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What should you do with social media?

Last week 4 companies contacted me about writing/setting up blogs, FaceBook, and Twitter. This topic is hot, and it’s definitely hit mainstream. Here’s my take on everything you need to know about social media.

Be cool

First off,  a few things to keep in mind.

Social media is cheap, but it demands a lot of time to do it right. Have a plan, approach it with discipline, and be sure the time you spend is worthwhile. Some of your efforts will never get you anywhere. Know who you’re trying to reach, and be sure to entertain and enlighten them or they’ll stop following you.

Twitter’s not so big with the up-and-coming generation, the Millennials.

I happen to know a bit about this, because for the past tow years I’ve been working with a client who is all about marketing to Millennials.  Early last year we co-authored a white paper on social media, which involved interviewing people in their late teens and early twenties–some of them hadn’t even heard of Twitter yet, many of them didn’t like it for some very specific reasons.

Twitter, I think, has the most potential with very close communities. The businesses that use it successfully are the ones with super-eager customers–they want to know the location of a lunchwagon, they’re eager to hear the latest news or research, the company CEO has celebrity status or the product is inherently interesting.

In other words, if your business is full of frequent news that your clients sincerely want to know about, you should Twitter. But if you’re just going to Tweet about what you had for lunch, you won’t get much business from your efforts.

Marketing your face on FaceBook

FaceBook seems to be the best keep-in-touch option for social media. The only people who see your FaceBook are the ones you choose who also choose you. The biggest challenge with FaceBook is that there’s not really a way to separate clients and prospects from friends and family. Here’s what I suggest.

First, get a fan page for your business. This will let you truly devote the page to business, but the downside is a lack of easy visibility. Unless you’re selling something cool that people like to talk about, your fan page won’t get a lot of traffic on its own. But you can fix that.

Post lots of good, interesting, valuable content and then cross promote it via Twitter, blogs, and your regular FaceBook page.

The second strategy is more “soft” but it’s a lot of fun, and ultimately more productive. Use FaceBook and all your other social media to promote yourself, and build your brand. As prospects get to know your personality, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you. As friends and family get to know your business, they’ll be better sources of referrals.

Business becomes pleasure, and pleasure becomes business

This “personal branding” is probably the best part of social media. Whatever business you’re in now, you won’t be doing it for the rest of your life.  But once you’ve build a strong network of friends, family, fellow skydivers and homeschoolers–your network goes with you.

One of the best resources on this is the book Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck.

You’re not just a salesman/consultant/CPA/coach. You’re a multidimensional person with many talents and passions, and so are all your prospective clients. Social media lets you put all of your personality into your marketing.

Use social media to make friends, build relationships, find markets and invest time in future clients–maybe the distant future. Today’s posts are like a bond that matures in 10 years (well, maybe not that long). You never know who might be listening, who might be useful.

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