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02

October

What Social Media Is and Isn’t In Business

Recently my wife was holding my hand and looking at me, asking if I was OK.  As I stared at her bleary-eyed she said, “Since I’ve known you, I have never seen you in a five hour business meeting.  What happened?”

Good question.

I couldn’t really explain it, and later started to grasp what I learned.  Danielle Lanyard, from www.openventuresociety.com and my social media consultant, had just taken me through an intense and full-out training on what works and doesn’t work in the world of business and social media.

And it was overwhelming, even for someone with an MBA in Information Systems, to fully grasp the depth and power it has to offer small businesses.

Yet walking away from that meeting, I learned that social media is turning business marketing upside down, and well as how to manage and use it successfully.  And while it is still less than a year old in the business world, it will likely be the #1 source of marketing within the next couple of years.

As Danielle finished my training, she explained that the businesses that embrace social media first are going to be the businesses that will benefit far better than those that join later.  And most businesses still have not jumped on board yet.

Is this you?

Why to get your business into Social Media:

  • Build relationships with those you normally don’t have access to
  • Access to others exponentially via word of mouth
  • Build brand awareness to much greater audiences
  • Search engines will pick you up much better
  • Mitigate negative experiences of your company quickly and powerfully
  • Over time, build sales to much greater audiences
  • Allows you to focus on “Social” component of triple-bottom-line

Very simply, social media is an extraordinary tool for creating relationships online.

That’s it.  But this simple tool creates relationships far beyond what has been known even a year or two ago.  It also allows people to congregate and have access to each other and share resources and information that once was privy only to large businesses and government.

For example, the power of Twitter creating the riots experienced in Iran over the recent elections.

At the sake of oversimplifying things, how it works is people congregate real-time around topics and issues that interest them using a medium they choose.  In plain

English this means you pick a topic you want to know more about, and meet online with others to share information and create relationships… live and in the moment.

What this translates to in business is when you create or link up with communities related to what you do as a business and you create relationships with them through contributing and sharing, you can create a powerful following in months.

Once you connect with people from with these established communities and then share what you can offer them in the way of products or services, they are much more likely to be interested and also pass it along to their followers in their communities.

And the impact can be exponential.

One company, Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck in LA http://kogibbq.com/ has been using social media with great results.  They’re clientele are young and tech-savvy and quickly amassed 14,000 followers.  They now use Twitter to broadcast where their food trucks are located and have lines of people waiting for their tacos.

Another company, CoffeeGroundz www.CoffeeGroundz.net, a coffee shop in Houston that stumbled upon becoming the first to-go takeout order place via Twitter.  Being the first created a lot of buzz on Twitter, where their online orders have become popular.

CoffeeGroundz now hosts Tweet-Ups – events where local Twitterers meet up to chat, network and generally get to know people better. Not only does this generate great PR for CoffeeGroundz, but they also provides more revenue from the 100+ Twitterers!

To do this successfully, the power is in the giving.  There is a basic rule of thumb with social media:  95% giving and 5% asking.  In fact, if you get online and start selling something to your community without any relationship building, you will lose your community quickly.

Be aware of the myths vs. realities of social media:

Myths

  • It’s quick
  • It’s easy integrate with your business
  • You can make a quick buck

 

Realities

  • Takes time
  • Takes consistency
  • Takes giving (not receiving)

Yet you might find once you start you will get rolling in no time.  Focus on building relationships through giving information.  Then just see where it takes you from there.

Action  Steps for the Week:

  • ASAP:  Set up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.  Use a userid that is consistent with your company’s brand
  • Commit to at least 30 minutes a day to comment on other’s blogs, tweets, Facebook  announcements, and answer questions on LinkedIn, etc.
  • Download and use Bit.ly and Tweetdeck to track people following you and your posts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Start following your colleagues and popular people in your industry
  • Join and/or create groups and communities on these social media sites
  • Start contributing to others

“Most importantly,” Danielle told me, “just start somewhere.”

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