How To Fail at Social Media in the New Year
Obviously, I jest. No one intentionally sets out to fail, however there are several things that lead us down a path of failure. In the wine industry (which these posts are originally intended), the majority of wineries are small businesses with 1-10 employees. It can be a challenge for these small business owners to jump into the Social Media waters. NOT getting involved could put your business at a significant disadvantage. For tips on where to begin, see my two previous posts:
- Strategy: Are Wineries Missing the Social Media Money?
- Getting Started: My Social Media Resolution (very practical tips)
For those businesses that are jumping in for the New Year - here are five ways to avoid success using Social Media.
1. Begin without any set objective
You know what they call the man who is wandering around the streets with no place to go? Either homeless or lost. Being listless in the Social Media world is easy. Goals are for wimps. Jump in, start tweeting, create a Facebook business page, update your status occasionally. Make sure your posts offer no real value, are vague and self-serving, or are completely random. These actions will solidify your failure.
Success starts with a clear measurable goal. Here is an example. “Winery X will develop greater brand awareness in our community about our tasting room events. We will achieve this by connecting with local wine lovers through Twitter and Facebook. Our goal is to connect with 500 local wine lovers and drive tasting room traffic sales up by 15% by the end of the year.”
When Walmart wanted to get the word out that it had received a huge shipment of the most sought-after toy just in time for the year-end shopping season, the retailer turned to its more than 400,000 Facebook friends first. – From Baltimore Sun
2. Do not create a plan or strategy
Anyone can build a bookshelf with some plans. Where is the challenge in that? Plans are good only if you want your shelves to be straight and the bookshelf to remain standing once all the books are on it. Avoid success in the Social Media world by approaching it without a plan.
Success continues with a plan or strategy. If your goal is to drive tasting room traffic up 15% by the end of the year avoid the strategy tips below:
- Promote your Twitter and Facebook accounts on everything you send or print (email, web site, business cards, mailers, print ads, trade journals, and how about even your WINE LABEL, etc)
- Start following people in the wine industry or friend them up on Facebook (usually in smaller chunks of 50-100)
- Create Twitter / Facebook cards to specifically hand out or attach with each visit or purchase in your tasting room (store)
- Add a blog to your web site and create a weekly post about something related to your business; tasting room, wine making, harvest, events, etc.
- Once you have a following try hosting a tweet-up at your tasting room (invite your followers to come by and taste wine while tweeting about it)
When asked how Twitter has helped their business, Montaluce Winery (@Mvineyards on twitter), says, “We have seen an uptick in winery traffic, especially with a younger audience. We certainly see more contact with people who influence Atlanta food and wine.”
3. Be self-serving and erratic
Constantly posting self-promoting tweets or status updates may generate you some followers or friends, but it won’t create loyalty and action. Perfect way to fail, tweet 20 times a day, “Come by our tasting room and receive 10% off all purchases http:/addlinkhere.” You can also fail by being erratic. Develop a small following or fan base and then disappear. How does it look when fans ask you questions or post on your wall and never receive a response?
Success equals collaboration. The internet is full of relevant information. You don’t have to create everything you share.
- Post links to helpful industry items (how to taste wine, fun reviews you read, interesting blog posts or newspaper articles about wine).
- Promote events that are not your own (community interest, other tasting room hours, etc)
- Mix up your own posts, don’t always tweet the same text or information.
4. Avoid Interacting With the Natives
Those on Twitter and Facebook are connectors by nature. One of the best ways to fail is to avoid conversation with people. Do not comment on people with insightful posts. Never @people (send them a tweet) or write on anyones wall. Talking to people is scarey and intimidating.
Success equals conversation. Set aside some time each day as marketing time to connect with people.
- Ask people open-ended questions? - “What wine did you drink with dinner over the weekend?”
- Comment on other people’s posts. Read the blog, comment on the blog, then re-tweet the blog RT @nectarwine ->great insightful post on wine trends for 2010 http://drinknectar.com
Former Director of Social Media for St. Supery @RickBakas, on his web site http://justbrand.me says, “provide a stream of relevent and useful information…your audience most likely feels overwhelmed with all the information being broadcast on social networks. ”
5. Do not respond to your fans or brand mentions
Your customers are online. If you want to fail, do not get online. An even bigger fail is to be online and never respond to your fans who ask questions. Do not respond to fan page posts. Ignore retweets (RT) and direct messages (DM). Never use Twitter search to see if people are talking about your brand. Doing these things will ensure your social media failure.
The people experiencing success are doing the following things:
- Use TweetDeck or HootSuite to manage Twitter. This will give you an efficient view of all @ reply and DM’s so you don’t miss a mention or message. Never let a @ or DM go unanswered.
- When you see fans or followers in your business, thank them with a tweet or write on their wall.
- Offer periodic specials just to your fans to promote loyalty.
2009 was the year Twitter and Facebook came of age for business use. Now is the time that businesses who use Social Media will begin to see an advantage. Customers are online. They become your fans. You create loyalty. Your customers become your ambassadors. Social Media gives you an army of marketers who will promote you to success. Are you ready to succeed or fail in the New Year?