Is Social Media for you and your business? It is 2009 and at some point you will need to address the pros and cons of social media marketing if you wish to continue to position yourself and your business in the forefront of your market.
Social media can be all sorts of different things, and it is produced in all sorts of different ways.
However, the best way I can define social media is…”sites that are designed to connect people with other people using conversations created by the users.”
For the most part, these are relationship building sites. The most popular are MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Another common form of social media is blogging. You are reading a blog right now. Even though online you create the majority of content, followers of your blog can comment and share their views on your posts. (by the way, please register as a follower and comment on my blog)
Generally speaking, social media sites offer free registration and adequate design flexibility for absolutely no-cost. Of course, if you wish to customize these sites, options are available for a fee. However, I see no reason to do that.
So how do these sites generate business for you and create additional sales?
Business is built through fostering and developing relationships. The more relationships you have, the more opportunity you have to generate leads, prospects, and sales.
You may also use these sites to enrich the experience you provide for your customers. You can post business updates, product information, idea development for new services and general news about you and your company.
Most of these sites have ways to acquire additional friends and prospects by recommendation. This is a key way to expand your network of friends, associates and peers, and potential customers.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to social media marketing is that your prospects and customers get to know YOU better. These sites “humanize” you. They tend to illustrate you as a real person, with a real life, wearing real clothes, hanging out with real friends and family, going to real places, doing real things.
Not everyone likes to disclose their non-business personality. However, my personal belief is customers want to see you in your natural elements of life so they can relate to you. It helps them feel better about doing business with you. There is another level of trust developed.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to post pictures of yourself hanging out at the biker bar over the weekend as you were bent over a bar stool with blood shot eyes.
You can be highly professional and personable at the same time. You may also choose to develop a personal site and a business site.
Once you are registered on social media sites, then you have to let the world know. Add these sites to your email signatures, to your business card, on your pamphlets and of course you have to work the sites themselves.
Some generalities about the four sites I mentioned above. MySpace tends to be a more elaborate site with lots of design options and plenty of cyber-ground to cover. Its users are generally younger and the original intent was for musical groups and bands to promote their work.
You want to see my kids and what I look like on a cruise ship…check out my MySpace page and become a friend in my network.
Facebook tends to draw a slightly more educated and mature crowd, mostly a result of the fact that it started at Harvard and within a month of its inception all of the grad students at Harvard where members. It then spread to campuses all across the country. Facebook is much easier to use and its simplicity makes it a more time efficient endeavor.
You wanna see pics of mytrip to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, check out my Facebook page and become a friend in my network.
LinkedIn is a more professional networking site with the capability to ask for referrals, testimonials, and general business assistance.
Please join my LinkedIn group as well.
And finally, there is Twitter. Pay real close attention to this one folks. They are growing faster than Facebook and MySpace ever dreamed. The concept is called microblogging…short simple messages to stay in contact with people called Tweets.
Join me on Twitter and we can start tweeting. www.twitter.com/paulmontelongo
We are in an era that requires more relationship building than ever. You have got to be in touch with your prospects and clients with even more regularity. It’s the way of the world now.
Until our paths cross again (likely on a social site), take great care of yourself and your loved ones.