You have been invited to “link” to people on LinkedIn, “follow” people on Twitter, and be someone’s friend on Facebook, and to be a “fan”. You also have been asked to join Namz, and Foursquare, Hootsuite and any number of other weird sounding stuff. It is confounding, time consuming and here is the big question (with apologies to Clara Peller) “Where is the beef?”
How does all this social media stuff get business and generate revenue? All legitimate questions.
I will confess- I am hooked on certain elements of social media. Not because I just like them but because they are generating results for my business. I have 21,680 direct connections on LinkedIn, and 15,770 members of my own private LinkedIn group Motivation Nation. It is the largest motivation group on all of LinkedIn. I only bring this up to show that I am doing it, and I have learned some key concepts I would like to share with you to save time on your social media learning curve.
#1 — Do you need to be involved with social media at all? OK this really is the big question. In my opinion the answer is a definitive yes. Why? Well the numbers don’t lie. Let’s look at LinkedIn as an example. There are 300 million people on LinkedIn. Their demographics are high earners, college educated and 49% are decision makers. That is just LinkedIn. Many types of social media can be used for advertising, marketing, recruitment and research. I was meeting with a prospective client for dinner. The company is based in Idaho and that is where their office is headquartered. Using a quick search on LinkedIn I discovered their CEO lived in another state. So I of course asked about that during dinner. My dinner guest almost dropped his fork and said “let me tell you- that is not public information.” He wanted to know how I knew that. I told him how I knew. I landed a new client. By the way, this information was not available on Google. So being involved with social media can enhance your credibility and improve your ability to do research.
#2 — What is your objective? Just like any other initiative in business, there has to be a reason for being involved in any form of social media. Are you there to prospect, increase brand awareness, inform, recruit, educate? There are various channels on You Tube where you can post “how to” instructional videos. Gary Vaynerchuk has videos on You Tube called Wine Library TV- he is educating people about wine and put his business ( a local wine shop) into the stratosphere by doing simple “how to” videos about wine. One word of caution- don’t just get on social media because you should, and don’t be ridiculous while you’re doing it. It can kill your reputation. Here is an example – people who get on Twitter and send out a tweet that reads “I am having a slice of pizza.” How is that going to generate business or build the brand? As a good example here a real tweet I got today: “Extreme fat burning workout and free DVD for our fans” (followed by a tiny URL Link) That is a message that had value.
#3 — How do the various social media channels integrate? Huh? I am saying that if you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.- how do they all fit together? For example you can take a video clip and post it on You Tube, then using something like Hootsuite (a free software program) push the link of that video to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The link can then drive people back to your website. Now link all of that to an ad campaign. Mission Control- we now have integration! I have read about bakeries that massively increase their sales on a specific day by tweeting a special of the day. It also gives people a reason to follow them.
#4 — Figure out how to get people out of the closed loop. In every social media you are on Twitter or on LinkedIn and the only way to communicate is through their messaging system. In LinkedIn you send an “In mail” on Twitter a “tweet”, on Facebook a “note” or an “update.” The owners of these devices want you to stay in their system. Your goal is to eventually get them out of the closed system into an open system like email or a phone call.
#5 — Know the rules and how they work. Each social media is its own little world. They each have their own rules and guidelines and way things work. If you violate them your hand will get slapped. Some will even kick you off for violating terms of service. If you are getting involved in some sort of social media, spend some time there first checking out the landscape.
#6 — Have a social media budget. I am not talking about dollars- most social media is free. I am talking about how much time you will spend on social media each week. A more important question is how much time will your team members spend on social media each week? Which social media? Some companies block access entirely. Let’s face we do have other things to accomplish.
#7 — Social media is “social” and as such you have to use finesse. If you went to a networking event you wouldn’t just run around the room immediately “pitching” everyone- right? ( I hope not) in this case it is the same- you are networking with people online instead of in a room- across the region, the nation and the world. It’s a very big room. So build relationships by helping others, provide advice, building relationships first. Relationships equal trust and trust equals sales.
I do not think social media is a fad but a powerful tool that will more and more traction as a valid tool. As older people leave and the younger generation employees (who are avid technology users) will be the decision makers of tomorrow. The question is will you be ready?
The article originally appeared in B2B Magazine.
Photo: Getty Images