I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with social media presentations that focus on the big, impressive numbers. They’re virtually meaningless to the majority of marketers. Stop trying to sell your boss on social media by telling her that Facebook has almost 500 million users, and start focusing on real reasons why these tools might benefit your business.

Here’s the problem: there’s only so much value in these kinds of numbers for most brands (especially businesses with a physical location).

If I’m an app developer vying for venture capital, then my potential investors might be interested to know that there is a potential market of almost half a billion people using Facebook. But if I’m the typical local business, I care a lot more about the few hundred or thousand people in my community who either are or can become customers than I do about the millions of people who will never buy from me.

Let’s look at another example. If you own an oil change franchise in Minneapolis, do you care about how many drivers there are in the U.S.? No. You care about how much potential traffic you’re going to get at your location. Obviously, the latter number is only a tiny fraction of the former, but if you’ve done your homework and execute properly, it’s still plenty big enough to build a profitable business.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to understand the overall shift in behavior, and I’m equally astonished by the increasing pace of change. That said, there are much smaller things that we should be focusing on when it comes to using these tools for business.

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to speak with members of the Columbus Apartment Association about social media. Rather than focusing on eye-popping numbers related to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, we decided to focus the discussion on the questions that businesses should be asking before they dive into social media.

Here are the slides from that discussion with the CAA. There’s certainly nothing revolutionary here, but I still think it’s important to consider these questions:

Questions to consider:

  • What is our goal?
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What action(s) do we want them to take?
  • Where is our audience now?
  • Are people talking about us? If yes, what are they saying? If no, why not?
  • What happens if someone says something bad about us?
  • How do we integrate social media with current offline/online communications?
  • Who will manage our social media efforts? Who does the talking?
  • How will we stay current on the latest tools, trends and best practices?
  • How do we define success?

Further exploration of each of these questions could be a post in itself. (Foreshadowing…?) The important thing is not to worry about big numbers that don’t really relate to your success. Instead, find the opportunities in the market that are most relevant to you and will have the greatest impact on your business. That’s how you’ll find success with social media.

How are you addressing these questions in your organization? What questions would you add to the list?

And if you’re still looking for big, impressive numbers, knock yourself out with the latest installment of the Social Media Revolution from Eric Qualman:

View Social Media Revolution 2 on YouTube.

Hey, it’s still a cool video.

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