I must confess: I tend to attract clients who hate social media. Maybe “hate” is too strong. Let’s just say that, for the most part, many passionate creatives are so busy actually running their businesses that they have neither the time nor will to spend their day liking posts on Facebook or +1-ing articles on Google+. I get it. When you are knee deep in the day to day work of developing a successful small business, putting your passion into 140 character tweets just doesn’t feel like a priority.
So, in honor of Social Media Week here in Berlin, here is a little overview of why this whole thing matters.
Social Media is part of a bigger picture.
For many of us, social media has been this thing that we have just learned to deal with. It sort of happened to us somewhere along the way. We spend time on Facebook looking at pictures of cats or people’s babies but we really don’t understand why the heck it matters for small business. Most of my clients resist things they don’t know- it’s just human nature. And since the virtual world feels so unnatural, it’s easy to miss the point.
But it’s important to understand where social media fits into the larger internet marketing picture. It exists as part of a bigger thing called SEO.
What is SEO?
This is a huge topic. Some people use Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and internet marketing synonymously. There are a bunch of ins and outs here, but the whole point is quite simple. The point of SEO is getting what you have to offer to those people who need it by making it clear to the search engines that you are the best person for the job. And just like getting a regular job, there are a thousand factors involved – your resume, the interview, your references and experience etc. Really high quality content is just one of those important factors.
Anything you read these days, especially after all Google’s updates, makes it clear that content is king. Social media is a great way to get your message out to the world which will increase your chance of being found online.
What’s the point of Social Media?
People like feedback. It’s really that simple. If you walk up to someone at a party and say, “Hey, nice shirt”, and they stare blankly or simply walk away without responding, it sucks. At the end of the day, we all want to be liked and we all have stuff on our minds. Social media gives people the opportunity to share that and to get feedback from people who might feel the same way or perhaps differently. Either way, it’s a dialog.
So here comes the tricky part. As small businesses, people sometimes get the impression that social media is for advertising. It’s not. In fact, if that’s how you use it, you will more than likely alienate your target market. No one wants to be sold something while they are looking at pictures of cats and babies. There is a lot to think about from a marketing perspective. But if you go into your social media strategy with the following 3 goals, the social media gods are very likely to reward you.
1. Inform– show people you know what you are talking about. You are in business for some reason, right? Think about the things that you explain to the clients you already have, their frequently asked questions, new things you are developing and why it’s unusual or exciting. (A conversation I had yesterday with a client is the reason I am writing this blog.) If you focus on educating your current customers and or potential clients, they will learn to trust you which will affect your repeat business and referrals.
2. Inspire– you have a unique selling proposition (USP). Whether you are a freelancer or you are a big company, there are things that make you special. Dig into that. Say those things and don’t worry about being like everyone else. Your voice as a person or brand is interesting. Share it.
3. Interact– people like feedback! I really can’t stress this enough. Have a conversation with your social contacts, don’t just post something and move on. Your time on social media should be spent in a 30/30/40 state of mind. 30% posting your own stuff, 30% finding new stuff and contacts and circulating it and 40% giving personal/professional feedback to your network. If you answer peoples questions and forward other people’s causes, they are pretty likely to return the favor and spread the love. (Go ahead and comment on this post to see this in action, I dare you!)
There are so many other parts to this topic and to this overall conversation; really, I am just getting started. But the point of this is to warm up those who are still skeptical of social avenues. It’s important to remember as a small business or even as an individual that social media is in no way meant to be a substitute for real relationships. But it can and does enhance your ability to communicate with the ones you need to be talking to. This is what makes a good social content strategy so important. By being clear about who you are, what you want to say and who you want to say it to, you can avoid wasting endless hours online. This will allow you to harness the power of social networks for the good yourself and the people who need what you do.
Love it or hate it- how do you feel about social media?