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Chasing the social media dream

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.

In the eyes of marketers, brands and companies social media has always been similar to the American dream – everyone can come and everyone will be able to reap its benefits. The part that sometimes tends to be forgotten by the potential beneficiaries of social media is the most important one – hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen first hand that social media can be very good for business and it actually can help to reach success in easier ways than ever before, but that requires either the hard work or very precise approach. The reason why it’s sometimes so hard is that there are no two identical situations or golden formulas – everyone has to put in at least some work to find out what’s best for the business.

Social media is an investment

Every road leads somewhere, the trick is to find out the right direction. There are a lot of success stories out there that encourage more and more businesses to invest more and more in social media. There are also a lot of success stories out there on stock markets and people who have made their fortunes by buying and selling stocks, but that doesn’t make anyone (or at least me) to go out and start buying stocks – people who have made money this way have spent a lot of hours learning the trade, studying the market and thinking a lot before placing a bet on a stock. And even then they don’t always come out as winners – every one of them have lost their fair share of money on one or another deal.

Takeaway – Michael Jordan might have reached his goals through playing basketball, but that way might not be suitable for everyone. Copying others on social media without knowledge about their goals, strategy and results is a waste of time. Sometimes the guy next door isn’t as happy/lucky/wealthy as he seems to be.

Not everyone wins in social media, most actually lose

Still, there are companies big and small who believe that by just setting up a Facebook page or twitter account and starting to “do social media” they will get to the promised land. Sometimes they truly get to the promised land and we have heard about these cases on news sites, advertising portals and from our friends or acquaintances. The thing that tend to get forgotten when talking about the few lucky ones is how many failed attempts there are per each successful one. I don’t know the number, but I’m sure that it isn’t pretty and doesn’t draw social media in pretty colours. Failing is good and teaches stuff, but it doesn’t mean that anyone should try to fix his own teeth.

Homework nr. 1 for success on social media – setting up a business goal

Social media doesn’t drive business – revenue does. That’s why doing social media without a clear and measurable business objective is as effective as walking in an unknown direction. Yes, the walk might be fun and even insightful, but there is a small chance it will get you closer to your goal and by the time you’ll understand which direction is yours you might’ve been halfway to it.

That is why before talking to anyone about social media you should understand why you actually want to do it – which side of the business could benefit from use of social media. The ways in which social media can help are endless: new customer acquisition, customer retention, customer support, customer relationships, public relations, employee relationships, corporate social responsibility, media relationships et cetera.

When there is a clear objective and purpose for social media, you’ll be able to find the tool that’ll help you to reach it. Looking for tool before finding the purpose is like looking for a needle in a haystack.