A few days ago, I asked for some opinions on social media as it relates to the BBQ industry. My goal was to prove a point that the social media phenomenon is one that people in the BBQ industry should fully embrace. In order to do so, I set out to determine the amount of effort that successful users of social media in terms of BBQ, the things that they are doing right, and the positive consequences of their actions. To those of you who were kind enough to answer the questions I had, thank you very much! Now, on to the meat of the matter (pun totally intended)…
No matter how you look at it, social media marketing goals can be broken down into three distinct categories: enhancing brand recognition, conversion growth, and brand monitoring. Whether intentional or unintentional, those of us talking up BBQ on Facebook and Twitter are working to achieve one or more of these goals. Now there are wrong ways to do this and there are right ways. The one wrong way that immediately comes to mind is having all of your Facebook statuses, Twitter posts, etc., essentially say “buy my stuff”. My goal for today, however, is not to focus on the wrong way of doing things. My goal is to highlight what others are doing right and how you can do the same thing.
The first, and maybe most important, rule of social media marketing is to embrace the “social” aspect of it. Interact with your followers/fans, and put a significant amount of effort into it. This was one thing agreed upon by those who took the survey, with 100% of survey respondents stating that over 25% of their social media interactivity involves interaction with others. This gives customers the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that there is a person behind that brand taking interest in what we have to say.
Embracing social media is also something that does require a bit of time commitment. It is not a “flash-in-the-pan” thing that you can do every once in a while and expect to be successful; there has to be a commitment to utilizing social media outlets. All of the survey respondents stated that they devoted at least 9 hours a week to social media activities, with 86% stating that they devoted more than 17 hours a week. Each of the respondents has accounts on Facebook and Twitter. The majority also have blogs and are active in various forums, message boards, and other online communities.
In addition to the above information, I asked some free response questions to get a better gauge of the respondents’ mindsets. One of the questions I asked was for a summary of how they use social media in 100 words or less. The answers I received all contained two common elements: building relationships and customer service. These two common elements embrace the social aspect of social media marketing and are a significant factor of why the respondents are successful.
How successful are they? I asked that question too, inquiring how social media has made an impact on their business. The response was totally overwhelming in the positive direction. For the respondents who were bloggers, the impact has been growth of the network base and obtaining more connections. For those that sell tangible products and services, the impact has been much more tangible. Multiple respondents cited an increase in brand exposure (from local brand recognition to regional, national, and sometimes international brand recognition), while others noted significant increases in sales.
Obviously the return on investment in social media for those in the BBQ industry can be quite high. However, it takes a significant amount of work and effort to reap those rewards. I asked the respondents for one piece of advice they would offer to anyone embarking on the online social media marketing path. In the advice given, there were certain elements that were repeated over and over again. Those elements are:
- Embrace every platform that you can.
- Be yourself.
- Don’t sell all the time.
- Don’t be overly aggressive or rude.