Social media tends to provoke one of two widely different reactions from business people – they either embrace it wholeheartedly and devote enormous amounts of time to it at the expense of other activities or they avoid it either out of fear or out of belief that it is just a fad which is a waste of time for them. This is particularly true of small businesses who do not have the luxury of appointing a person, still less a whole department, to manage their interactions with social media.
- you can find and address communities with particular interests, and build your own communities
- conversations can be rich in structure and include short messages, links to detailed material, photos, videos, podcasts, slideshows and webinars
- feedback is quick and direct
- the means for passing on the message about your product is built into social media software
- Building and maintaining a shopfront: for most people this is not physical but a website or set of Facebook pages where the market can see who you are and what you have to offer.
- Meetings and events: face to face time where you have direct contact with prospects, customers, suppliers and partners. You might also include video conferences or even phone calls in this activity as long as you obtaining a rich feedback from people’s expressions, manners and voices to help build personal relationships.
- Listening and joining in relevant conversations: this is done on sites such LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+,Twitter, popular blogs, and discussion forums. To succeed you need to be interested in your customers, so it is vital to listen to them and comment on what they say rather than hogging the conversation with your own opinions. People are going to engage with you and Like/Follow/Link with you if you are interested in them as well as if you have something interesting of your own to say.
- Starting conversations yourself: when you have something to say, or even better when you want market opinion on a particular subject, then you can start a conversation, be it a Tweet, a post on Facebook or a topic on a LinkedIn group.
- Publishing detailed information that shows your expertise in a particular area (whitepaper, blog posts, slideshow, how-to video, etc) or that explains your product and service in detail.
Decide how much time you have to do all these tasks and then set realistic goals for how often you can do each of them and stick to it. Better to follow one or two of the most relevant groups and comment every few days than follow dozens but comment so infrequently that you do not leave a lasting impression.