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Social media management

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Social media management

In my previous article, I explained the importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices. In 2012, for the first time ever, more searches will be performed on mobile devices than on PCs. It’s all part of the social media revolution.

In this article, I want to explore the world of social media management. That’s right, not just social media, but how to manage it. In order to properly deal with social media, you need to look at it from your customer’s perspective. To set the stage, I quote Seth Godin, renowned author, marketing and social media expert.

In a recent blog by Godin, he talks about the importance of people (or customers) wanting to fit in. This is relevant and crucial to understanding the importance of embracing social media in your business. Godin exclaimed, “A significant part of marketing to strangers is the work of appearing to be the dominant choice, the safe choice, the one that’s going to get picked by everyone else... That’s why being the ‘presumed front-runner’ is so vitally important.”

You want to become the dominant choice, the safe choice.

You want your business to become the dominant choice, the one that is going to get picked by everyone else. It doesn’t happen by accident; you need to make it happen. The good news is you can. You can manage your perception in the social marketplace. In fact, it’s not as difficult as you might think. The social media arena is yours for the taking. To be the dominant choice, you only have to be better than your competition. No one said how much better, just better. Let’s break down the social media mountain into manageable pieces.

Social branding

First let’s explore the area of social branding. This refers to all the social websites out there that you can appear on, whether you want to or not. They include sites such as:

• Google Places

• Bing Places

• Yahoo Local

• YP.com

• Yelp

• Foursquare

• Angie’s List

• Insider Pages

• MapQuest

• DexKnows

• Merchant Circle

• CitySearch

• And others

These websites provide information to prospective customers about your company. They may include your company address, phone number, hours of operation, and the like. In addition, they may contain reviews that have been posted by your existing customers. These sites usually allow you to post business information including pictures.

It’s not uncommon to find incorrect information about your company unless you manage it. Most of these websites also are available for you to update at no charge. Some of these websites, like Foursquare, provide “social amusement” for its participants while providing a service at the same time. New websites are being created all the time and it’s a continuous process for you to keep up with them all.

There is one thing for certain; your customers are posting real-life experiences about doing business with you all the time. You may not personally visit these websites or even believe in them, but you need to realize that your customers do. Don’t underestimate what Godin said about picking the perceived leader. Your customers can make you the perceived leader or they can do significant damage to your reputation and your brand.

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Take control

Not only do you need to manage your presence on these websites, you need to manage what your customers are saying about you. There are several things that you can do to “help” your customers fill out reviews on these websites. Naturally, you want them to post positive experiences. These positive reviews will make you the safe choice, the dominant choice. Don’t leave it to chance.

So the message here is to make sure you are managing your business on these websites. It’s perfectly OK to outsource the management of your social brand management. In fact, I highly recommend it. This stuff is constantly changing. Leave the management to those that are in the business of keeping up with these rapidly changing websites. It’s much more cost-effective and you will get better results than trying to do this on your own. Don’t kid yourself, I have talked to hundreds of tire dealers who start this process, do a reasonably effective job for a very short time, and then lose interest or time to manage it properly.

Social brand management is like sweeping the floor. It’s something you have to do each and every day. No matter how many times you sweep it, the dirt comes back. We need to think of social brand management in the same light. It’s something you have to tend to every day.

Social networking allows you to be present in the places your customers are spending time.

Rich source of customers

In addition to social branding, another area called social networking includes websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You may consider these as nothing more than a distraction or a waste of time.

However, these websites are another source rich in prospective customers. Consider the fact that Facebook has over 800 million active users. If it were a country, it would be the third largest.

In March, Roger McManus wrote an article in MTD about becoming a “twittering dealer.” He hit the nail square on the head with respect to the opportunities that exist within the tweets and Facebook posts. The thing about Twitter is that it’s an open community. You can view anyone’s comments and replying to them is an accepted practice. Facebook has a little more privacy, but creating and maintaining a company Facebook page gives your users a common place to communicate with respect to your business and their experiences. Once again, these websites require constant attention. You know... sweeping the floor.

There are methods to get your customers to participate in these websites and promote your business. Here again, I recommend bringing in the experts to help you. They can get you the results that you want and they can do it cost-effectively.

Another leading-edge social networking tool is the use of text messaging to create a social or loyalty club for your customers. Companies such as MobiDitto.com provide these powerful networking tools. Tire dealers around the country are embracing these practices in their business and are getting very positive results.

The world of social media, imaging, branding, and networking is here to stay. You can become the dominant choice in your space. It’s a function of how serious you consider this opportunity and how you go about becoming the “presumed front runner.”    ■

Wayne Croswell is CEO and president of WECnology LLC (www.wecnology.com) and is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. He can be reached at (603) 249-5530 or
wcroswell@wecnology.com.

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