For this post, I am going to talk about the overall philosophy I have about social media. This is the direction I believe social media and communication is heading and my personal goal, through this rapidly changing world, is to hang on the the spirit of the philosophy, since rules, procedures, what’s hot and what’s not changes daily. With that boring preface, I will dig right in.
Being social goes back to the start of civilization. It is man’s inherent need to communicate with each other that has driven every invention, improvement or philosophy. The caveman undoubtedly communicated with others for hunting, survival, reasoning and even boredom. This need to share ideas expanded with the printing press, telegraph, radio, telephone, TV and internet. It is easier today to get in touch with someone than ever before.
With all this in mind, I believe social media has a far greater role in our communication end dare I say it, evolution of our civilization overall. Ideas cannot be held back and the walls of what can and cannot be known are coming down just like the Berlin Wall. You cannot reverse, direct or predict where this communication sharing will go. One can only interpret, participate and hang on.
Wow! Really Will? What the heck are you talking about, I just want to keep my business alive, this has nothing to do with me. WRONG! Today, instead of selling a product or to use an outdated term, hawking your wares, you need to be talking to your current customers, every day almost. Everyday? There was an old cartoon, Andy Capp, and everyone exchanged gossip over their fences. This really is what social media is. It is just a real big fence and a lot of people leaning over in in all directions at the same time. How are you going to be heard? The answer is, you cant. Nope. Don’t even try. For even if you had the never-ending budget and the economic times were great and peace ruled the world, someone will always trump you. Look at today’s reality TV, who would have ever thought that Survivor would eventually lead to us watching Honey Boo Boo? So what can you, the everyday businessman do about it?
Listen. That is all you need to do. Not just act like you are listening, really listen and hear. It is OK not to agree. Be real. Every salesperson or representative you have working for you needs to be on your side. Trust me, they are on the internet and if you have a mad employee, you never know what they say and then you lose business. So what can you do?
Here are a few places to start.
Birthdays. This is easy, just post on your page a happy birthday for employees and patrons who participate sharing your page. A simple happy birthday will get posted on their timeline as well as yours, which is more likely to get comments and shares giving you more visibility
Employee and business milestones. Yearly employment anniversaries, new baby, wedding anniversaries years in business, all these are great to simply congratulate, recognize and get more interaction.
Sales. Of course you want to do your sales, but also make special discounts and prices for those who are willing to share, re-post comment and print out coupons. A Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter special will drive participation and talk, even if your customer does not need your service or product right now, they will tell their friends of your great deal.
Give a bonus to your employees who share. You have to pay for Facebook to promote, why not spend that money right with your employees Most will jump at the chance. At 50 cents per click, why not give 50 cents or a dollar per day to your employees to share on their wall? Whatever you post daily, whether it is a sale item or milestone, they can share on their wall. Easy and will only cost you $2.50-$5.00 per day per employee. Give the deal to anyone bold enough to ask for it, you will get more PR that way than a bunch of rules and exceptions.
Referrals. The same way you get employees to participate, get your customers involved. Give incentives to a customer to refer friends and/or share on their social sites. You can tell them on a certain day you have a special, then if they bring a friend for the special, they get an additional discount. One insurance customer using this philosophy wrote an additional $10,000 worth of business simply by giving 50% off their next months insurance premium for a worthy referral. This cost is worth it in the long run because a referral is worth 2 new connections. The referred automatically have a higher respect for your business and will be more likely to refer another versus a walk in stranger that you close.
These are just a few ideas, sticking to the philosophy and the spirit of communication is key. Getting people to participate will grow your business quicker and you will see more results than just blasting out and trying to be heard over all that are clamoring for attention on the net. After all, don’t you personally want to be heard? Put yourself in the buyers position and ask, would I listen to this? Would I share this? Would I recommend this? You will find that people on the net will listen, if you listen to them first.