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Making Social Media Matter For Business (Pt. 2)

I shared some of what I’ve learned about making social media work for business with the Social Media Mastermind Tulsa group last week and in this post. I promised to follow up with a blog post including some of the references I’ve found helpful, and here they are:

Five Social Media Wins for Your Small Business

The Art of Business Blog Writing

Fundamentals of Facebook

Social Networking for Business on Facebook: Rules You Should Know

Twitter 101 for Business

How People Share Content on the Web

Social Network Marketing: What Works

Study: Social Media Pays

Relevance: The Digital Fabric of our Lives

Engagement: Brands Who Are Most Engaged (PDF report, lots of info)

What does all this mean? It means that marketing hasn’t changed… it’s still connecting people to other people, ideas, products and services. Social media can provide a useful, powerful platform to initiate and cultivate those connections, but it’s not an automatic event. In other words, just being on Twitter or Facebook, etc., won’t create connections. Like nearly anything else worth doing, it requires planning, effort, thought and dedication to make the best use of social media tools to help market your business. Remember that social media is first and foremost, well, social. If what you’re doing (or about to do) would be rude at a party or other social gathering, it’s rude in the social media space. Would you go up to random people at a party and say, “Hey, buy my widget!”? Probably not… you’d probably start with names, small talk, maybe some “so, what do you do?” talk and then move on to “we should get together and talk about that XYZ problem your company is having… I think I might be able to help.” In other words, you’d get to know each other before you pushed messaging at each other.

Treating social media like mass marketing is a critical mistake many businesses new to this space make. People on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, blogs, and so on have chosen to hear what you have to say. Make what you say, and what you seek/hear/respond to worth the investment of their time. I say “hear” because one of the most powerful things we can do as humans is to really hear another’s thoughts, desires, wants and needs. Nothing validates us like someone really listening. The same is true online (remember, marketing is still marketing… it’s the tools that are different). Make use of Google alerts, advanced Twitter searches, third party apps (I could go on) to listen to the social media sphere…. what are people saying about not just your business, but your field? What are their pain points? What is keeping their current experience from being wonderful? Can you fix it/change it/offer them an alternative? Listening first, then engage, and you’ll be well on your way to social media success.

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