June 18, 2008
Let me start by saying I am a fan of social media, I personally choose to participate in social media. However when you read about social media, you often only hear one side of things – the message is clear – Participate or miss out! And while I do believe that is true, I think it’s not always that simple.
There is so much to read, so many different opinions. It can be overwhelming. First you have to decide which sites to participate in and then you have to create your account and learn how to participate. It’s often confusing.
I am not saying this is an excuse not to participate. In fact I am writing this article to provide some helpful tips so you can participate. .
I think attention to the details is really important, so I want to cover all the small items that people aren’t really talking much about.
Facebook: I started on Facebook as a way to connect with old friends. I had all kinds of games and the crazy apps (applications) that Facebook offers. When I started networking for business I realized that all my business connections were going to have access to all of this personal information – photos, wall posts, they’d know which Sex and the City character I was most like (if you’ve spent any time on Facebook you’ve likely seen this app on people’s profile).
I understand that using social media to open up and connect with people is one of the benefits. Allowing prospective clients to get to know you helps build trust and relationships.
But do I really want people to see every little silly app I mess around with? Do I want them to see the crazy pics from high school that have been posted?
Ultimately I decided to clean off some of the silliness that wasn’t really important to me and I left the rest. I figured if I’m opening the door and letting people peek in, there is no point in censoring anything. So I jumped in and started adding “Friends” that were business connections.
Of course if you are only using Facebook for business, then you don’t have to think about these issues. If you do plan to use it for both – just spend a few minutes thinking about what you do and don’t want to share.
Twitter: Make sure you think about what name is best for you. I chose EcomBuffet (my company name) but have now realized that people are searching for me by my full name and not finding me. I would have been better off choosing my name. Not a major issue, but something to consider if you haven’t picked your name on Twitter yet.
There are varying opinions about how often you can Twitter (or tweet) and not annoy people. Some people say once per hour, others say once a day. There is no hard rule about this. You do want to consider it carefully though. If you tweet too often, people may get annoyed and stop following you all together, or just remove their cell phone updates. That means when you have important updates, people aren’t going to get them at all or as quickly as they could have. You want to find a balance. For me, I have been tweeting about once a day. On some days when I have more to share, I may tweet a few times day. Every time you tweet, ask yourself if it is really information people will want to know. If you are sure every tweet is useful and serves a purpose then you can tweet a little more often. If it’s fluff and all self-promotional, then you should probably do it less (or not all some may say).
Social bookmarking buttons: There are so many buttons you can add to your articles for people to bookmark or vote for your content. Digg, StumbleUpon, RSS Feeds, TwitThis etc – My concern is that we are adding so many different options and people become so accustomed to seeing them that they ignore them. And with so many buttons people may get confused and just ignore them. I don’t know what the solution is for this yet. I previously wasn’t using any of these buttons. I realize I am missing out because of that, so I am now going to selectively use them. I don’t have a perfect plan in mind, I am just going to play with using some of the more popular ones and see what happens.
MySpace versus Facebook: There is a lot of confusion about the MySpace versus Facebook issue. The general consensus is that MySpace has been trashed and isn’t worth the time. That isn’t entirely true. There are still people making money off MySpace. The key to remember is that MySpace is a younger crowd with a lower income and Facebook has a higher income and is older. The best thing you can do is study both – see what others in your industry are doing, see how you see yourself fitting in and most importantly, come up with a plan. So many people just jump in and set up a profile and then don’t know what to do next. Just being there doesn’t mean the money is going to pour in. You need to engage people, you need to come up with something that people will want to see, hear or read.
Is it too late to join now? The answer is no! Studies show that most of the social media sites are growing in popularity and traffic and participation is increasing month over month. Just remember, the rules change as these sites evolve, so be sure you are current on what is and isn’t acceptable participation.
Check it out; see how you think you can fit into the space. But remember its not all about how you will benefit. If you don’t have something to offer (information, resources, insights, news etc) then people aren’t going to be interested.
How does all of this really help me make money? Consumers are much more educated and demand much more than they used to. We are all hit with so many sales messages daily; we start to tune them out. What used to work doesn’t work (or at least not as well). In order for your business to succeed and grow, you need to adapt.
People are looking for more information and companies they can trust. Selling has become more about creating trust and building relationships.
Social media helps you connect and establish trust. Any one social media activity may not lead directly to a sale in any given moment, but it helps you establish a presence online; and in your prospects mind. If you get yourself out there and share information, you will increase your following and have a base of people that trust you that you can market to.
That covers it for now. Keep the questions coming in!
Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com. Over the past 10 years Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more. http://twitter.com/EcomBuffet