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November 3, 2009

How to Understand Social Media and How It Helps You Get More Customers

Many of my local business clients say that they just don’t get social media. They tell me they just don’t understand how using social media is going to get them more business.

And the answer is simple, really. More effective exposure, faster.

To really wrap your head around this, it helps to realize that behind the search rankings, dot coms and email addresses are people. Why are people online? Because they want information, they want to be entertained, and they want to connect.

We advertise in newspapers, magazines, on radio, on television because we want to reach people who want what we’re selling. The same thing goes for the web. Nowadays, that mean using social media.

The biggest deal about social media is so big, we often don’t even see it. Sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Delicious, Digg, Mixx, Twitter and all the others have one thing in common: they’ve redistributed power that used to remain in the hands of the few to the hands of the many.

When this happened, a lot of the gatekeepers between us and our potential clients and customers fell away, in a way that allows more discourse between people, without leaving sensitive private information exposed.

I can write a blog post about an aspect of what I do without revealing the secret formula that gets people to buy from me or hire me. And you can read it or provide feedback without exposing your private information. For example, if you send a Twitter link about my post, and my blog recognizes it, you can make a short comment without even telling me your email address, as you would need to do if you were to comment on my site.

And blogging and tweeting are just two types of social media you can leverage to benefit your business.

I know, for some people this is really scary.

Socializing online puts you in a weird position as a business person if you start maneuvering without quite “getting” it.

You don’t want to be the guy who thought it was okay to put his link on someone else’s Facebook profile and find it removed the next day, and have potentially powerful allies blocking you because you breached some etiquette or made a mistake.

You don’t want to end up talking business too soon, yet you also don’t want to be the person who had an opportunity to promote themselves, but saw that it was okay only after their competitor beat them to it.

I got an email today from a new friend who told me he couldn’t wrap his way around social media. Like in many new social situations, he didn’t know how to act. If like him, you think you don’t “get” social media, and how it can be used for business, I think that if you’re like most people, you’re wrong.

You already get Web 2.0 and Social Media. You just don’t realize it. The very fact that you don’t want to “be that guy” means that you’ve figured out that there’s a certain etiquette to all these new tools, and that they vary from community to community.

Remember how you figured it out offline? You found someone to help you, someone who had the results you wanted that you could copy, or you worked it out through trial and error.

Luckily, online there are people who are willing to teach you the ropes, so you can skip the trial and error. Now all you need to do is find people who are where you want to be, and do what they do.

Social media isn’t as hard as you think it is.

Don’t quite get social media and how it can get you more customers? Go to and get some free answers today.