It’s always insightful to speak to a new group of people at an industry event. I’ve found that It’s sometimes easy to get entrenched within my own four walls and lose touch with the information that people really need to help their businesses succeed. During the Q&A session someone asked the question that was on everyones minds:
“Can you provide a simple guide to help business owners in Spokane understand how to use social media? You know,… no industry jargon, no tech-speak, just simple how-to-get-started information that business owners can quickly digest and implement?”
When I said YES the entire rooms gave a collective “sigh.” So, without further ado, here it is:
7 Steps to Getting Started, Finding your Voice, and Generating Business with Social Media.
1) Find your flavor(s) and get started.
Without re-capping everything from today’s presentations, I’d like to sum it up by merely saying use what works best for you. In my case it’s primarily Twitter & Linkedin. But, I have also found great value in Biznik and LaunchPad. In fact, I’m about to dive into the deep end of the LaunchPad pool. As a Spokane Social Networking Site, it’s a no-brainer to join LaunchPad. Your choice just depends on your personal taste and industry. For example, musicians, actors, and celebrities still have great success using MySpace, but it personally annoys me beyond belief. I use Facebook to communicate with family & friends and try to keep business out of it, but know several people using Facebook with a good amount of business success. Again, it’s all about finding the right platform(s) for your own personal taste.
2) Pimp your profile
Create a unique and customized profile. Fill out relevant details and provide supportive links. Much has been written on this topic. Here are few guides: How to Pimp Your Twitter Profile, Linkedin Profile Tips, Facebook Profile Guide.
3) Set a consistent and realistic posting schedule
A lot of people get really excited about the latest/greatest social networking site and post like crazy for a month or so and then quit. Others find it intimidating and never get started in the first place. I’d recommend finding sites that you’re comfortable with and genuinly believe you’ll use. Then set a posting schedule. Just make sure it’s a realistic one based on your workload and desire to contribute content. Here are a few great reads: Lessons Learned from 3 Years of Blogging, Scheduling Social Media Efforts.
4) Take it off-line
I’ve found this to be the most effective. It’s much like dating on Match.com… You haven’t really had your first date until you’ve met in person. Sure, there are many benefits from being on Twitter and other social media sites without meeting someone in person (exposure, increased relevant connections, etc.). I’ve just found that the in-person meetings are what have created (by far) the most work and overall impact to my business. These are connections that started online but developed into friendships and professional ties in my industry. The Real Power of Twitter does a great job of summarizing these benefits.
5) Contribute and Connect
If you contribute great content in a consistent manner over time you will generate a following. It really is that simple. There are a handful of people that post content that I absolutely look forward to reading. Be one of those people.
6) Understand Analytics
Don’t feel bad if your social media web sites aren’t producing great results online. They tend to not perform as well in the ROI category compared to direct traffic and search. The best post I’ve seen regarding social media and ROI is from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. It goes into great detail regarding how social media ROI compares with other avenues. I recommend reading the entire article as well as the numerous comments. Install an analytics platform (like Google Analytics), watch the Google Analytic Training Videos, and if you really get into it, read Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor. It’s amazing!
7) How to use social media to make money and/or increase business
I think social media is very similar to Public Relations in that both have a pretty difficult time claiming a direct correlation between their efforts and revenue. However, from a business reach and exposure standpoint, the impact is HUGE! When performed effectively, it puts your business in front of the right audience of potential clients, develops trust, and helps foster relationships. And when it comes right down to it, people still buy from people. Though we have all this new technology and ways to connect online, it still comes down to relationships, trust, and offering a great product or service.
I hope this has been a helpful guide/follow-up to today’s Social Media Panel. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to provide additional details. A big thanks to Visit Spokane for inviting me to be part of the panel. Definitely follow them on Twitter @visitspokane to see an example of a great social media effort.