You’ve just started a small business or a non-profit organization or maybe you’ve been around for awhile, but you think you need to jump into social media right now to let the world know you exist.
It’s tough giving time to all the social media outlets, so maybe you’ve decided to get some of your staff or volunteers involved in helping you ‘spread the word’. Great Idea! But do you know what they are going to say? Have you sat down with them and discussed ‘The Message’? If not, you may have too many voices speaking for you and some confusing or conflicting messages being spread.
Even with the best of intentions, people may let their own voice slip through and then you will end up either doing some quick dance moves to explain ‘what they really meant’ or you will have to clear up the confusion of what I call the ‘message jam’ – too many different messages converging on one spot and hopelessly stuck.
Never fear! You’re the message cop. You’re in control. You can keep your information organized before it becomes a mess by using this four-point strategy.
What do you want people to know?
Maybe you want the general public to know who you are because you’re new in town (or on the Internet) or you want your clients or those you help to know about a new service you’re offering. Maybe you’ve been around for awhile but people still don’t know your offerings or perhaps you’re wanting to provide information on a particular topic or issue that will help them make better decisions. Decide what you want people to know and make certain anyone who will be helping you spreads the same word. Consistency builds trust and confidence as well as getting the right information out.
Who do you want to know?
Are you trying to reach the world or just your current clients. This will help in deciding your forum. If you’re just trying to reach current clients or those in a particular network, then a newsletter may be the way to go. You create a selective address list and send out the same message. If you have different clients, this still gives you the ability to modify your message so that you can send out the right message to different clients. This is especially effective for a local business or organization.
Perhaps you’re trying to reach a wider audience or newer clients. A basic website may give you the opportunity to reach more of the world while still staying in touch with your current clients. You can even create a special area on your website for only clients to access where you can deliver that tailored message you created for your newsletter.
If you’ve set no boundaries for your small business or organization and you’re wanting to connect with other similar venues, Facebook or a blog may the right forum. This will allow you to engage with the community at large as well as your clients, giving you the ability to get your message out and to get constructive feedback as well as to gain new clients. For quick, important messages or alerts, a Twitter account will let you reach people quickly when you don’t have much time and you may not be near a computer.
What do you expect to gain and give?
Using social media or any type of communication has to have a purpose and a goal. The purpose may be simply staying in touch. The goal may be increasing your clients. But it’s not all about receiving. What do you want to give to your current or future clients? Yes, they buy your products or use your services, but what else can you give them that makes you different than anyone else? Will educating them on how better to use your service reduce the number of repeat questions asked? Perhaps providing them information from your own knowledge base or experience will help them get the best use of your offerings. Even if they decide to go elsewhere, you’ve given them a free gift with great value that may lead them back to you and may cause them to tell others about you.
How often do you want to talk?
Whether you decide to go the newsletter route or jump into Facebook / Twitter / Blog, you need to evaluate how often you or anyone who helps you will be spreading the word. Many people first starting out feel the need to communicate every day. This will be nearly impossible for the basic reason that there is only so much ‘new’ or worthwhile that can be talked about. The best start is once a week. Think ahead to what you want to say, take time to compose it, keep it short and focused then put it out in whatever forum you’ve chosen. Once you see how long this takes you or anyone helping you and what type of feedback you’re getting, you can then gauge if you want to communicate more often. Keep in mind, though, that once you set the expectation for your clients to hear from you, you can’t drop off suddenly. Otherwise, you’ll be making the quick dance moves to recover clients and misinformation.
Keeping these points in mind before you get involved in using social media will help you avoid the message jam and makes certain your clients and potential ones know who you are and what you want them to know.