Are you here because you want to be or because someone in your company forced you to “get with it” on social media?
Over time I’ve had conversations with several business executives and been surprised (actually more shocked than surprised) to learn that they were closet social media illiterates.
Social Media Is Here to Stay
Before you decide to move on to another site, be warned: social media is here to stay and you owe it to your business to learn how it could produce results for your business.
Here are several of the excuses I’ve heard:
- The “I just don’t get it” excuse. This Twitter “thing” seems silly. What’s a tweet?
- My kids are on Facebook and I constantly worry they will be sharing personal information that could get them in trouble. I don’t want everyone to know my business so I’m not opening an account.
- I’m not looking for a job, so why do I want to be on LinkedIn? Or, I can’t be active on LinkedIn because my company will know I’m looking for a job.
- What’s Google+?
- Blogs are for movie stars and celebrities who just want to spill their guts.
- I don’t have time.
The most common excuse was that they just “didn’t get it.” When I dug deeper I discovered that 1) they were too lazy to learn about social media, or 2) they were too scared to learn, or 3) they didn’t think social media could help their company.
Why Social Media is Important
Social media is important for businesses that sell services and those that sell products. It’s important whether you are in the B2C space selling to retail consumers or in B2B, selling to other companies.
If you can admit to yourself that you’ve simply been lazy or too scared to learn, you need to find out if your competitors are eating your lunch while you’ve been asleep at the wheel. Search the web for your product or service category and see what company names come up. Is yours one of them?
Learn if your competitors are active on social media. Are they selling directly to the public or simply building brand recognition with their blogs and posts to social media networks?
What networks are they using? How many followers do they have and are these followers your own customers or targets? That should worry you. If you aren’t proactive you need to be at least playing defense.
Both large and small organizations are posting content to their social media accounts and networks like Facebook and Twitter are seeing an exponential increase in advertising revenue.
How to Get Started
This may seem awfully basic to my regular readers and subscribers, but I’m going to show you how easy it is to get started. You’ve got to take your first baby steps. Don’t feel obliged to be active on every single social network.
Yes, your kids – and maybe you – have a personal Facebook account. But your business needs a Facebook Page. Click here to get started. Facebook makes it easy. It shows you examples of other company pages and there is a link at the bottom that will take you to Facebook’s Help Center.
Facebook Pages are particularly useful for companies that sell products and services to the retail market. You can sell directly from Facebook or direct visitors to your own website to make their purchases. Click here to learn more about advertising on Facebook.
Facebook is not the primary business network for professional services firms such as law firms and accountants. They use it mainly as a recruiting tool or for their community outreach programs.
A study by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, found that companies on the Inc. 500 believe Twitter has the greatest potential for sales growth. To open your unpaid account click here. To learn more about on advertising on Twitter click here. I recently wrote a blog post about my advertising trial on Twitter. It didn’t work for me but it could for you.
Twitter enables you to build relationships with customers, potential customers and influencers by becoming their followers – that is, you will receive their updates in your timeline. Conversely, people who follow you will receive your updates – these could be 140-character tweets about your company and services.
Many companies have opened Twitter accounts that are staffed 24/7 by customer service representatives to answer questions, solve problems and to provide up-to-the-minute updates on service interruptions.
This happens to be my primary network. At the heart of LinkedIn are its two million Groups. That’s where members with common interests congregate to share information and make new connections and engage with customers. You are sure to find the right Groups for you.
I’ve connected with some terrific people on LinkedIn who have become friends and referral sources. I found my webmaster in the WordPress Group.
LinkedIn is no doubt the network with the most active job mart if you are looking for a job or seeking candidates. I know many people that have gotten jobs through LinkedIn and companies that identified ideal candidates.
It’s important to have a robust and up-to-date personal Profile on LinkedIn because potential employers and customers will invariably turn to LinkedIn to learn more about you. It will damage your brand if you don’t have a photo or if your Profile is incomplete.
Google got into the social media game late and is playing catch-up with Facebook, its principal rival. To open a Google+ account click here. To learn more about Google+ ads click here. Your Gmail account or Google Adwords account will serve as your login to Google+.
A key feature of Google+ is Google Hangouts, which enable you to have videoconferences, similar to Skype. The other feature is Circles. You can segregate your connections into separate categories, and then tailor your content to each Circle. You can read more in a post I wrote about Google+.
The final network I’ll write about is Pinterest. In this network you pin – or share — images on Boards you create for different categories of images, such as recipes, Halloween costumes, Christmas, kids, animals, you name it. These can be your own images or those you “pin” from blogs or other media.
Designers and consumer products companies have generated millions of pins and followers for their products that have turned into sales. To create a Pinterest business account, click here. To advertise on Pinterest, click here.
Choose What’s Right For You
Remember at the beginning of this post I said that you don’t have to be on every social network. I meant it. I joined Pinterest when it first launched. I specialize in social media and felt I needed to learn how it worked. Besides, it might be good for my business.
But I mainly use stock photos in my blog and occasionally photos I’ve taken. I know that many of my blogging friends have Pin It on their images so they can be pinned to other people’s boards. But I thought who would be interested in my stock photos?
Where would I find time to pin images to Boards I’d need to create? So I closed my account. Honestly, it was a relief. One less thing to worry about.
I’ve just skimmed the surface. There are tons of articles on the web about each of these networks, plus Instagram and YouTube, which I didn’t cover. If you want to learn more about how to use any of these networks surf the web and ask your friends what’s worked for them.
But do something. If you’ve identified yourself as a social media illiterate it’s time to get with the program. You and your business are losing out on the opportunity to make new connections and engage with your existing customers in these burgeoning communities.
Below is a graph from the U. Mass Inc. 500 study that shows how the companies on that list are using social media. This may help you in making your decision about where to get started.
What social networks have worked for your business? Have you dropped any networks from your arsenal?