It seems so contrary, that we would be “practical and tactical” about something identified as “social.” Yet as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like grow deeper roots in our everyday communications, it’s essential for business people to (1) embrace social media and (2) learn to use it effectively.
Let’s peel that last thought apart.
(1) Embrace social media: Business owners should not create a Twitter account or start a Facebook fan page in a reactionary blur. Instead, they should gain understanding of social media and be able to place it in context of overall business communications, acknowledging it as a relationship building tool and starting social media efforts on solid footing.
(2) Use social media effectively: For social media to be effective, it must be treated as a long term commitment worthy of regular attention and nurturing. Also, it must be integrated into a total communications program, so that all messages and branding are consistent. Those business owners who hurriedly open accounts and create pages in a blur are highly likely to use them ineffectively and ultimately abandon them. That’s no good for anybody!
A great study by Weber Shandwick published last November revealed that Fortune 100 companies are commonly missing the opportunities that Twitter could provide if used properly. Of the accounts they examined, 76% had tweeted less than 500 times, while 50% had fewer than 500 followers. Those number indicate lack of engagement and underuse.
From the results of the Weber Shandwick study, it seems many big time businesses jumped in the deep end of the social media pool yet aren’t even doggy paddling. If the Fortune 100 companies—presumably working with ample resources—are challenged to effectively use social media tools, imagine how small businesses working on the lean may amble or stumble in trying to use Twitter or other social media networks effectively.
In other words, if you haven’t started to tweet on Twitter or collect fans with a Facebook fan page, that’s okay. If you’ve waited to see if all this social stuff is for real (and surely by now, you’ve seen that it is!), there’s no need to rush now. Round out your understanding, get a strategy in place and then join the conversation with purpose and personality.
To help you get ahead of the curve as you round out your knowledge, here are some interesting stats about why people follow companies within social networks as published by emarketer.com.
These findings show that average social networkers really want to know about specials, sales and deals, as well as new products and services. These bits of knowledge will prove very helpful as you ponder ways to make practical and tactical use of social media for business purposes.
In my next few blog entries, I’ll aim to help you do just that. I’ll give you some “Social Media 101” advice to get your ducks in row before you go-go-go. I’ll break out specific ideas and tips for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, showing you how each network interlinks to make a full program to take your small biz big time.
Until next time…