The Real Questions Behind Social Media In Business

So what is this social media thing all about? Do I get a blog started, or maybe chat with people about nothing on strangely named applications like twurk or plitter (Yes, I realize that’s not what they are called)? Can I make money with social media? Will my business look unprofessional in the context of social media?

The answer isn’t as straight-forward or as simple as “yes” or “no” but it’s not as complex as we seem to make it either. We have just been asking the wrong question the whole time. While I do appreciate that blogs are read by a large percentage of people and twitter is growing at a record pace it’s about more than these simple stats. Here is the magic questions…..dun dun dun….Can this fit into my companies existing marketing strategy? Do I really know how to use social media? Does my target market exist on these platforms?

So it’s really not a question of the tools. It’s a question of strategy and implementation. So without knowing your marketing strategy or your target here are a few tips to help you avoid the old school interuption marketing approach within social media.

1) This is an important one: Follow all valid followers. I’ve said it a million times but I always get questioned on this. Social media isn’t social unless it’s a two way conversation. This isn’t advertising on TV, print or radio you need to listen even more than you talk.

Once you have followed all of these people how do you manage them and interact with them? This can be tricky because the more people that you have following you the harder it is to keep that personal touch, but it just requires a different perspective on the situation. Look at your social media following like it’s a party. While you can’t be involved in all conversations make sure you respond to the people talking directly to you within a fairly short period of time and engage in interesting conversations that occur.

2) Don’t use auto follow and more importantly don’t use auto follow with a sales pitch attached. This is another form of interruption marketing that might sound like a good idea but in a social media context it will not typically be received well. Social media is all about the conversation so if it isn’t something you would say to someone you’ve just met in a social situation then don’t say it here. Build your relationships and listen to what people need. Once they learn what you do they will be more than happy making use of your services and passing out references.

3) Use a picture of yourself. Sure, you may work for the biggest company in the world but social media is about the connection between individuals. Seeing a face will allow your audience to get to know you on a completely different level while building your own personal brand. An amazing example of this is Frank (@ComcastCares on twitter). Frank has changed many peoples views on Comcast as a company including mine but we all know him as Frank. If he was just a number within the company we wouldn’t have the faith in him we do.

4) Allow people to opt out. You can’t hold people hostage to your subscription services. Respecting peoples space is very important. I have seen numerous situations where followers have tried to unsubscribe to services for one reason or another and were unable to. This hurts your credibility and can cause followers to share negative opinions of you online which of course isn’t a great idea in terms of reputation management.

5) Don’t remove yourself from the conversation. Allow people to comment on your blog entries and media portals such as Facebook and Myspace. By disabling comments to protect yourself from outside opinions you remove yourself from the conversation. This means any chance of building advocacy or reputation management is lost. People will still share their opinions but now they will be forced to do so outside of your environment resulting in even less control. Address negative posts and thank the positive. Remember, sometimes losing control to a degree is the best way to maintain control.

Please let me know your questions and thoughts. Social media is ever evolving opportunity so jump into the conversation and maybe we can all learn something.

For more cool social media and business awesomeness check out Above the Buzz

Thanks,
Scott

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3 Responses to “The Real Questions Behind Social Media In Business”

  1. Good stuff my friend- thanks! 🙂 I totally agree with all of them but especially #2. I truly cannot stand auto replies that are 100% promotional.

  2. Great blog Scott. I’m glad you followed me on twitter. I’m adding you to my feed. Unlike many social media peeps, you actually have something interesting and useful to say. thanks for sharing.

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