I’m still not sold that I need to be active on the internet. Personally, I could take it or leave it. I’m ready to give up on it, but my employees are pushing me to keep it up. I could be willing to give it more time, but is it worth it?
Thoughts of the Day: Remember the days when you used to go to face-to-face networking events? How often have you wondered what your customers have to say about your company? When’s the last time you used your cell phone to look for information?
Believe it or not, all of these questions relate to your presence in the world of social media. Our world is constantly changing, every minute of every day, and social media is the new way to communicate at that pace. Regardless of the fast pace, it is important that you be both patient and diligent, and think of social media as the new way of building relationships. Some connections happen more quickly than others. Some will lose interest and drop away, and others will join the circle. The ones who stay are the ones that matter.
Before social media, we used up a lot of energy running from one networking event to another to meet prospects and vendors, and remain relevant in the business community. Fast forward to today. Now, much of that energy is spent garnering virtual connections, with less driving. But it’s hard to juggle the anonymous aspect of social media with people’s need to see real people.
People like dealing with people. There’s just not as much time to do the running around, so do it virtually. Make it easy to connect by being present where people discuss topics related to what your company does. Keep the conversation formal, but professional. No rants, no tirades, no foul language. Be a role model and a leader and watch to see if people follow.
Before the internet became popular, when we had a need, we used to call a friend or trusted advisor to ask for advice on who to speak with. Today through the internet we can tap into a million advisors for information on any topic. The question is who to trust.
How do you figure out who is qualified to provide an expert referral? Or to provide advice on a particular topic? Social media. We look for people who are talking about a specific subject in which we are interested. We look to see how many others are referencing that source. Does the advice make sense, even if it’s something we might not agree with right off the bat?
This is where blogging can lend a helping hand. Blogging is an opportunity to show your expertise, gather input from others, and continue to expand the dialog. Invite other experts to contribute. People can weigh in with their thoughts and the blogger who is paying attention gets to defend or expand upon the topic. When someone else is looking for information on the same topic, they may find the blogger, read the posts, and reach the conclusion this is a person worth following.
Take advantage of opportunities to contribute to current events and use it as an opportunity to build your reputation as a leader. Look for topics that relate to your business. Take time to read and then post a comment. Invite others to expand on what you’ve said. If you’ve picked the right topic, you’ll find you have a dialog going. And if you picked a topic no one is interested in, you’ll get feedback on that, too.
Ask your customers to refer your company using social media tools. They can write about their experience on your company’s Facebook page. They can send out tweets when they’re engaging with your company. You can take a video of customers using your products or services, then post it on any number of sites (make sure you get their permission).
Afraid that someone might post a negative comment? Better to know what’s being said than to have it said behind your back. Invite comments, and if someone has a beef, deal with it quickly and professionally. You wouldn’t leave an irate customer fuming in the real world, don’t do so in the virtual world, either. Apologize, but don’t get defensive. Let people know you take the comments seriously. Invite the offended person to correspond further by email in order to get the discussion to a less public forum. Remember that relationships are often built on solving breakdowns.
Even the most reluctant cell phone users are getting into the act of using their phones to search for information. One recent ad we posted had over 50% of viewers using a mobile device to look at our website. Make sure your company’s content is available in a format that reads well on a cell phone.
Looking for a good book? The Giveaway Formula: How to Use the Power of Internet Giveaway Offers to Build Your Email List, by Chris Lockwood.