Social Media is Real
The social media phenomenon has grown exploded in the last few years Facebook has 135 million Twitter users send and receive millions of messages a day. Businesses can ignore the hundreds of millions of people engaged in social media, but that is very foolish. Businesses need to pay close attention to our increasingly interconnected society. Here are a few things to think about as a business owner.
Don’t Screw Up
Social Media is like high school; if you screw up everyone going to talk about it. This has always been true but the impact is far greater now. With the proliferation of user-generated review websites like yelp.com, your customers are not afraid to trash you on a website that gets significant traffic.
But angry yelpers aren’t the only thing you have to worry about. With social media, messages can spread very quickly through instant messages, Facebook, Twitter and text messages. It’s amazing just how many people learn about about a bad burrito and how quickly they learn it.
Good Isn’t Good Enough
Of course, the reverse is true in the sense that a job well done also gets more attention. However, this is more difficult to achieve and usually needs to be not only good but unique and worthy of comment.
People won’t necessarily comment on a good experience. They will, however talk about something excellent, unique or funny.
Real Time Customer Service
What is good about the public nature of social media is that it is easier to keep tabs on how how your brand is being perceived in the marketplace. A quick search on google or twitter, will give you a pretty good indication of what (if anything) people are saying about your company.
This is a great opportunity to find angry customers and turn their negative experience into a positive one. An added benefit to this is that the people who are willing to trash you online are also usually willing to praise you online.
Your Website Matters
When someone reads something, good or bad about your company, they are often going to go to your website as a point of reference. Your website helps people frame the conversation. If your business is being trashed online and your website isn’t sharp, people will give more credence to the negative commentary. However, if your website conveys something positive, people will be a little more skeptical of the negative comments.
Don’t Shout at People
A lot of people hear about social media and want to capitalize on it to help their business. They quickly sign on to Facebook, Twitter and Linkendin and start firing out messages about how great their business is. Do not do this. Remember people are at the heart of social media.
People want to socialize with people, not receive spam from companies. Just like any social situation, it is fine that people know what you do for a living, but don’t try to sell them things constantly.
Engage in Conversation
Taking an active role in social media is smart. But when taking on social media, make it an extension of your normal social activities. Invite your friends to participate, engage people you do business with and talk about things that are interesting to you.
When you do this, a natural conversation about your business should emerge without forcing it. This happen very similar to the way it would happen at a neighbors cocktail party. And the benefits of new business opportunities, knowledge and relationships will emerge just as they do from offline networking.
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