The first point to be made is somewhat akin to the Zen saying, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha." Obviously, this is not to be taken literally. The point is that if you think you've found the Buddha, you haven't. It's merely your own delusion and attachments at work. Similarly, if someone tells you -- especially some "expert" -- that they thoroughly understand social media and can tell you how best to achieve this or that, guaranteed…they don't. Social media is constantly changing. No one has the answer.
Here is where we have the delusion that leads to the confusion.
So what advice might seem to make sense, especially given the myriad of social networks a business has to choose from? First, know your own business and its goals. What are they? Know your customers. Who are they? What social media are they likely to use as part of their personal and business lives? (Remember: business customers aren't typically business 24-7; they are individuals who also have personal interests that they pursue. Think software and accounting firms advertising on televised golf tournaments, for example.) What's your budget? Can you afford to generate traffic through ads on social networks? Or do you prefer to build customer traffic and engagement organically? If the latter, that especially means generating engaging content. Who will create and curate that for your business? What kind of integrated marketing strategy and approach do you have to tie all your marketing communications efforts together with your social media activities?
In short, you still have to do your marketing homework. Where you communicate with your customers, and how you do so, may have changed places, so to speak, but the questions you ask to develop your strategy and plan, and the process you follow, still are essentially the same.
The approach of some businesses today to social media is the same as it was when "old media" (print, broadcast, etc.) ruled. What was that approach? "Let's do an ad," they'd say. When asked why, many wouldn't be able to give a reasoned answer. Often, it was because their competitors were doing so and kicking their tails as a result. That's a good motivator. But it's not a good reason and it's even less a strategy for success. Today, some company executives say "Let's do social media." C'mon. There's more to it than that. Companies can -- and do -- waste a great deal of time and resources not thinking through why they need to be on social media, what they are going to say, and who's going to stay on top of it.
Engaging with the customer is the key. And that requires a good deal of clarity at every step of the communications process. Confusion and delusion aren't going to cut it. Think, people….think!