Social media networks

Did Someone In Your Company Force You To Read This Blog?

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.

Social media red letters
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.

Here goes:

Facebook

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.

Twitter

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.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn bills itself as the professional business network and it is. Click here to open a Company Page. Click here to open a personal account. Click here to learn about advertising on LinkedIn

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+

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+.

Pinterest

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.

Inc. 500 usage of social media

What social networks have worked for your business? Have you dropped any networks from your arsenal?

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Comments

  1. I can understand why some businesses would be hesitant to be on social media and see it as a giant time suck and a waste of precious time & resources. But as you say it’s here to stay. If I find that a company doesn’t have a social media presence, as a consumer I find that off putting. Time to bite the bullet!

  2. Hi Jeannette,

    I love this post because it surely is a reminder about the importance of Social Media. I personally use Facebook and Twitter at the moment but I am interested in getting more involved with Google +.

    For me the key is to not spread myself so thin and then get overwhelmed. I think that happens to a lot of bloggers. Thank you for such an awesome post.

  3. Like this post and I am thrilled by the title. Social media is here to stay and isn’t losing trend for a long time. You are right that that most people are scared to learn social media; instead, they give lots of excuses when there is a lot of opportunities for business only if they see the opportunity

    • Thanks for visiting, Ikechi. I agree that the majority of people are scared to embrace social media. It seems too daunting and it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone than to try something new and possibly fail at first.

  4. No-one forced me here Jeannette; just wanted to clear that up:)
    Thanks for listing these five very important social media platforms and a link to their sign up pages. You are right, social media in one form or another is here to stay and whether that be facebook (unlikely) or something else not yet available remains unknown. But one thing seems certain…it’s not going away.

    • Tim — thanks for coming voluntarily! Well, we know social media is not going away. Now we have to convince the laggards to catch up.

  5. Jeannette, you always have information that goes right to what I need to know. Right now I’m on Twitter and Google+ but don’t want to go any further until I know a whole lot more about how those work, then I’ll move on. I was thinking of moving to Pinterest next but may have to rethink that in favour of Facebook, not sure yet.
    Thanks for sharing – I really mean that.

    • Lenie — thanks, I’m so pleased that you found the post helpful. It really is important to pick the networks where your target audiences are congregating.

  6. I am happy to let you know no one has forced me to come here, I came here by my free will 🙂
    It is very informative post with the links of many important Social media platforms. I love as you said, it is not necessary to be on every plate form. I also believe that if we will be on all then we need a lot of time to go through all, I have profiles on all but , fact is I do not use all of them all the time. My graph shifts towards extremes when it come to social media , some with peaks and some with depressions.
    I was totally unaware that Linkedin is most powerful of all social media, as shown in graph.
    Thanks for nice share.

    • andleeb — I’d like to clarify that LinkedIn is the most used network for companies in the Inc. 500, a ranking of midsize companies. So that may not hold true for all companies. I understand what you say about having profiles on all the networks. I have a presence on the networks I discussed by I’m more active on some than others.

  7. Hi Jeannette – Social media is huge and it’s here to stay. I feel bad for people who didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away – but it’s never to late to get started and learn. It is a bit overwhelming though. With all the new things and constant changes. All the information you posted though is very helpful for someone who needs to get started. No time is better than today to take that first step. 🙂

    • Susan — thanks, I know the post was pretty basic for experienced pros like yourself. But there are still many people — business people — who don’t know where to begin so I hope my post is helpful to them. Got to start somewhere.

  8. I’ve been fascinated by all I’ve learned about social media since I started my blog. I’ve even gone as far to look at suitable social media manager part-time positions. My best friend is gradually working her way up to starting a blog. I keep encouraging her to read other blogs and to get more active on social media… otherwise it’s unlikely anyone will read what will be some truly excellent posts on ranch life.

    • Jeri — Like you, I started out not knowing much about social media but my blog was the gateway to all the social networks. I do believe a blog is the centerpiece of a social media strategy. It’s your home base where you establish your authority. You definitely could take on a social media manager position.

  9. I don’t think that anyone has to be forced to come to your site. You offer information that is valuable to us all. Plus there is always the building of a relationship. I have to say when I first started I had all the excuses and probably more why I didn’t want to get involved in social media. But I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks and the tricks have been profitable.

    • Arleen — Thanks for the support. I feel the same way. I’m also a dog who learned new tricks and what started out as a sort of lark has turned into a business. Glad it’s worked for you, too.

  10. It’s kind of funny that you wrote a post about social media just when I had given up on one particular thing… which I won’t say here.

    It’s neat to connect with so many different people on social media, though! Sometimes it’s good for business, sometimes blogging relationships, and sometimes to revisit friends you lost touch with.

    I am liking social media more and more these days.

    • Lorraine — You seem to have built a number of relationships (that I know of) on social media so I guess I’m a little surprised that you are only now getting to like social media more. Glad to hear it!

  11. Preaching to the choir on this one, Jeannette! Very nice summary in an easy to digest form for all those social media newbies out there. The only one I still question is Google +. I find it cumbersome for some reason….. Anyway, nice post, will share on my FB page.

    • Thanks for sharing, Laurie. I wrote this post because I know that so many business people (some I know personally) who are still on the fence about social media. I hope my post simplifies their getting started.

  12. Excellent post Jeannette! Because you are definitely right, social media is here to stay!

    And I agree that you don’t need to stretch yourself too thin by trying to be active on
    all the platforms, but without a doubt you have to be active on at least a few
    where your most likely customers and clients hangout!

    Thanks for laying it out and making it plain! Much appreciated!

    • Mark — that’s the key. Be where you you can connect with potential clients — and your existing clients, too. Got to keep them happy.