Krista Neher: Ask yourself the right questions

Krista Neher, CEO, Boot Camp Digital

You’ve probably heard the expression that when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. That is where we are in social media.

Most social networks have given us hammers or tools to use to grow our business with social media. Facebook has given us pages to use to promote our brand, Twitter has given us accounts and hashtags to theme conversations, and LinkedIn has given us company profiles.

As social networks give us the tools, we jump in and bang away. We use the tools they have given us and try to pound out results. The problem with this approach is that you don’t only have a hammer and everything isn’t a nail.

You don’t only have a Facebook page, and getting interactions on your page isn’t the only way to use Facebook to grow your business.

We are at a point in social media where we’ve been programed to use the tools that the social networks have given us, and we’ve missed the point of what we were doing to begin with.

Every year, I train companies on how to use social media to grow their business, and the most common questions I get are, “How do I get more Twitter followers?” and “How can I drive more interactions on my Facebook page?”

These are the wrong questions.

The questions should be, “How can I use Twitter or Facebook to achieve my objectives?” It may be to drive more sales, get more leads, generate awareness or build brand equity. The problem is that we are asking the wrong questions about our social media marketing and we’ve forgotten why we were there to begin with.

For example, I was working with an organization that runs an event in my neighborhood.  They asked me how to get more followers on Twitter. Their problem isn’t getting more followers — it is getting more people to attend the event. The best way to get more people to the event using Twitter isn’t to painstakingly attempt to get more followers. It is to get other people, who already have an audience to talk about the event and encourage their friends and followers to attend.

The point is that it isn’t about getting followers or fans; it is about using the medium to grow your business. Not everyone wants to like you or follow you on social networks. Not even your biggest fans.

Let’s face it, now that everyone is on social media, consumers don’t have an interest in liking or following every single business that they interact with.

For example, I love the Swiffer SweeperVac (and not just because I used to work at P&G). I love recommending it to people because I think it is amazing. I don’t “like” Swiffer on Facebook, and I don’t want to see cleaning tips and random cleaning status updates. Despite not wanting to “like” the Swiffer on Facebook, I talk about it periodically and recommend it to my friends and family.

The reality is that my recommendations and conversations on Facebook with my friends probably lead to more awareness and sales for Swiffer than a passive “like” of its page. Driving word-of-mouth and encouraging conversations can be a better way to achieve Swiffer’s objectives than asking people to “like” its page.

I’m not saying that pages, followers, likes and interactions aren’t important — the point is that these tools are not the only way to grow your business on social networks.

Stop missing the point of social media marketing. Stop asking how to get fans and followers, and start with a blank slate. Once you have knowledge of the social media tools and you have defined your marketing objectives, ask yourself how each social network can be used to achieve your goals.

Don’t worry about the tools that social networks give you. Think first about how each social network could actually drive your business. In most cases, the answer is more about inspiring conversations, activating enthusiasts and driving word-of-mouth than it is about getting people to like your status updates.

Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital, author of the bestselling “Social Media Field Guide,” a social media instructor at ClickZ Academy and an international speaker.