In this article we will look at Social Media Marketing; what it is, how it works and what it might be able to do for you and your wet leisure business.
What is Social Media?
Before we start to look at using Social Media for business we need to understand what Social Media itself is. Well that doesn’t sound too challenging does it?
Social Media is Facebook or Twitter, surely? In fact Wikipedia says, “Social Media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.”
But that is like saying that a pool is a large container full of water and a sauna is a room that gets very hot. It’s probably better to see Social Media as a process, like swimming in a pool or sweating in a sauna.
The ‘Internet based tools’ such as Linkedin and Google + are just that, they are tools and it’s how they are used that makes them social.
Fortunately we already know how to be social; we form groups of friends and colleagues that we share stuff with. We share opinions and knowledge and advice, we take an interest in others and we have conversations, we give people advice and we make recommendations and it’s at that stage that we approach Social Media Marketing.
It’s what you know and it’s who you know.
People used to say that ‘word of mouth’ was the best form of advertising that you could have – and Social Media can provide that.
Testimonial advertising was seen as one of the most powerful and persuasive forms of marketing that there was – and Social Media can provide that.
A good salesman knows his customer’s birthday, what they like and where they went on holiday and with that knowledge he or she builds a strong relationship with them that is broader than just the business they share. Yes, social media can provide that.
Before we leave these old, traditional analogies behind there are two things we should take with us into the world of Social Media Marketing. Who are the target audience and where will we find them?
If you have a good idea of who your market is then you’ll be better at knowing what content will interest them. If you know who they are then you’ll be better placed at figuring out which platform or tool will be the best way to reach them.
A Facebook page works well for more informal connections; things which are sociable and have an element of fun. Linkedin is better for building a business network among your peers, partners and clients. Twitter has an immediacy about it, it’s good for telling people about things that are changing quickly and a blog will let you share opinions and knowledge – and just as importantly allow search engines to connect you to potential customers who are looking for that information.
So what you are aiming to do, in the beginning, is to build a network of people you know and share worthwhile and valuable content with them.
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
People use the Internet to find information.
You want to use the Internet to sell wet leisure products and services.
It looks as if you need to meet in the middle.
Before a person actually buys a pool, sauna or hot-tub they will probably do a bit of research on the things that concern them about that decision; how much will the running costs be, where can it be situated, what different types of pool or sauna are there?
If you have answered their questions in a blog, post or even a video on YouTube, they will have a good chance of finding that content. Your information, your ‘user generated content’ will have given them the answers they were looking for and so they will be introduced to you in the best way possible; as a helpful, knowledgeable friend.
The next stage is to consolidate that relationship. Give them both the opportunity and the reason to ‘like’ your Facebook page, follow your Twitter stream or re-visit or even subscribe to your blog.
The opportunity might just be a simple click of a button; the reason has to be more information that has value for them or relevant offers or promotions. And so you can see why it’s important to be able to visualise your potential customers and put yourself in their shoes.
When they have become closer to you by being a part of your network, a member of your on-line community, then they have a chance of hearing others praise you.
It’s one thing to say your business offers a good service, it’s much more powerful when someone else says it about you. Putting up useful content about pools or saunas is good, when someone passes that on to their friends or shares it with their own network; that’s even better.
So, the potential new customer found you, they now ‘like’ you and can see that other people are trusting you and recommending you. Surely that is a good place for you to be to make that sale?
Like all relationships, it takes hard work.
Social Media marketing can sometimes be seen as free, easy and instantly successful.
It’s true that the cost to entry is very low but like everything in life, you will only get out what you put in and like many things, it takes time to see the rewards.
Too often the words ‘Social Media’ overshadow the word ‘marketing’. The rules of good marketing apply here and perhaps because it’s so visible, so transparent, even more so.
- Define your target market. You can’t be all things to all men.
- See your business from their (your customers) point of view and offer them the things that they see as important.
- Be consistent in the values that your business stands for.
- If you want them to be your friend, then talk to them, answer their questions, respond to their comments.
There are a host of Social Media marketing success stories and as many if not more come from small and medium sized businesses than the big boys.
Social Media acts as a web that connects you with your customers and has the potential to give many more points of contact between the two than other methods but it becomes even more powerful when its integrated with the rest of your marketing.