“I just don’t get social media,” one small business owner told me recently. He was lamenting the fact that if it doesn’t lead to direct revenue, then he has no time for it. I can certainly respect that no-nonsense approach, but he’s looking at social media for small business all wrong. And, he does get it. He just doesn’t know it.
There’s a good chance many of you may share the same sentiment. Or perhaps you know someone who does. So how do you frame social media correctly? And how can I show you that you do “get” it when you don’t think you do? Let’s look …
Framing Social Media for Small Business in Proper Perspective
Social media is a communications channel. It can be used for any type of communication, for business and personal reasons. But it’s not a one-way method of communication, like television, radio or print. There, business advertise and interrupt the personal use of the medium to get a message in front of the audience.
In a two-way method of communication, the audience expects to be able to communicate back — or more appropriately, back-and-forth — rather than just be delivered messages. So advertising only works if there’s a dialogue created. It has to be more than BUY MY STUFF. It has to elicit response, engagement, questions or reactions. And the advertiser then needs to be ready to come back for its own response to that reaction.
As such, a straight ad with no follow-up falls on deaf ears. But, more importantly, very few brands and businesses even try to communicate in that two-way, social fashion, so consumers tune out the advertisements there altogether. The rare exceptions are when the brand gets it, engages and goes beyond the call-to-action to provide value to the audience over time.
So thinking of social media as a “place ad, then get sales” medium is a mistake. You have to think of it differently. And that brings us to the “getting it” part.
Everyone “Gets” Social Media
Ever been to a networking event? How about met other professionals in a social setting? Out to dinner and drinks? Maybe at a community event, the theatre, a sporting event? Ever talk to someone there who might do business with you? Do you get in their face and say “BUY MY STUFF” or do you have casual conversations, maybe trade business cards and set a time to talk about business later?
Then you “get” social media.
It’s really that simple. Engage with your audience to build a relationship over time, provide value to them in hopes that when they’re ready to buy what you sell, they think of you first. If you do only that with your social media channels you’ll win in the long run.
Now Put Social Media In Action
The next step is for you to take your newfound it-getterness and put it to use. Take 10 minutes a day and jump into social media to have conversations with your customers, followers and fans just like you’re at a networking event. If you don’t have anyone populating your pages with comments or questions, go find conversations on Twitter or Facebook Groups or elsewhere and engage there.
Remember: You’re not selling something. You’re building relationships. Try it for a couple of weeks and see how many people you can move closer to your brand. If the opportunities present themselves, sell someone on your product or service, but just like you would at a series of social events over the course of a few weeks. Invite them to come in or get on a sales call or demo with you.
Congratulations. Now you’re doing it.
Share your experiences “getting it” in the comments. What else do you think you don’t get? I’d love to help you see that you do.