Sunday, May 19, 2013

The One Reason Why You Can't Ignore Social Media!

Many business owners believe they have a choice as to whether they include social media as part of their marketing initiatives.

However, this is a mistake. You see you can't treat social media like traditional marketing  channels. Why? Well with traditional marketing, you as the business owner push out the marketing message via radio, paper, television, email, catalogues, brochures etc in the hope that customers, both old and new, hear your message and act. The marketing message goes one way, with no interaction with the customer until they visit your premises or website to purchase.

Social media is quite the opposite. Although you can push your marketing message out via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, your business will most likely be being talked about by customers on social media already. In other words, they are instigating the discussion without your involvement. So can you afford not to be part of the conversation?

I recently went on a trip to the US where we drove Route 66 from East to West, a fabulous experience. There was much to organise, from air fares, to car hire, accommodation, attractions and meals. Did we look in books and brochures? Yes we did - but er relied more on the conversation on forums and discussion groups such as Tripadviser,, Historic,, Yelp and various Route 66 Facebook pages. In these forums, people wrote about their experiences and we took their comments and recommendations in making decisions in respect of all aspects of the trip. We virtually ignored all traditional marketing channels. Or if we cam across something of interest on traditional marketing channels, we always checked the forums to see what customers were saying or recommending.

So how do you monitor what is going on out there in the social media world? Well, apart from establishing your  brand on social media with a Facebookand/or Twitter or some other platform, what can you do?

One of the simplest thing is to register your business name with Google Alerts
( . You can set this up to email you when your business name is mentioned. Another option is Social Mention  ( ).

How should you react to any commentary, particularly negative? I did cover this is my earlier articles on social media (refer to archives). Common sense should prevail - respond positively to feedback, deal with negativity politely - try to take any negative conversation "off line" but be seen to be dealing with it positively on line. This can be done by providing a phone number for the "complainant" to contact you. What you shouldn't do is deal with it like this......mail Chris 1:16 PM

To get the story behind the Facebook reaction, make sure you view the video, which is a cut from an episode of Gordon Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares". I'm unsure whether the episode actually went to air - but it is very entertaining!

So, you can see, the conversation can go on without you. But if you choose to participate (and you should), it's important that you manage the conversation - if handled correctly, what initially seemed to be a difficult situation can be turned into a positive opportunity for your business!

By the way, my visit to the US provided an interesting insight into the state of play of community pharmacy in that country. From what I saw, it was virtually dead. The majority of pharmacies were part of chains, such as Walgreens, CVS, Woolworths and Walmart. Many, particularly Walgreens and CVS had drive through service. These two chains were also virtually 711 stores with a pharmacy included. I could count on one hand the number of independent community pharmacies - and these were in tiny towns. Even towns over 2000 upwards had a Walgreens or CVS pharmacy. Is this the future of community pharmacy in Australia?
(Note: The article was written by me as a contributing writer for Information for Pharmacists, an online pharmacy journal )

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