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Thursday
Sep222011

Things I learned about Social Media for Business aka Facebook is a loaded gun… (Part 2)

(Ok, in an effort to break the gobs of information that I ingested over a 3 hour period at the CEDIA Social Media Forum - here's Part 2 of my takeaways from this experience. Much of the info was provided by the presenters and the forum panelists, so all credit where credit is due, the following is how I'm interpreting it.)

Part 1 of my recap of the Social Media conclave talked about, who should you consider taking the reins of your Social Media plans for world domination. And option one was, dude, pay someone to do it. If you picked option one, well you sure don't need me yapping at you, so....

*BUT* if you picked another option and you've decided that either A) You didn't want to hire someone for various reasons to do your Social Media marketing or B) You're not ready to lay out the dinero for something that you're not really sure if there's going to be any tangible return on your investement other than "Woo Hoo! I've now got 1000 Facebook Friends" 

Apart from having a gajillion people to play Farmville with, now that you're diving into Social Media, the question posed is: How? Well based on what I heard, here's one of the most basic rules as a business you should be following when it comes to Social Media:

Be Authentic aka "Don't Be That Guy" (And yeah I'm talking to you Reed Hastings of Neflix)

I know this one seems to be blatantly obvious, but it's pretty amazing how many examples I see *daily* on twitter or facebook or any variety of services where I'm feeling "talked at" by whichever company is pushing out their social media "message". For example in recent news, Netflix's sincere approach at apologizing for "messing up"? Yeah, not so much - respect your audience, it's amazing how much a little humility and good will go a long way in terms of people believing your message.

Which goes into the next part - being authentic is about wanting to be of service, being a resource, and being an interesting destination for information, this is NOT the place for you to be making the hard sell.

I will repeat, Social Media is NOT the place for the hard sell, if you're planning on using twitter as a clearing house for your "everything must go" sales, you are going to fail, and fail miserably in my opinion.

So how can you be authentic? Here's some tips...

  • Be Original - Now this is an obvious standard premise for any aspect of your business, the key to any competitive market is to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd. With Social Media, the absolute key is doing it in a genuine way. If you're excited about a trend or technology, then use it as an opportunity to show off your enthusiasm and *why* you wanted to share the info. Be a resource, not a pitchman. 
  • Pay It Forward - This is just a good concept in general as a productive citizen, but as a business, again sincerity in Social Media (or lack thereof) will come through in a *hurry*. If you see examples of people / companies doing exciting or interesting things well then talk about it! The double edged sword of Social Media is the potential for company narcissism - it's no different than a social situation where if all the other person is doing is talking about themselves and their accomplishments, you'll zone out and avoid them at every next opportunity. Be an ambassador of your field, your industry, your community (or even better all of them) be willing to give credit where credit is due. Side note - false humility or veiled complements are even worse, at that point, just save yourself the headache and don't type anything at all.
  • Build A Community - this is a subset of the above item, Social Media is by nature community based and organic by nature (it's Social! duh) and as a general whole we as humans like to share with one another and form common bonds. Now whether you're establishing these bonds with affiliated trades, your target client base, or even companies you view as your competitors there is truth that we're all far more effective together than apart. Take the opportunites to translate your social media message for a more personal one, get involved and talk about it. You'd be surprised the unlikeliest places you'd run into a future client or even a peer to form partnerships with.
  • Find & Connect With Allies and Resources - this was probably my biggest personal takeaway. In our current economic downturn, there is no place for an "us vs. them" business mindset. Unless you're either *the* established leader in your field, or you've got the war chest to just do things your own way and let everyone fend for themself - collaboration is the name of the game in these economic times. The beauty of Social Media is that it's not penned in by geographical lines, in that respect the internet is truly the World Wide Web, much like community building, nuture your partnerships with your vendors, local organizations, anyone you can think of that you would genuinely like to be aligned with. This is guerilla marketing 101, there's no amount of 4 color brochures or fancy web pages that can replace a personal connection between companies. 

So there you go, some simple rules of how you should be putting out your Social Message, and it's a lot easier said than done. The good news is that if you're participating honestly and genuinely, you'll find amazing responses from the people you're interracting with over the digital airwaves.

Next Up - The nuts and bolts of Social Media broadcasting - Content is King and Establishing a Social Media Policy & Assessing it.