Thursday, February 21, 2013

Social Media and Your Business

There has been a lot of talk about social media over the past few years (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIN, YouTube). Chances are you use one or more of of them for fun or socializing now.  The question is, how to use these communication channels effectively for business.

Using social media is actually just a bit of common sense. (Again, I often say common sense and polite will get you far in marketing.) Think about the space you are in as a business. Think about your message. Think about your time. And then make a commitment, in writing on a calendar, to follow through with your message in a timeframe that works for you.
Here are a few real world examples (and one faux pas)  to get you thinking:
- Example 1:  Do you sell a service where you go into a person's home? (Electrician, plumber, etc.) Be on Facebook where people can share with their circle of friends how trustworthy you are. It takes just minutes to set up a Page for your business, and Facebook's help center can walk you through it. Extra: And occasionally check Angie's List to see what's said about you.
- Example 2: Is your expertise the product? (Coach, professional consultant, etc.) Be on LinkedIN with your best professional foot forward. Make it a point to share out useful information in "updates" and connect with people. Consider noting when you have openings in your schedule in the "updates". Extra: Be sure to personalize the connection invitation!
- Example 3: Do you sell pretty things? Facebook and a good emailing service like Constant Contact (with the new smart phone integration which makes e-mailing out a quick update very easy) could be a godsend for getting out the word quickly on the newest pretty things to arrive. Extra: Constant Contact will even handle all the pesky details like FTC regulations on SPAM.

The Faux Pas
I often pass a certain wedding boutique. They have up a big sign asking people to like them on Facebook (perfect). The sign also notes that their Twitter account will be up soon (fail). 
The wedding boutique sells a visual dream. Facebook is a perfect choice for getting brides to share out what they are doing with their wedding. It's a natural lead generator. Twitter? Oh no. Visual dream. The social media answer to a visual dream is Pintrest, where the business could post package weddings and allow brides to create dream boards of their wedding. A much better social media fit for their business.

Every day is a big commitment, especially if you run a small business. My suggestion is to schedule a half hour twice a week to set up information to drop 3 or 4 times a week. (I'm huge advocate of the scheduling tool HootSuite.) If you prefer to work "in the moment",  use the same idea of scheduling a small block of time to start.

Forbes has a great article on some of the communication activities you can and should be tackling.

To think about...
Another of the words being used is "Content Curation". What does it mean? Paying attention to what you say in the digital landscape, keeping on a schedule and using the best social channels for your business.