Look who’s talking, Blogging, Twittering, YouTubing and Facebooking!
People are talking about you. Don’t you hear them? They’re talking about the way you do business. They’re talking about your brand and their experiences with it. And here’s the thing— you can’t stop them. Right now, there are hundreds of new Social Media tools that foster these conversations that are taking place among the billions of people with Internet access. And some of them want to talk about you.
You have absolutely no control over the conversations, but if you choose to join in and exercise the right strategy, you can turn these Social Media exchanges to your advantage. By participating with a clear understanding of what’s going on in these meeting places, you can have considerable influence, and influence is the foundation of any successful commercial relationship.
So what is Social Media?
Social Media refers to activities, practices and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge, and opinions using conversational media. By that, we mean web-based applications that make it possible to create and deliver content in the form of text, pictures, audio and video.
If you’ve ever used your computer or cell phone to read a blog (like you’re doing right now), watch a YouTube video, listen to a podcast, or send a text you are already using Social Media.
What’s the Idea?
To be influential, you must engage your audience (customers, prospects or employees) in ways that facilitate at least—one if not all—of the four basic Social Media activities.
1. Communication – Communication allows you to tell your audience what’s on your mind, offer opinions, and collect their thoughts in return.
2. Collaboration – Collaboration allows you to gather and share knowledge and best practices, or solve problems through your trusted network.
3. Education – Using blogs, podcasts, Wikis or YouTube videos is a highly efficient way to educate your prospects or train your employees.
4. Entertainment – Today, the most effective commercials are those, that entertain. Savvy consumers will trade their attention—and the opportunity to be influenced—for some form of amusement.
A Fly in the Ointment.
Social Media is a problem for many businesses. It is new, uncharted territory, and will remain so until it becomes ubiquitous, like microwaves, ipods and cell phones. The fact that so many businesses find it hard to understand what social media is and how it works is a great opportunity for early adopters. Many people tend to avoid what they don’t understand. This is not the time to make that mistake. Social Media has already redefined the way people live and do business. If you have teenagers in the house ask them how they keep in touch, how they get their information and their entertainment. (They may ignore you, but that’s not the point.) You can bet it’s not from NBC, CBS or the Yellow Pages. It’s probably more like texting, Facebook, Twitter & Hulu. This is Social Media. This is what is going on now and it’s not going away.
Make it your goal to understand Social Media in the context of your current business; to experiment, and learn how to harness it’s growing power. If you make it a priority, all this talk can translate into a dramatic increase in the success of your business.
Will this guarantee your success with Social Media? Of course not, but here’s your alternative: Take a wait and see approach. Do nothing. Perhaps you’ll find out it’s just a fad … kind of like the Internet.