Many businesses and individuals seeking work are using social media to display their wares. It serves as a good resume and a chronological log of your on the job training. At some point in the future visitors will be able to see how you have grown in your field.

“Build it and they will come…” – NOT

When Ray Kinsella hears those words in Field Of Dreams you realize you are in a fairytale. It fascinates me how many people believe that’s all they have to do with their Internet tools. Once you’ve created your social media assets, you’ve got to let your target markets know about them. And you’ve got to give them a reason to come. Going viral would be nice, but let’s bring things down to reality.

Build it so they will come back

Your primary mission in creating your social media tools it to create content that will make the people who view it want to come back and view it again. To do this you’ve got to offer something of value. Often that item is free advice. One way to do this is to show your visitors how they can use your expertise and save some money by NOT hiring you. This is the kind of service friends tell friends about.

Sound crazy? It’s not. Yes, your free advice will go to benefit that free loader, but is that the customer you really wanted? No! He’s the one that knows more about your field than you do (well, he thinks he does). One thing that free loader will likely do is tell others about your free wares. And occasionally one of those “others” will be the customer you want. And that is the customer who takes a look at the work to be done and then realizes that you would do the job quicker and better than he would.

Get them to come the first time

Now that you have your blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools up and operating, you’ve got to get people to pay their first visits. How are you going to do that? Take a careful look at the promotion resources you already have in place. How can you “link” your social media to those items. Is your blog address on your calling card? Is it mentioned on all of your audio ads? It it posted in all of your print ads? Do you offer a Facebook invitation from your website? Are your blogs listed in you email signatures? And so on…

After you have incorporated your existing promotional tools, find other sources that will get people to make that first visit. Paid per click ads on Facebook, Google and other media are cheap and can focus on narrow target parameters. Get vendors, customers and other industry associates to link their media to yours where it is appropriate.

Friends, links and followers become leads

Once you’ve built a following, you’ve built a list of leads. You know a little about them and they know even more about you. Now go ask what you can do for them.

Just like a business plan or a marketing plan, businesses that use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social media resources need to develop a social media plan. That plan should include what resources you will use, what value you will create with them, and how you will grow your following.

Determine What Resources Are Of Value

Different resources attract different participants. While Facebook will be interacting with an individual often sitting at a PC, individuals using Foresquare are normally on the road with a mobile device. Some users will use only one means, but many will use both. And while a business needs to tweak for each resource, it needs to keep it’s general message consistent.

Create Service And Value

Too many businesses want to just post something on their social media resources and then leave it alone. That’s the wrong approach. Businesses need act. They need to do something that will benefit the persons they are corresponding with. Anything from a tutorial on how to use a product to a request for the completion of a survey can get social media participants to act. And when they act, you know you have created value for them.

Interaction With Customers Requires Authority

In many cases when you hire someone to interact with a customer you need to grant them authority. This is especially the case in social media. Social media often entails one to one contact between your representative and your customer. That representative needs to have some authority to make decisions that will be representative of the company. This increases the value of your social media site to your customer.

Grow Your Following

In most cases businesses are out to increase their customers. Social media can enhance this effort by growing a business’s connections. To do this a firm must make use of it’s current connections to gain new ones. One way to do this is to create content that goes viral. Do or create something that your current following will tell others about.

Change Your Plan

Just like your business plan, your social media plan should always be changing. Competition, market conditions, and many other factors that are regularly changing influence the company mission. And when that mission changes, so do the plans.

Foursquare is a social media tool that seems to be gaining popularity. Starbucks Coffee is a company that is embracing social media like no one else. So Starbucks recently used Foursquare in a promotional event.

What’s A Foursquare Mayor?

In case you are not familiar with Foursquare, let me tell you about how a portion of it works. Once you’ve joined Foursquare, and you have it on your smart phone, you are able to tell Foursquare where you are. For instance, if you go to a Starbucks Coffee in Charlotte, NC, you are able to pull out your mobile device and tell Foursquare you are there. If you want to, you “check in” at that location on Foursquare and you can make a comment for your Foursquare friends to see. Every time you go, you check in with Foursquare and Foursquare keeps up with how many times you’ve been there. The person that visits a business or place the most ofter becomes the “Mayor” of that location.

Rewarding The Mayor

In the middle of May, 2010, Starbucks offed a $1 discount on Frappuccino to the Mayors of each store. It sent this message to those Mayors: “As mayor of this store, enjoy $1 off a NEW however-you-want-it Frappuccino blended beverage. Any size, any flavor. Offer valid until 6/28.”

Campaign Glitch

Once they got into the campaign they ran into a little problem. Some of the people who had become Mayor’s of the store locations were store employees. Of course, they were there more often than customers. And if they participated in Foursquare, then they would, naturally, be the store Mayors.

Starbucks had to send this letter to several people who complained:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us.I am truly sorry to hear about your frustration with foursquare Promotions.

I want you to know that we take feedback from our loyal customers seriously. Because you know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks, I will share this with the ————- store Management.

However Foursquare is open to any one that can access it and it happens that the Mayor of this location is the Barista again I do apologize for any type of inconvenience that this may have caused. ….

Thanks again,

Orlando C. Customer Relations Starbucks Coffee Company

Great Idea, Just Needs Tweeking.

I think this is a great idea on Starbucks part. They have been a leading retailer in the use of social media. I have a lot of admiration for leaders and risk takers. Now Foursquare and Starbucks have both learned something. And, I’m willing to bet they come up with a way to solve this problem so they can do the campaign again.

Keep you eye on Foursquare. And reply to this blog when you find interesting ways businesses are using this tool.