2011 should be the year of change

December has been really busy month, tutoring, a mountain and a half of marking, finishing consultancy research and reports, trying to finish a survey for my own PhD research, locking down my methodology (I won’t bore you with specifics), reviewing more literature, social media networking events (#themeet140), running a social media workshop for the lovely guys at Skipinnish (a West Coast Ceilidh band, amongst other things), in between all the Christmas parties, drinks and events, and moving home. I’ve just exhausted myself!

Upon hearing Karen’s theme for the January issue, fresh starts, I realised that I was running about doing all these things before January for my fresh start. It’s a brilliant theme for January and I’m really looking forward to reading everyone else’s contributions.

A fresh start was important to me because I have set myself a deadline of the 18th of July 2011 to have a completed full first draft of my PhD. I’m telling you all this as its going to be tight and I may need a little encouragement at times (all motivating thoughts to @jillney on Twitter). So it’s with a clear head, and in tray, that I’m starting 2011.

It seems however that it is a different story for social media. I have seen countless posts, blogs and conversations about what the trends of 2011 will be. It would appear that everyone is caught up in the social media hype and searching for new and exciting avenues to pursue. Now, I’m not really complaining, hype away, I need a job the back end of next year, but I was a little horrified (yes, I am a drama queen) about what would seem to be the cavalier approach to social media adoption.

Let me explain. It’s almost like saying what is going to be the new ‘It’ gadget in 2011? We need to jump on that bandwagon as soon as we can! I say, STOP!

Think about it for a second … Right, ok. Why would you want to move into the new ‘it’ media platforms if the ones you are currently using are not doing so well? Stop thinking about the new trends and start thinking strategically about the ones you are using just now. Going back to this issues theme, fresh starts, it is time for you social media fresh start. Is there a better time to do it?! So, 2011 is not about what is new, it is about reviewing current social media strategies and seeing how well you are doing and what you can do better. Before you can adopt all these new trends you need to have a great, effective, basic social media strategy. After this you can think about the new trends, as in new tactics, to reach social media objectives.

Resolution number one should be to develop a ‘living’ social media policy. What are your social media objectives? If you simply tell me that it is to make more revenue, I am going to hit you over the head with the biggest book I can find! Have you not read my previous articles? Skipinnish came to me with great objectives. For a brand who says they do not know much about social media, they came with a brilliant attitude and set of expectations. They had already known the benefit in building relationships and nurturing these.

A brilliant example was a wedding expo they had previously done. Skipinnish knew that happy couples come to these types of events to gather information before making their final purchase decisions. A huge decision considering this is going to be their perfect day. From the workshop they knew that consumers go online to find information, not dissimilar to the wedding expo. The trick is to take details of the happy couple and get back in contact because they know this type of purchase has a lot of thought in it.

It really is the same with social media. You may not make a sale straight away but by keeping in contact with your fan base and growing this base you will make sales. You have probably done this in the offline world, and when the internet was just a fledgling marketplace. Social media is no different you just need more thought and less direct selling. Remember, humanise the brand!

You have the ability on social media to set your brand as the expert, to engage, humour and chat to your audience, and to grow new relationships. These relationships to do necessarily need to come from consumers only, are there any business to business opportunities? New countries you want to target, new distribution channels, new suppliers, intermediaries? The possibilities are endless.

Use social media to exploit these opportunities and don’t get too caught up in just your own branded social space. What is happening in wider social media channels? Who is talking about your brand out with your spaces? What are they saying? Build these relationships too and don’t be afraid of replying to negative comments. Think like they do in services, if expectations are not met, find a solution and overcome them. So please, let one of your fresh starts or resolutions to be to strategise your social media policy. Stop thinking about revenue, that comes later, think about the relationships. Do not get too caught up in the social media hype. Fix what you have now don’t make a mess on a new media channel because others are. After the objectives are set and you’re current tactics are of good quality, think about new tactics to reach those objectives. These tactics may be the new social trends of 2011.

Fresh starts are not for jumping on the bandwagon. They are for thinking about where you want to be and re-evaluating where you are and what you can do to get there. Social media fresh starts are the same.

2011 should be the year of change, it will be the year I complete my doctoral studies and become Dr Ney. Graduate with me and grow your brand socially, the right way, authentic and transparent. Remember relationships build revenue!

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