I had a meeting with a client the other day and as we sat down to go over what his goals were for getting a social media strategy in place, his response was typical: “I want to get more clients and I want more exposure.” When I asked him what steps he had taken so far, he replied that he had a website. Having done my due diligence, I had already taken a look at his website. While it was aesthetically pleasing, it was clear that he had not paid attention to keywords, meta-tags, calls to action or SEO. Before I gave him my thoughts, however, I asked him if he was happy with his website. He told me that while he didn’t really know much about social media and what to do, he was very happy with his website. He’d had it professionally designed and he said that people had complimented him on the design. He was very proud, he told me, that when you typed his business name into a search, his site came up first. When I asked him what he typed into the search box, he told me that he typed his exact business name. Okay. Here we go…
Despite all the hype out there about social media, it still seems that most small businesses don’t really understand about search, SEO and the Web 2.0 mentality. Most people still believe that if you build a website, people will come and when they don’t, the business owner will jump on their bandwagon to denounce social media and how it doesn’t work. Now I love what I do. I love being able to explain to someone what social media is and what it can help you accomplish as part of your entire marketing strategy. So I smiled, took a deep breath and dove right in.
I explained to my client that while it used to be that you could design a website and then sit and wait for your potential customers to come to you (the all-knowing businessman who will lead them in the right direction), it doesn’t work that way anymore. I tried to explain that at it’s most basic level, the Internet was created to disseminate information to the masses but was initially very static and inactive. It was traditional marketing 101, with the seller doing the talking and the potential customer doing the listening. That was Web1.0. Today, in the age of Web 2.0, social media incorporates many different technologies to allow people to connect, share, critique, offer opinions, insights and reviews, not only with the businesses themselves, but with other people who will hopefully become advocates of your business. It’s no longer enough to create a website and wait. You need to blog, network, share, create content and video and build a large and well-respected social network community. So how can you go about implementing a Web 2.0 marketing strategy? Follow these simple steps:
- Create a plan: As with any endeavor, you need to know where you’re going. You need to determine who your audience is, what your objectives are and come up with a strategy to put it all into place.
- Join the conversation: Advertising is no longer a one-way street. With Web 2.0, if you join the conversation, you will encourage others to do so as well. There are many ways to join in: blogging, tagging, bookmarking, commenting, sharing. And as with any good conversation, you must listen when others speak.
- Provide quality content: If you share good quality content — video, pictures, tutorials, you will be rewarded. Remember that Web 2.0 is not about the sales pitch. You need to be remarkable, be interesting and have something to offer your audience that they can then share with others.
After I explained marketing in the age of Web 2.0, I really think my client understood what I was trying to say. We were then able to discuss the different social networks out there that could benefit his business and how getting involved in the conversation should not be feared but embraced. We ended the meeting on a great note, with a step-by-step social media plan in place to bring his business online and create more engagement and with his clients and hopefully more online visibility. He left the meeting happy – that is until next time when I try to explain marketing in the age of Web 3.0.