We discuss social media essentials because of the intrigue there exists with everyone jumping onto the bandwagon, and many who do not understand what to do, give us a call to discuss the very basics. “We want to make use of social media in our business strategy, and connect with the world. How can we do it?”
This is a question which often foxes us. And that’s because social media is different for everyone. And we know that you will be swimming mid-stream in social media before you know it. And because, we best learn only after diving in, we do not think it is right on our part to resist your jump, even though we often suggest “think before you leap”. But if you’re in it, it is definitely time to find direction and move forward. So what are the essentials?
Once you’ve decided that you want to be using social media to spread your message to a wider audience, it’s basically time to get started. If you are aware of the perils of tweeting without planning, you might want to spend some time with planning. But the best method is to calculate your existing footprint, understand where you can ask for help, and who will be ready to patronise you as you take step forward. And then take a leap.
The most beautiful aspect of social media is that there are no defined rules for success in your strategy. You might get to meet consultants who will say you need to have a website first in order to funnel traffic to it, while you might find your friends getting started using numerous other methods. We can cite tens of different examples where people have got started without having a website. If you have a product to sell, you could get started without even having a name. And your success is basically a function of where you feel happy. It’s not about a game of numbers or making profit. It could be an investment towards your future. If you are a politician, social media could simply be an avenue to connect with your voters. Depending on the need at hand, how you feel comfortable, you are the one who is going to define your own set of rules.
News spreads like wild fire in the social media arena. There are analysts sitting out there, who are constantly watching for any moving trends in the space. And as soon as a strategy reveals any form of success, they start talking about it, to gain mileage. And before you know it, there are ten other players or more in the market, who are implementing the very same deal. Which means, every strategy heads towards early saturation in the marketplace, leaving little room for competition without making significant investment. Therefore, where you stand to gain advantage is only when you are different from others.
But when you have an idea that’s different, the best way forward is to validate your strategy. And because you will not be having any test cases to weigh your assumptions against, it is best to create a pilot and validate it for correctness. Let’s say, you have a product that you think no one else is selling on facebook. Now, instead of asking around and spreading the word about the demand for the product, why not create a small page and ask your friends to publicise it. If you make a sale, you’re gaining traction.
The moment you have validated your assumption, it is time to strive forward. Remember, there are no set rules, and you have to be different. Do not look around at what’s happening. Whether people are following your strategy or if someone is out there to copy what you’re doing. Facts are, if you are successful, there will be numerous people who will rush to copy what you are doing. The trick is to simply stay ahead of the pack and keep the numbers rolling.
The last part, and the most essential part of any strategy is to invest in innovation. The competitive edge you establish by being different once, is not going to last very long. Whether you are a small player, or a big one, you are bound to face heat from competition. When Hotmail started offering free e-mail services, the space soon got occupied by Yahoo! and AOL. They competed with each other over features such as chat, folders, storage space and POP access – many of which we will consider absolutely redundant today. And that was because during the heat, Google came along and offered a service that offered folder-free organisation of emails that we would never have to delete. They bent the rules of the game with innovation, offering nearly unlimited amount of storage space, so the end user did not ever have to delete a single email. Another interesting factor to note is, while Google implemented a strategy that sounds almost unbeatable, the reason they remain ahead of the market today, is because they have continued to innovate. With products that are targeted at the enterprise, and a whole suite of applications that provide users with productivity enhancement tools, search and even operating environments, they strive to remain ahead of the pack through innovation. And this should be an important part of your strategy.
The landscape is fresh, and growing phenomenally each day. What you chose to do with social media entirely depends on you, your industry and your vision for the future. The earlier you grab onto the essentials of the industry and make things click, the sooner results will be available for you.