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Social Media for Dummies

August 8th, 2009 by | 27 Comments

Photo By Glenn Campell

Image By Glenn Campell

 

Okay so if you don’t know much about social media you aren’t really a dummy, it’s just a gimmicky title that gets the point across. I personally always appreciate a refresher on the basics so consider this Social Media 101.

Why Should I Bother?
Social networking is a contagious, unavoidable phenomenon that doesn’t stop at socialization. More and more organizations are leveraging these sites to effectively market themselves. This isn’t news to you because clearly you don’t operate your business from a cave (unless your business is spelunking, then of course there would be nothing wrong with that). Whether you find social networking to be daunting or consider it to be a key component to your marketing plan—we can assist you in getting the most out of your efforts.

Utilizing social networking sites is more than just creating a profile for your business and hoping someone sees it. It’s about giving consumers and potential clients the chance to see the human side to your organization. You’re no longer a big corporation being led by a team of robots; you’re a friend on their friend’s list. Like most things in life, you will get out what you put in.

The flexibility that comes with social media is invaluable. Website changes can be costly depending on what’s necessary, but a social networking profile can be altered in seconds. You can feature links to your website, videos, pictures, updates and more.

 

Some Sites to Get You Started

LinkedIn- Professionals Socializing
LinkedIn is an excellent place to start if you’re just starting out using social media for your business. These are business professionals who are expecting to make professional connections, so you need not feel like a fish out of water. Asking for and receiving recommendations from clients and colleagues can up your credibility and open doors.

Facebook- The New Myspace
Currently Facebook has Fan Pages for businesses, which can be a little tricky at first. You aren’t able to recruit fans from your fan page, but if you already have a substantial network, and are friends with others who do as well, you’ll be able to gather an immediate following. Facebook also allows your business to create ads to drive your business.

Twitter- Little Messages with a Big Response
140 characters may not seem like enough space to get your message across but you can use these “mini-blogs” to drive traffic elsewhere via a link. Do some links seem infinitely long? Tinyurl.com can take your exhaustingly long URL and make it small enough to fit comfortably in your tweet.

 

Key Points to Remember:

Your Profile:
Your profile on any social networking forum should be engaging, current and personal. Not only will the constant updating of your profile keep people interested, but on sites like Facebook it will keep you on the top of other people’s minds. Making your profile personal and engaging will put a human face to your organization that others will feel more comfortable with.

Be Relevant:
You can’t engage potential customers and clients if you don’t create content relevant to them. Post content that pertains to your market and use language they can relate to. Answer questions, post helpful articles and tips, and keep your network informed on upcoming events.

Build your Network:
On most social media sites, you can add others to your network and in turn you’re added to theirs. On Twitter it isn’t automatic that they’re following you just because you’re following them, however they will usually return the favor. When looking to add new contacts search for other people and businesses that have something to offer you and your organization.

Groups:
Groups are an excellent way to build your network because you can find people that are interested in the same topical content you are. They also are helpful in gathering information and staying up to date in your industry. Join a group relevant to your organization or better yet– start your own.

Etiquette:
Consumers will do everything possible to avoid feeling like they’re being advertised to. The invention of DVRs alone contributes to this point. That’s why it’s crucial when utilizing social media to keep this in mind and respect the consumer. Sending out mass messages is a major no-no. Not only is it impersonal, but it can be rather annoying to receive what feels like spam on a regular basis. Instead, updating your status or profile will do the trick, especially on Facebook where your friends will actively see these changes or Twitter where you’re being followed.

Link, Link, Link!
Consider your social media profiles as traffic conductors to your company website. Posting links to interesting content, landing pages, samples of your work, videos, photos, and surveys will keep your network engaged and will encourage them to become more familiar with your organization or brand.

 

Piece of Cake!
I myself, regularly check up on other sources of information, and suggest you do the same. There are some really great resources out there and plenty of writers, bloggers and experts willing to share their knowledge. This piece on Social Media from Ben Parr an associate editor at Mashable.com (you’ll be hearing about him a lot from me, he’s a plethora of useful information and quite possibly the reason I know anything on this subject at all—okay well not entirely), is especially eloquent.

After awhile using social media will become second nature in running your business, but it’s important never to forget the personalization that creates lasting partnerships. If you’re successful in making contacts online it’s vital to follow up on a more personal level such as over the phone, a handwritten note or face-to-face meetings whenever possible.


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