Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Social Media: Reaching the "Critical Point".

Reaching the "Critical Point"
Have you ever seen a big airplane – let’s say an Airbus 340, for instance – running down the runway for takeoff? Have you noticed how, during the beginning of its rollout, the big airplane appears to move really, really slow, to start speeding up little by little and, all of a sudden, start moving faster, then lifting its nose and start climbing up to the sky to reach speeds of up to 500 kts/hr?

For me it’s always been an impressive sight which clearly demonstrates the fruit of human ingenuity.

The explanation is very simple:
  • When the takeoff roll gets started, the thrust generated by the four powerful turbines on the A340 is used to move the plane, only to overcome the resistance to movement caused by the weight of the aircraft sitting on the ground, which are a few thousand pounds.
  • Once this resistance disappears, all thrust available is used to push the airplane forward, reaching impressive speeds.
  • The point where you switch from "pushing" to "speeding-up" the aircraft occurs at a specific speed and is the "critical point" during the takeoff roll. If you raise the airplane’s nose sooner, it won’t climb up. If you do it later, may be there won’t be runway enough for takeoff. It's a simple matter of physics.

How does this apply to your “social media” marketing plan?

It’s surely not your case, but many entrepreneurs want, or need, their businesses to take off once and for all, produce money, be profitable and make them happy, and they embark on social media networks with these expectations. However, they fail to understand that, for their business to takeoff, they must have gone through a previous step: must have reached their "critical point" in their own takeoff roll.

Have you ever launched an email campaign and surprisingly received a really low response rate? Did you make a business page on facebook only to realize that interaction with your "fans" is very little and no one comments on your posts? Or have you lost the patience while seeing the number of your Twitter followers grow very slowly?

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. The problem with your social media marketing efforts is that you haven’t reached, as a company, product or brand, your "critical point" for takeoff.

Let’s start by the beginning: A properly planned strategy.

If you’ve followed the recommendations given by many specialized portals for the development of your social media marketing campaign, your strategy will be focused primarily on two elements: your customers and the development of relevant content that you share with them through the platforms of your choice.

If you haven’t done so, you’re setting yourself for failure: It will definitely take a longer time for your social media marketing plan to reach its "critical point" for takeoff or it might not reach it at all, which is worst. As in the case of an aircraft, if you don’t pay attention to details prior to takeoff, the airplane will probably not get off the ground. Again: it’s a matter of physics.

Unlike planes, where the "critical point" for takeoff is calculated mathematically, in business, nobody can say with certainty and numerical accuracy when you've reached this point.

How do you know you've reached your "critical point”?

Let’s say you have done your homework while creating your social media marketing plan. Then there are some key elements that will indicate you’re approaching your “critical point” for takeoff.

These elements are:
  • The content you post is commented on by your customers, suppliers and friends. This means that you’ve been able to develop a "social face" for your company, connected with your audience, created a bridge that lets you talk with them and the content you are posting is relevant.
  • Your followers and "fans" base is growing at a steady rate, naturally, or what is called "organic growth" without you having to be out there asking or pressing people in subtle ways to follow or like you.
  • Your customers use all available platforms to communicate with you, either directly through your website, email, facebook, twitter, Google + or any platforms that you’ve set up. Caution: It doesn’t mean that they communicate with you through all of them at the same time, just in case you were wondering.

From this moment on, you can say you've reached your "critical point" for takeoff. Then you’ll begin to see your audience growing naturally, day after day, and you might already have begun to see economic results, or money coming back, which at the end is what really matters.

However, you must have a little patience. A marketing campaign on social networks isn’t the magic wand that's going to turn your company into the # 1 business in the list of the most successful companies in the world overnight. But surely it will help your business grow and develop on a positive way.

Are you going to wait for things start coming your way or are you giving up?

Related article: I want to be in social networks, but don’t know where to start with.
Photo: Flickr - Airbus 340 taking off

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