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Your Business & Social Media: Making It Worthwhile For You AND Your Public
October 25th, 2013
For several years, now, media, pundits and business advisors have been telling companies to get on the bandwagon and get themselves a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media presence; They claim that doing so will earn them bazillions of followers and bucketloads of cash.
Of course, it rarely, if ever, works out that way, does it ?
The reason for this is usually pretty simple: People who own a business making widgets are usually pretty darned good at making widgets, but when it comes to the concept of social media on the web, they... well, there's no other way to put it: They suck.
There are far, far too many business social media presences out there that consist solely of posts advertising products on sale, information about products or why they are better than their competitors.
That. Does. Not. Work.
The Secret to Social Media
Here's the secret to social media: Despite what the stockholders may say, social media does not belong to business; It belongs to the people. This is excruciatingly important to understand because, in essence, you, the business owner, are intruding into the consumers' space.
This really isn't any in depth piece of brilliance: Think about it, for a moment; When you log into Facebook, is your primary desire and thought along the lines of "Gee, I wonder which fabric softener will get my blankets fleecy soft ?"
People log into social networks for - Wait for it - in fact: Brace yourself: They log into social networks to socialize. They're there to have a little fun and, perhaps, learn a few things.
The first thing you have to understand about social media is that, as a business, your goal isn't to sell stuff on your Facebook page: It is to drive traffic to your website, where THERE is the goal to sell stuff (and even then, that's not entirely accurate - see The secret to getting a good Google rank ? Your site has to be good. ).
Getting people to actually WANT to visit your Facebook page
Before people will go from Facebook to your site, however, they have to actually want to read what you have to say on Facebook (or Twitter, or LinkedIn, etc); In order for them to actually want to read your stuff on Facebook, they need to know that simply by viewing your page, they're not going to be bombarded with "BUY OUR STUFF!!!" messages.
So what does a good social media page for a business consist of ?
Educating your public is always a good start, for one - And not just about your company and its products and services. Take life insurance, for example. For many, that might be a pretty dry and boring subject - to many, it might even be depressing. But how many consumers know that some life insurance policies actually pay dividends ? Or that you could get life insurance for just when your kids are in school ?
How about a life insurance company that encourages its clients NOT to need to make a claim by posting health information about exercise and diet - including healthy recipies (And recipes, by the way, are one of the largest search items on the Internet - Betcha didn't know that, did you ?)
Or how about freight management ? Now there's a topic many small businesses probably think they don't even have to worry about until they're a multi-million dollar company - How about tips about efficiently organizing a warehouse - even a small one - efficiently to improve the pick-pack-ship process ? How about tips and pointers to other shippers, like Fedex or Purolator, when they have a special or a sale on ? (Yes, you heard me: Promoting your competition, when you know that, for a particular service or product, you simply cannot beat shows your customers that you actually do
And you know what else ? A little humour never hurts, either: Show your public that there are actual human beings running your company and not a bunch of stuffed suits who are trying to appear perfect. I saw an Internet Service Provider (ISP) post during an outage that they do their best to make things right, when things go wrong - be that weather, cut cables, power outages or Yeti attacks. I'm tellin' ya: The Yeti attacks thing drew a ton of positive attention their way - even though they were going through something that would normally be egg on their faces. (Distributel - www.distributel.com - Kudos for the Yeti attack preparedness!)
Consistency is key
The other thing about social media; You have to be constant and regular (err, no, I'm not about to try to sell you dietary fibre supplements...) One of the worst things one can see on a social media page is entries separated by weeks or months. The Internet is huge - I point this out because there is a lot to distract your publics' attention away from you; There is little more fatal to potential new customers than attracting their initial attention and then losing it because you don't make it worth their while to come back and visit again.
All of this is done with the goal of establishing credibility and trust in the public who are viewing your social media page. When they feel that you actually know what you're talking about, that you've given good advice, then - and only then - will they visit your site with the openness of mind to considering your products or services as solutions to their needs.
All of this isn't to say that you can't intersperse all of the efforts above with the occasional product or service highlight - But make it relevant to your viewers and whatever you do; Don't inundate them with the hard sell on social media; They are doing you the favour by visiting your page - not the other way around. I say "doing you the favour" - because they are most often on Facebook, for example, for entertainment or distraction: Checking out an actual, serious business site in their entertainment venue really is doing the business a favour: It is up to you to make sure you earn that favour - and keep earning it.