.
Of course this sort of anecdotal example doesn’t in itself result in a quantifiable and replicable level of “value” for social media engagement on a larger scale, though it provides plenty of clues about how to handle things properly. You need an engaged, human touch — autobots won’t do the job, nor will offshore “comment posters” spamming the forums and boards. You also need to put your selling message aside and instead focus on what you can give and share.
There are other lessons here, as well. If you are in a professional service or have expertise, the opportunity for live presentations to client-audiences should not be under-rated, as well. I didn’t go into this presentation expecting to sell much advertising for our regional construction and renovation publications and really have nothing to sell when it comes to pure social media marketing. However, relationships and reputation count for a lot. I offered audience members a free copy of the e-book on social media marketing in exchange for their business card, and collected about a dozen cards.
- Social media is really effective, if it reflects your underlying business “goodness” and can be really damaging if you are playing a scuzzy game;
- Human, individual sharing is far more important than any canned pitch. I believe that for most companies, the best approach is to assign one or two office-based employees who have a good reputation and really know the business to be the organization’s social media ambassadors (using services such as nimble.com or HootSuite to monitor social media channels);
- Live speaking is often the most effective route to business building.