Are social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn being overhyped? Are all the social media pundits sending today’s business down a dark and dangerous alley?
If you are a large or medium enterprise you typically have the resource to devote to finding out the relevance of a social media focus on your overall marketing strategy. The million dollar questions for the small business are: ‘Is it really worth my time?’ ‘Can I afford to be doing this now?’
If as a small business you are trying to use social media to get the word out to your customers and prospects about how great your product/service is then you are frankly wasting your time walking down a blind alley. If, however, you are using social media to listen to your customer and learn what his/her problem or pain is and what value your business can bring to the table then you are on the right path.
Social media today is for listening. It is not a mike or a megaphone to be used to drown the customer out. To really understand your market and get to know what pain your favourite customers are suffering and what their concerns are, you need to be actively engaged in conversations with them, whether via social media or through your website.
Maximizing your web presence is key to building your small business. Any small business that is not maximizing its social media presence is missing a golden opportunity. In an era where websites are more interactive, engaging, and interesting than before, social media platforms now allow your customers to engage with you, your business, and your site by:
• Posting comments on your blog, or articles, or chatting in a forum.
• Re-tweeting your content or sharing it on Facebook,
• Watching a video, listening to a podcast, or participating in a webinar.
• Taking a quiz or responding to a poll.
The essence of social media marketing is that it is collaborative and interactive. By utilizing a platform that engages and interacts with people, you give customers more of a chance to create a connection with your business.
There are many reasons to have a great social media presence, but here are three main ones:
1. Credibility: These days, people judge you by your website. Don’t you do the same? Don’t you often check out a company’s site before deciding to use them? A great website levels the playing field; you can look every bit as big and professional as your biggest competitor. Your website is your sign to the world. It says a lot about your business. Play big.
2. Marketing and branding: Your social media page is an incredible opportunity to market your business and brand it accordingly. Sure, simple pages are fine – but who wants to be just fine? By creating a more robust, interactive page you are creating a bigger and better image for your business.
3. Additional profit centre: Ideally, your social media profile should seek more than just presence; it should be another way to create business. Either it is so good and impressive that it almost forces people to seek you out, or it actually provides direct access to your goods and services. It is what we call word of mouth advertising done well.
A Conversation has two sides to it – talking and listening. The latter is what allows us to gain information. The difference between hearing and listening should not be confused. Listening is a skill while hearing is a physical ability. Listening skills allow us to make sense of and understand what our customer is saying. In other words, listening skills allow us to understand what the customer is ‘talking about’.