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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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5 Responses to “Making Social Media Matter For Business (Pt. 2)”

  1. Danny Brown August 3, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Nice viewpoints, Mandy. I think a lot of people are looking at social media as the game-changer for business, and while it’s making an impression on how we act, it’s not (or shouldn’t be) too different from what we’re already doing.

    If businesses weren’t already listening to customers, taking onboard new ideas, keeping an open flow of conversations coming in, then they’re often likely to take that same attitude online. The tools will help us create new paths, but at the end of the day it’s still down to the person how the path is walked. Hopefully businesses will continue to pick up on this.

  2. Laura Livengood Schaub (InterLeafer) August 3, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    Nice post, Mandy! I liked ‘if it’s rude at a party, it’s rude in the social media space,’ that’s exactly right. I’ve been approaching companies in my industry about SM consulting, and the start is always a conversation, how’s business, what are you seeing right now, where do you see a need for improvement, etc. If they say (and they always do) something about communication, getting the word out there about what they do or what they have, that’s my opener, and those conversations, so far, have gone very well. Nice list of resource links too (and your sidebar is looking very nice today!)

  3. Mandy Vavrinak August 4, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Thanks Danny & Laura… I think sometimes even ideas that are not new (like SM represents tools to connect) are worth another look/presentation. I am hoping more companies and individuals alike will spend a wee bit of time understanding social media before either discounting it or embracing it 🙂

    • Mandy Vavrinak August 9, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

      Terrah,

      I think you summed it up well with “Give respect, get respect.” Thanks for reading & commenting!

  4. Terrah August 9, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading your post, i’m new to all this social media stuff and don’t exactly know how it all works so to get some insight on it helps a ton. i’ve never really looked at it as anything close to meeting someone in person but after reading your post it makes perfect since, they are real people that you are talking to and you have treat them like it. Give respect, get respect!

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