A few days ago, my friend Mark Roberts wrote a great blog post about smores (Social Media Whores). From his comments to me this morning it's obvious that he stirred up something. It's a topic I feel strongly about so I want to elaborate:
You may know how to use a hammer, level, and saw but that does not mean you know how to design and build a house.
The Telephone is not a Marketing Strategy. It's a Tool.
When I started this business - way back before the term 'social media' became popular - a business owner could start a blog almost anywhere, write anything anytime to anyone and he would likely get noticed. Maybe even end up on the front page of the NY Times. Businesses that blogged were that rare.
It's different today. Technorati's 2008 State of the Blogosphere says that one million new blog posts are being created every day. "If you write it they will come" doesn't work any more.
As another friend and colleague Dave Cooke says, you must start with a strategy. Who are your clients? What does your perfect client look like? What are the problems you solve for them? What are their reasons for not buying from you now?
For example, in my Twitter webinars we talk about using Twitter as a branding tool, but if you don't know what you want to be known for then you've got the cart before the horse.
There are a lot of consultants and 'experts' who only want to talk about the tools. Why? Because tools are cool. Particularly bright shiny new tools. Several months ago I mentioned to one of these smores that I was planning to offer webinars. He immediately replied that I should use XXXXXX for that. Why did he recommend XXXXXX? Because it was new and it was what he was currently fixated on. A quick review of XXXXX revealed that it did not fit the needs of my business. It wasn't even close.
Don't focus on the tools. Focus on the business.
Mark Roberts has some great recommendations for steering clear of smores. I'll add my own:
Look for someone who starts with, "Tell me about your business". Questions like "What's your target market?", "Who's your perfect client?" and "What problems do you solve for your clients" tend to indicate that you are taking so someone who understands business and marketing, not just the tools.
When you engage us to create a blog for you, we spend over half of the entire engagement focused on issues like these. We help our clients answer these questions. The results is not just a better social media strategy, but a better business strategy as well.