The term ‘guru’ is a pretty strong description of someone’s abilities. It really implies they are an expert in their field and when you consult a guru, they always have all the answers – right?

In the realm of social media we believe there is no such thing as a ‘guru’ – across each of the platforms there are almost daily changes and new techniques to learn. While we follow it closely and keep up with the latest updates, we don’t claim to be ‘social media gurus’. We actually more pertinently refer to ourselves as ‘social media students’.

We are learning in this space all the time, and being still such a relatively new medium, particularly in marketing terms, and the fact it changes weekly, there is no way we can claim to be gurus in the space.  We like to think we have broad experience in management, marketing, services, SEO and web development, all of which can (and should) be applied to these new channels for building businesses. We also make it our business to ensure we are on top of the changes and developments and to evaluate where the people are and what is and can work the best for businesses.  It’s with interest and intrigue that we see other website and marketing businesses (maybe yours does?) frequently quoting themselves as experts in social media.  Are they really?  Bill Faeth, President at Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville, recently published via Business2Community anarticle highlighting reasons why a social media guru may not in fact be one at all.   I have borrowed his ‘reasons’ and am referring to them as the key factors social media managers should be focusing on (maybe you could use this as social media manager checklist!)…

1. Providing Value – having a Facebook page is not enough.  Content can be buried quickly, especially on the biggest social media network (Facebook) on the Planet, so you need to post often, on different networks relevant to your audience (think Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Google+) and post content that is going to be valuable for your client.  Not sure what is valuable?  Try different stuff out all the time – see what is getting the best engagement.  Sometime the most unlikely content may surprise you the most!

2. Incentive – why should people follow your page and what do they get out it?  Same old content, same old images and overdoing the quotes and personal pics won’t keep your followers on your page, and won’t convert sales, particularly as more businesses get on the social media wagon and fight for space in your newsfeeds.   Differentiate your brand from competitors by standing out on social media. Mix it up – post info about your business, products, services, humorous content, great links or run great competitions – whatever it is, make it the best of your followers time.  How will you know?  Are they engaging with your content?  Are they ‘liking’, commenting or sharing your posts?

3. Skills – we could not agree more with Bill when he quotes “Any teenager could have done what they did. For no money. And much faster.” Bill goes onto say “I’m way over the internet’s ongoing argument about how old your social media manager should be. I honestly don’t care if they’re 103 or 18, as long as they’ve got the skills to manage your campaign.”   Social media managers or experts should seamlessly transition from product manager to customer service representative to data analyst to marketing manager in a matter of minutes.   They should understand your business, your brand and its values and ensure they understand how to talk to your followers and ultimately your customers.  They should also be able to adapt – and quickly.   The 18 year old receptionist may know how to work Facebook but I doubt they have the maturity or the experience to work social media in its truest form, and if you honestly think that social media is nothing more than just having a Facebook page, being there for the ‘young kids’ or ‘maintaining pretty pin boards’, then you need to reassess your thinking – now.

4. Effort – Bill cites Gary Vaynerchuk as probably the worlds most worthy claimant of social media guru. He has over 958,000 Twitter followers (as at 23 November 2012), and he built his wine company predominantly by what Bill refers to as ‘effort’.   Gary spent an enormous amount of time a day putting in the ‘effort’ to engage Twitter users who were talking about wine. Gary’s take on social media is that “99.5 percent of social media experts are clowns.” Because they’re not willing to provide effort.  It is worth checking Gary out…he is inspiring!

5. Your Followers – ‘vanity metrics’ mean zilch.   Businesses are obsessive about the number of followers they have – this is what is referred to as a ‘vanity’ measure, but they are not a reliable measure of reach.  We firmly believe in ‘quality’ of numbers following you on social media and how well they engage with you.  We know that engaging with followers (and potential prospects) drive more brand awareness, interest in product and ultimately sales, that a few hundred or thousand ‘fake’ ‘likes’ will not guarantee you.  Lesson?  Don’t purchase followers, no matter how appealing it might look and focus on the few quality followers you have.  Get your strategy right, get good engagement, and followers will come.

6. No ‘silver bullet’ – this is what we at GOOP refer to when answering doubtful clients about social media’s ability to influence brand and purchase decision.  At the end of the day, social media is just another channel to get in front of buying customers.  As a result, we all need to be prepared to , talk with them, build relationships with them, help them, serve them, deal with them when they are not happy, confront issues, negative feedback and conversations, have an ability to deal with crisis management and have protocol in place to manage sticky situations.  Better to be on social media and dealing with disgruntled customers and feedback than avoiding it all together, where customers will be talking about you anyway.  That is of course if they have bad things to say about you (by the way, why would they anyway?)  This all takes a LOT of time and yes, effort.

7. ROI – Social Media managers should have a feel for the numbers.  One of the best things about this medium is that the numbers are right there at your fingertips.    Google analytics, traffic and follower sources (organic/referred?), audience/demographics and social reach are just some of many metrics and numbers available to see how your social media is working for you.  Know your numbers and let them tell you the story about your social media efforts.

Do you need help with your social media? Contact GOOP, we can help.  We may not be gurus, but we are working on it, all the time.

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