There is a distinct difference between having a presence on social media and having a social media plan. The first one simply involves have a Facebook account or a Twitter account. The media plan comes into to play when you use those platforms to promote yourself or your product. There are companies that do this very well and companies would could use a little work in this area. Because I am a dog person, I am going to focus in on two organizations that I think use social media in a pro-active manner, and one organization that could use a little help.
The first organization I would choose is Tonya Wilhelm’s Raising Your Pets Naturally. She is a small business owner with an emphasis on caring for pets naturally. She advocates for home cooking, natural instead of needles, and holistic care wherever possible – not only does she have a presence – she has a plan. In the interest of fairness, I know Tonya and her dog, Dexter who is the model for all of her branding. So, how does Tonya make it work?
- Consistent and well-thought out branding. Her imagines are consistent across her platform. It is on her Facebook page, her Twitter page, and her Instagram page.
- She keeps in touch. Tonya posts something with Dexter on Instragram every single day. Sometimes, it is a link to a new piece of information on her website or an inspiration quote. Part of her media plan is to continually interact with people on a “gentle” basis to attract new clients.
- She provides links to her social media platform on her website.
- She actively solicits advice from her network – she asks for opinions and uses them so people feel valued.
- She sends out email blasts upon request.
- She has built a solid and valued reputation through her knowledge and her willing to share that knowledge. If she doesn’t know something, she will tell you she doesn’t know.
The second company is run by Dr. Judy Morgan. Dr. Judy is a vet with tendencies towards eastern medicine. Again, she takes full advantage of her Facebook page to try to educate as many people as she can about the protocols she feels are necessary for raising healthy pets. Again, her branding is consistent and she reaches out to people. My favourite thing about her Facebook page is her live video feeds which she records and later posts on her YouTube channel. She does sell product but, like Tonya, gently. She is not a “in your face” marketer but she does let you know what products she has available and the advantage of using those products.
If you follow either one of their Facebooks page, you will see how their audience has increased dramatically over the years. I know this because I have been following both of them for a number of years. Again, there are companies who want to move quickly and overtake the marketplace. This is not the goal of Judy and Tonya. They are more interested in education then profit – not that either of them would protest to increased sales of their cookbooks or vitamins mixes or magazine articles.
I also belong to a group called The Cavalier Brigade. We do not have a strong social media presence. It is a closed group and people have to be nominated for admittance into the group. This is done for two reasons: 1) to ensure that people have the same interests and values. The administrators of the group want to avoid lots of infighting which happens quite frequently on Facebook. Different people have differing opinions – that is a good thing. However, we encourage debate in a positive, respectfully manner – not is a derogatory fashion. 2) We do do fundraising to rescue and foster puppy mill dogs. Millers will raise the auction prices of dogs when they know rescuers are coming. If word spreads, prices rise so we try to keep the auctions on the down-low. It is a two-edged sword – more people, more access to funds, more awareness, more dogs saved. Sometimes, covert operations are necessary to save more dogs at better prices. So, social media is not always a benefit to certain groups.
For social media to work for a company, social media has to have a purpose. Without a clear and defined purpose, it becomes a presence rather than a plan. As the above examples show, sometimes social media is a benefit and sometimes it is a curse. It is up to companies to decide what works for them.
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