Social media is fairly new and is much different compared to traditional media in that it’s not just a one-way communication channel. Social media works on layers of complex human behavior. It’s not just based on providing information about a product or service; it’s about conversation and engaging in conversation. For a business to use social media to its advantage, it takes a lot more than pure hustle. Social media requires the use of engagement to provide useful and meaningful information.
Here are six ways you can make social media work for your business:
#1 Follow the Measured “Giving” approach
Social media forces businesses and business owner to get generous about information. Consumers get online primarily to get informed. People want to make smart decisions and information they gather off the Internet provides them the knowledge and insights to make better buying decisions. As a brand or business, be at the forefront of this information sharing. Don’t talk about your brand, but share with potential consumers the information they need to buy, even if they might not buy your products or services. Why? Because doing so puts you in a favorable light and you become an expert. And guess what? People listen to experts.
That’s tough, isn’t it? Why spend copious amount of resources just to give it all away? Does it make any business sense?
Yes, it does.
It builds traction and more importantly, trust. It pulls people towards you. This principle is true not just for business, but for all aspects of life including building wealth, making friends, and building ever-lasting relationships.
It never fails.
#2 Adapting to new media is an art: Do what social media demands
Once upon a time, all you had to do was publish ads, flyers, brochures, and make incessant pitches to anyone who cares to listen. Following that, prospects became customers because the information they had access too was limited and there wasn’t too much of it out there for them to dwell on before they decide.
Today, it’s a different story. People will share information about your business, the products you sell, and their experiences. They fire away related questions in forums mentioning your brand and what you offer. In short, there’s an unprecedented outreach for conversations about your business so you need to be aware that having a good product offering or services really isn’t enough anymore. It’s about the total experience with your brand.
Social media demands listening. It requires businesses to tune-in, stay vigilant, respond to questions, manage conversations, and manage any possible damage to your brand.
Your ability to spark new discussions, engage with audiences and manage conversations that already exist determines what you get out of your social media efforts.
#3 Solve problems
Consider this: you sell dog food from your eCommerce store. Automatically, it’s assumed that you are an expert on “dog food”. When community discussions sprout up where people have questions about their inability to decide what type of dog food is best for their puppies, how this diet should change with their pets’ age, etc., it’s time for you to pitch in with your expertise. It’s important to understand your job isn’t to sell, you simply solving their issue will do that for you. Of course, you need to make sure your profile or signature has a link to your store but don’t hard sell. Don’t pitch products unless relevant and don’t talk about your business; just solve their problems.
#4 Show up. Where are you?
Sererra.com – an IT, web services, and end-to-end consulting company — has a post on the strategic use of social media buttons. I suggest you give it a read. Why? Cause sharing is what social media is all about. There are a number of social media networks you need to include to be relevant and attract a large audience. Depending on the type of your business, FourSquare and Yelp are good ones if your business has a local presence. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter are more global in reach and should be included regardless if your local or global.
#5 Suggest. Ask. Insinuate
Having a business presence, a relentless quest to engage, generosity, supporting others by sharing their content or ideas, a flair for connecting with key network members, etc., will all work in your favor. The impact will be minimal until you learn the fine art of insinuation. Be sure to create a balance in your social media activity. Remember your goal is to inform as much as possible, but feel free to suggest your product offerings. When doing so, don’t sell, just inform.
#6 Do you have the itch to pitch? Use the 15: 1 method
Of course, if you are a hardwired business owner or a marketer, you’d find that social media is something of a change. You own a business and you want to sell your products right? Well if you have to pitch, follow the 15: 1 method (we just coined it that way): for every fifteen completely unbiased, general posts you publish on social media (such as Tweets, Facebook Page Content, Google+ updates, or images on Interest), try making one soft-pitch.
Remember your goal is to be an expert, not a sales person. Once you position yourself as that, the sales will start rolling in. I promise.
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