Almost everywhere you go these days people are talking about it. Everyone (except you) seems to be doing it. At networking meetings every businessperson or charity fundraiser seems to be benefiting from it.
So what is it? Social Media. It’s the biggest talking in business circles since Google (that’ll help our SEO performance). But in all seriousness, most people really do not understand it! They feel they should be doing something for their business or charity but they really don’t know where to start.
They probably suspect that everyone else is doing it and so they are the only one’s missing out. The final anxiety is that they are being made to understand that in some way (they haven’t yet grasped) Social Media is a ‘golden bullet’ to success miraculously leading to extra sales, extra clients, extra fundraisers extra whatever they request from this genie in a computer.
In this article I will try and give you a no frills, no hype, honest assessment and summary of where I think we are in the Social Media cycle - and critically, what you can and should be doing about it!
What actually is Social Media?
In my opinion the definition of Social Media is (there are many definitions) any digital platform or vehicle that allows people, businesses and organisations to communicate and interact with each other. This could include everything, and anything, from mobile phones, video, websites, blogs - to vehicles like Face book, Twitter, and Linked-In. There are simply thousands to choose from!
Tip number 1.... less is more! Choose one or maybe two SM platforms/vehicles and really get to know/understand them properly. The worst you can do is to choose a wide range and never use them - or use them incorrectly. Choosing, and properly setting up the most beneficial platform(s) for you your business or organisation is critical to success. This is the point at which experienced advice is most needed. For instance, if you want to interact with the business community because you offer a B2B service, the networking colossus ‘Linked-In’ is the place to start. There is no more powerful online tool if used in the right way. Also, there are options to upgrade from the basic service - which for some can be incredibly beneficial.
Tip number 2.... If you want to interact with professionals in the business community, take the plunge and register on Linked-In. JUST DO IT as my T Shirt says! My only word of caution is that when going through the (easy) setting up process; think very carefully about what you are including in your profile, and how you are including it. Why do I say that? Well Linked-In is searchable and all of the information on your profile acts as ‘keywords’ just like key words on Google – so make sure you include search words that you think people will use to find a business like yours.
If your target audience is more aimed at individuals, or say you wish to engage with the younger generation, then Twitter, Facebook are obvious choices.
Tip number 3.... Having said this- please be VERY careful that you do not mix business with pleasure, unless you are comfortable doing so. Something that I frequently see is people accepting business associates, contacts and even clients as friends onto their personal Facebook or Twitter accounts etc. The danger is that, yes, everyone has a personal life and should be proud of it, but once people have access to your social networking address you cannot control what they may see or read about you from other people’s posts etc. So if you don’t want your best clients seeing photographs of you dancing half naked on the top of a pub table, think twice before accepting everyone as a friend. On the positive side of the equation, Facebook is a very powerful tool for organisations such as charities, football clubs etc. In fact Social Media is one of the most powerful set of tools THE Non-for-Profit sector can use to raise substantial funds and engage with much wider audiences. In fact D2 Interactive (with whom Vizzit have a strategic alliance) are currently working with 4 charities on their Social Media Strategies which will almost certainly result in significant additional income streams by way of additional donations. The way this is achieved is by providing the charities with the tools to integrate with their websites to make donating easier and for running virtual events. In fact one reasonably small charity in Australia generated in excess of 400K Aus $ from a virtual climb up Everest!
Tip number 4... If you are part of a charity that needs to raise additional funds, please talk to us and we can show you how it works.
Tip number 5... Quality communication is King! As in normal life, rules on how to behave apply. In fact they are probably more important because you are being exposed to a much wider audience. One of the key rules is -DO NOT try and sell your services (or at least not overtly) because this will be severely frowned upon your new community may well shut you out. The most effective way to operate is to be friendly, interesting, and relevant - and critically if you are an expert in a specific field provide advice and guidance at every opportunity. This will create a good reputation for you and your company and position you as a subject matter expert. If you are a subject matter expert in your field find a form where people are asking questions and see if you can help them by providing FREE advice and guidance. Not only will they be delighted (and may become a client) but the other forum users will also see what you are doing and may also contact you! It’s primarily a matter of being trusted by your new friends.
I hope you have found this to be of use and that the article has given you some of the basics to getting started or to improve upon what you are already doing. I also hope that you realise you are not alone if you feel confused about what to do and struggling with where to start. This is normal.
The reality is that Social Media is the future and it is something that, like it or not, we are all going to need to embrace if we are in business or involved in the Not-for-Profit sector.
For now, thank you for your attention and talk to you next time.
Vizzit Media Ltd