Recall, if you will, a post I made on Feb. 19. In the post, I discussed how social media and networking sites are slowly starting to take over our lives—Our society is gradually growing on the Internet.
I conducted an informal survey at the time, asking a handful of people their opinions on social media. If you’ll recall, one of the two key points that the survey brought to the forefront was the idea that businesses should use social networking to promote themselves.
The question now raised is NOT whether professionalism and social networking CAN work concurrently, BUT rather HOW should a business really promote itself well in the world of social media?
Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional social media strategist or guru—do not take everything that I say with the notion it will bring you or your business instant success. I am a student, a researcher and a learner about everything that I can get my hands and eyes on. This is simply a product of what I’ve discovered and a little of my take on it as well.
It’s Not Necessarily Being Used
Before I delve into how it would be in a business’ best interest to market itself, it’s important we first examine whom these businesses would be marketing to.
- Twitter: A recent study conducted by Barracuda Labs, a security firm, found that of 19 million Twitter accounts examined, only about 21 percent were active users.
- Facebook: While statistics for this current year are still growing, it can be determined that this networking site has about 350 million users, making it the “third largest nation,” technically.
Now, while the number of ACTIVE users for Facebook isn’t quite fully developed yet, we can make an educated guess that it would lie somewhere around 50 percent.
Why look at the numbers?
From the start, it’s important that we know our audience and we know them well. If I were a business manager, I would not want to waste my time marketing to a community or online site wherein less than one-fourth the accounts are active.
Why Should My Business Do This?
Please don’t misunderstand this: I’m not saying that because social media is available for business to market their brand, everyone should jump on the bandwagon and create Twitter and LinkedIn accounts!
Remember this: just because you can to do something, doesn’t mean you should always go out and do it! In the end, you should be knowledgeable about developing marketing outlets, but also be aware of what is simply in your best interest.
Ultimately, you should use social media for your business only if you want to.
Some businesses can use Facebook, for example, as a means of “professional networking.” Be cautious, however, that the ‘social’ doesn’t being to mingle with the ‘professional.’
Some might use social media as a means to brand themselves and get their product out in the public’s eye.
The most important to me, however, is that businesses can use social media to really understand their clientele better. To better one’s business, it’s almost imperative they realize what are any developing trends in society and consequently develop themselves off of those.
Businesses can develop a better connection with their consumer market through the use of social networking.
One word of caution (and this is where “knowing your audience” really kicks in): a study taken of businesses using Twitter in the United Kingdom, and found that there were a lot of retailers with business-like followers, and not many consumer followers—promoting yourself to your own competition isn’t the best way to promote yourself.
If your business wants to take a leap into the realm of social media, it’s simple:
- Know what your goals are, as a business
- Understand who it is that you want to reach out to (your audience)
- Find the social medium that fits best for those wants and needs
Take it Slowly!
There are some things, however, that you need be careful to avoid, if your business decides it best to take the path of social media.
One that I really want to focus on can actually be taken as a life lesson as well. That is, one thing that you don’t want to do as you’re developing your company’s social media brand is probably something that you wouldn’t want to do in general:
DON’T GIVE UP.
Don’t go into social media with the mentality that you’re going to see instant success for your company. Some products, I can imagine, will flourish within days of presenting themselves on the Internet. Most companies, however, are going to take time to develop properly (especially if the creator for your business has never done something like this before).
You also need to devote yourself (or somebody) to the job of constantly updating your social media outlet. Don’t stop tweeting or posting, if you decide to take the route.
Dr. Susan Currie Sivek, a professor at California State University, Fresno, once said that “having a blog that is never updated is worse than never having one at all; it makes you look noncommittal and disconnected.” While she directed her advice at developing and maintaining a blog specifically, her words ring true for businesses and their social media adventures.
So, as a business, once you’ve established your wants and needs and started branding yourself through social media, try to stay consistent and don’t give up.
It’s important to not only know your audience, but ask yourself this as well:
How would you want your audience to perceive you?