With technology moving at such a rapid pace, and yesterday’s technologies being out of date by tomorrow, to stay at the head of the game we must embrace this change and move with it.
The biggest change in the way we now communicate globally is the revelation of social media. Its impact has been so huge that we can now communicate across the planet with such ease that our marketplaces have got significantly larger, and our networks are now much easier to reach.
For those unaware of what the term ‘social media’ relates to, it is the collective term of platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, and these forms of media are changing the way that we now communicate. This shift in communications sounds drastic, and for many we are fearful of change – particularly when there is technology involved. However, this is nothing new; this is just modern day word of mouth, and as a tool for building business is like stepping back in time. This is about building relationships with your customers and community, as well as understanding what others are saying about you, to build your brand and grow your business.
In this article, I want to give you the basics in a simple process that all can follow, get you off to a great start with social media and ensure that it can start to help you and your business. One thing I am not is an expert. However, I have used social media with great results for both my own business and for clients, and I am happy to share those lessons with you.
First Impressions Count!
Just like in the real world, you never get a second chance to make a first impression when it comes to social media. Before you open for business, I would seriously recommend that you take the time to complete your profiles fully.
On LinkedIn, this means completing all fields from start to finish. It serves as your online CV, and if you were looking for a new job then you would certainly make sure that your CV shared the right message and was complete. On Twitter, you only have a few characters, so ensure that your biography delivers a strong message that intrigues people to find out more.
On all platforms, the visual appearance is also critical. You can use certain areas to apply your brand identity and convey your business message. This can be done simply and easily by speaking with your designers to create the correct sized artwork. Consider your photography. These are social platforms, so images should be warm, friendly and not too corporate, and I believe should always include the image of a person and not just that of a company logo.
Once you are all set, up most people start to worry about their outbound content. Now your content and posts are important, yet only when people are listening. Social media is particularly useful as a communication tool to the people that already know you, so I would start there. If using it for business, then my first action would be to connect with as many of your existing customers and contacts as possible. You can do this by uploading your contacts as a database and sending out an invitation. Additionally you should look to use all current communication tools to let people know that you are active on social media. This means adding social media icons to your e-mail signature and stationery, informing all your customers when you write to them, making it a news story on your website and adding leaflets or posters in the view of your customers to entice them to your profiles. To actually get them to your profiles is harder than just asking though, so running a competition or great offer to reward them for visiting your profiles, and connecting with you, will drastically improve your chances. Remember that investing in this audience is critical in achieving social media success; without an audience, your great work could be wasted.
When it comes to content, the key is to remember that these are social platforms. Very few people are enjoying times on social media because they want to be sold to. To be interesting, you need to be varied with your communication and show yourself as human. If your message becomes
monotonous, you become boring and people stop listening, so keep your outbound content varied. For me this means posting in 3 areas:
- Firstly, commenting on or sharing useful information relating to your wider industry as a whole.
- Secondly, presenting your products and services but only with customer focused offers relating to the action that precedes the sale and not the sale itself. For example, if you were a car retailer, you should provide an offer to get people to visit the showroom and not to buy the car.
- Finally, be human. To succeed in Social Media, you must be prepared to share some personal information. Life and family events, as well as successes and failures, are great ways of starting dialogue.
Please remember that the aim of posting content is to start a conversation or encourage debate. Starting conversation with your contacts opens you up to their contacts and then your network grows!