I had the pleasure of hearing Steve Rockman serve on a panel a few weeks ago at a Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic event in Philadelphia. He was so dynamic that I knew we had to speak…and speak we did! Steve, SVP of Digital Strategy at The Star Group, is a wealth of information on social media. I hope you find his insights as valuable as I did!
When I first asked Steve if he saw his clients trending toward integrating social media, he first and foremost made the point that he refers to it as “social influence marketing”. I couldn’t agree more. Because that is exactly what businesses aim to do; influence. Steve went on to say that most companies are starting to realize that they absolutely should be using social media but many find it hard to know where to begin.
Most importantly, he said, for a brand with little to no online presence, creating a strong Facebook or Twitter page is more important than focusing efforts on developing a company website. Without an established audience, that cool website you spent so much time on will go unnoticed. Creating an online community must come first in order to then drive traffic to your site.
Lacking an online presence is an obstacle faced by many small or mid-sized businesses looking towards social media. Steve left me with five things for retailers to keep in mind:
Authenticity trumps celebrity– Consumers will respond more to honest, personal messaging than to marketing jargon or an endorsement from a celebrity. People trust their peers more than someone perceived as a “mouthpiece” for a brand.
Niche is the new norm– You have to know where to find your audience. Would you rather talk to 50 of the right people or 5,000 of the wrong people? You are not trying to reach a mass market but rather, a niche market.
Bite-sized communication– With Twitter’s character restrictions, you have to get creative. Learn how to create concise, relevant messaging that a consumer can take in a little at a time.
Personal utility drives adoption– Consumers will choose what is relevant to them on a highly personal level. It is the community who is at your core, not the company.
Consumers own your brand– You do not own your brand anymore. Consumers have available resources to speak freely about your brand, whether doling out praise or complaining. It only takes a few bad reviews to tarnish your name. To this point, Steve recommends typing your company name next to the word “sucks” in Google and seeing what comes up. You may be surprised at what you see. This then presents an opportunity to reach out and mend relationships.
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