Small businesses get lots of mixed messages about what the “magic bullet” is in terms of marketing their products. Twenty years ago, when I started my Northampton gym, people said you absolutely must have a website to be considered legitimate. Today it’s “you must have 5,000 ‘likes’ on your Facebook page.” All day, every day, I field questions from clients or even people in passing about how I use social media marketing for my businesses. It seems to be a phenomenon that people are still only just getting to grips with. In fact, I get SO many questions that I thought I’d take some time to try and answer a lot of them here.
One of the biggest misconceptions about social media marketing is that it will heal a bad reputation or a rubbish product. Some people are so resistant to social media for business, and I could never understand why. When I was finally able to get to the bottom of it, it turns out that most people are worried that people will say bad things about them, their company or their products.
Let me be blunt.
If your company is failing, because of a bad reputation or bad products, all that social media will do for you is get that message out to the public faster.
If you think that social media is going to solve your internal issues, you might as well think that putting a bad driver behind a nicer, faster car will make them a better driver. In the end, the driver is the problem—no matter what car they’re driving.
Nothing will bring your issues to the surface like being involved with social media. If you’re aware that your company has major service or product issues, you absolutely must fix those issues before you launch into a full-fledged social media marketing campaign. If you’ve not established a way to monitor the chat about your company and brand you need to set up a Google alert and start monitoring what’s being said, at the very least. Customers are quick to learn that the fastest way to air their grievances are through your company’s social media channels. They’ll post their problems with your business on your Facebook timeline as well as using twitter, and if you’re not there to catch and respond to them, it can snowball into a total nightmare.
However, if you are there listening, it’s a wonderful way to learn of issues that you might never have known of before. Who better to tell you what’s great or what’s broken with your products or services than the very customers that you’re selling them to? Use the feedback that they are giving you to begin to fix the problems. Showing people that you’re willing to address and fix your issues is a good step in a positive direction to getting and keeping your customers smiling.
Never be afraid of the power of social media—just be prepared to respond quickly to your current and future customers. There will be times when people only want to complain and have no interest in actually being helped, but those times are few and far between.