First, what is social media and how do we use it for our
businesses? Social media is simply a new way to connect and
communicate. The big difference is that consumers are in
control of whom they get information from and connect with.
It also goes beyond connection in that we all are publishers
and consumers, there's no middle man (aka publishers) telling
us what we can or can't read or publish. For businesses,
social media is a very powerful way to stay connected with
customers and attract new ones.
What are the different types? There are 3 big ones,
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are many others such as
My Space, Ning, etc. yet for now, these are the ones you need
to concern yourself with, as a business. The important part
is to understand the differences and how each one can benefit
Facebook is for personal connecting. It is great for
connecting and staying in touch with friends, schoolmates,
neighbors, etc. Accordingly, it is a great place for
businesses like restaurants, retail shops, etc. that sell to
individual consumers. How? Simply get your customers to
become a "fan" of your business. On Facebook, someone who
connects with you is called a "fan" if you are a business.
LinkedIn is for business connecting. It is great for finding
and connecting with colleagues, clients, potential clients,
vendors, etc. Accordingly it is a great place for a business
like printers, marketers, lawyers, etc. who sell to business
consumers. LinkedIn is like Facebook in that people connect
with you if you invite them or they invite you.
Twitter is about real time communication in short bursts.
Twitter lets you send out 140 characters of text to anyone
who is following you. It is best used for instant
communication. Good business examples are breaking news or
information, special deals or last minute changes.
Individuals and celebrities use it to tell their friends and
fans "this is what I am doing or thinking right now" I don't
recommend this for business until you fully understand the
media. I suggest you use it for instant communication of
timely information for your customers and followers whether
they are individuals or businesses. Similar to Facebook and
LinkedIn you can invite someone to follow you but they
ultimately decide to or not.
So how do I get started and what do I do? First, set-up
your business on the social media that will help your business
type. Second, start letting everyone know that you have an
account so they can follow, friend, fan or connect with you.
Third, start sending out information that is educational,
entertaining or informative. Forth, strike up a conversation
with those that respond to you. It's that simple. Social media
is a lot more effective and practically free compared to many
other traditional marketing and communication methods.