“An entrepreneur does his first blog posting and thinks, ‘Wow, everyone is going to come read this now.’ But that’s not how it works,” Leary says. The “build it and they will come” mindset can quickly turn to frustration for business owners, who must use a more proactive approach to social media. To garner interest in a blog posting, for example, companies with 500 followers on Twitter should mention the new post on the latter, and then provide a link for interested cybersurfers.
Bullock, who was recently voted one of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Men in Social Media, says Obama used a similar strategy with his thousands of Twitter followers. “Anytime he shared a thought, it went out to everyone who was following him,” explains Bullock. “Business owners who use this approach position themselves as authorities in the marketplace, command more income, and sell more products and services.”
Businesses go wrong in the social media space when they treat it like traditional advertising. A better angle is to first listen to what others are doing in the online space, and then figure out how to use the Web to convey useful information. “Build an identity first,” Bullock suggests, “and employ the interactive aspect of social media (such as comment and feedback postings) to get people interested in what you’re doing.”
Of course, Obama’s campaign wasn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter. Using a “be everywhere, and all the time” approach, the president relied on television, radio, magazines, more than 15 social media platforms and his own Website to create a successful viral campaign strategy. Joining the cause were people such as the “Obama Girl,” whose online video proclamation of love for the candidate generated tens of millions of hits.
To companies looking to emulate Obama’s success, Leary and Bullock say, don’t get overwhelmed, and don’t try to do too much too soon. “When you come into social media you get the idea that you have to be out there all the time, and you’re afraid of missing something,” Bullock says. “Start by choosing one platform (such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) and then expand from there. Don’t think you have to do it all.”
View an excerpt of Barack 2.0 – Barack Obama’s Social Media Lessons for Business here.