What is Social Media?
Social media refers to the way the Internet has become more social. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have allowed people to share there lives. This includes talking about how their day at work was, their child's birthday party, their latest shopping trip. In so doing they are sharing their interactions with businesses. This is why you should consider social media for your business. I have heard it referred to as "electronic word of mouth" or "word of mouth on steroids".
Lets start at the beginning. If you are considering a Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter account, or posting videos on Youtube, photos on Flickr, a blog on Posterous, as a business you need to start with an effective website. What a website does is create a home base that you control. On any of these social sites you can link back to your website and potential clients can be introduced to your business. This website needs to fit in with your online strategy and be regularly updated, either by you or retain your web designer regularly to ensure it is current and beneficial.
Online strategy is very important, you should not treat websites and social media as advertising or some unaccountable hole to throw your money in, hoping for success. Any good web designer can work out some metrics with you to determine a suitable ROI. Imagine if you were opening a new physical branch in another state, what steps would you take before embarking on this endeavour? Similarly with the web, get educated about the region you are entering, your target clients, and your expected results. Get a good web designer onside as a consultant.
Once you have your website, you can then consider what social media is suitable for you and your clients. At Waterfall Way Designs, we have been on Twitter since June 2009 and found it very beneficial. It connects us with the Armidale community, we have over 60 people from Armidale we converse with. It promotes our services, we share our latest projects with (currently) over 240 people. We open our business up to unexplored sales regions, we recently did repeat work for a client in Melbourne, that without Twitter we would never have met. We have considered and planned for other social media engagements but have not pursued them yet as they have to be done with diligence and thoughtfulness.
So you might determine that Facebook is a good channel for you. Working with your web designer you create a Facebook page and work within your strategic guidelines as you share with the community. Based on what your objective is, you then tweak your Facebook presence and website to get the results you want. It is all a matter of being attentive to your clients. You might be providing online support for them, answering their questions. You might be building your brand, demonstrating your commitment to your physical community or industry. You might be answering disgruntled clients, who would otherwise have had an unanswered platform to complain about you. You might be actively seeking leads, promoting your services. This comes back to your strategy, but with the open-mindedness to pursue other potentialities that come up. This is the web, where you can move quickly and inexpensively compared to that physical branch interstate.
The Internet is not going away, and recently we have seen it evolve from static information to a place where your clients and potential clients actively converse. Be part of the conversation. Talk to us today about improving your web presence.