Tuesday, March 01, 2011

More Social Media for Small Business

If you read the article offering social media tips for small business in this week's Grand Rapids Business Journal (subscription required), you should know two things.

One, the lead says four local people who are social media savvy offer tips, but five people--including yours truly--are pictured. Since I appear last, I will assume I am the one of the five who is not savvy:-)

Two, GRBJ reporter Elizabeth Slowik only had room for some of what each of us said. So, even given the realities of my first point, I offer the rest of my quick thoughts in response to her query for the article.

 Listen first
The usual process of getting into social media is: listen to conversations, respond, and then initiate and host conversations. Again, the metaphor is like going to a meeting or social gathering where it’s bad form to jump into a small group without first understanding what those who were there before you were talking about.

It’s about the quality of relationships, not the number of followers.
Having a lot of followers on Twitter and “likes” on Facebook can be an impressive metric. But some research shows large percentages of people retreat from social media after an initial experience. Or they follow or like you but your messages are competing with a lot of other clutter in their feed or stream. So you have to measure “engagement,” or how often people are talking to you and your company, re-tweeting or sharing what you say, complimenting you and recommending you to their networks.

Understand the unique nature of each channel.
A common mistake for newcomers to social media happens when they figure out they can connect their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Soon they send all their tweets to Facebook and LinkedIn. Next they stop checking Facebook and LinkedIn and responding to people who engage them there. Sure, this is convenient for you. But you should cultivate different networks, and different types of conversations in each social medium. A good metaphor is that Twitter is like a party, Facebook is like a reunion, and LinkedIn is a business conference. When you have the exact same message in all three it can not only lead to "inappropriate" messages, but it is tantamount to shouting loudly and boorishly in a restaurant so you are heard not only where you are, but in every other booth in the joint. If you are a guru maybe people won’t mind that you shout through all networks. But there’s a better chance you’ll look like a narcissist.

Think “distributed PR.”
Some businesses have one person or department in charge of all social media engagement. Another option is to empower all employees to tweet and engage on behalf of the business. This makes a lot of sense because more people equates to more conversations and impressions in the social space. Also, the nature of the conversations can be better; a product engineer will have a different way of engaging, with specific information and perspective, as compared to a customer service representative. This requires a good social media policy and training for employees, as well as a solid internal organizational culture. Services like co-tweet and Facebook pages with multiple administrators enable sharing the social media conversations among employees.

1 comment:

kuan said...

Using a social networking site to make your business popular is a surefire way to get your business the attention that it deserves.

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