AT a networking evening a few weeks ago, a rather good looking gentleman, a sort of young Hugh Grant lookalike with floppy hair and a knee buckling accent asked me, “Do you know all there is to know about social media?” Thinking this was some sort of networking line used to initiate conversation, and not being able to concentrate on anything but his dazzling pearly whites, I giggled and mumbled something along the lines of, “Um I think so”. Oh how wrong my answer was…!
The following week I found myself sat in a room at the Cheltenham Chase Hotel, and no, not in a hotel room having been whisked off my feet by my said, ‘gorgeous man’, unfortunately that scenario just remains in my fantasies. No, I was sat in a room having just collected my name badge, for a course called; you guessed it, ‘All You Need To Know About Social Media.’
As I scanned the room, which I have to say was much fuller than I had expected, I noticed two things. Firstly the age group of the attendees, with the average age I suspect around the late fifties, early sixties mark. Secondly and probably most noticeable was the look of distain on the majority of the faces. The reason for this type of expression was confirmed upon attempting to introduce myself to the gentleman next to me. Before even names were exchanged he was uttering the words, ‘this is the last thing I want to be doing and the last place I want to be.’
The fact is, the unhappy gentleman, accompanied by a plethora of other unhappy business men and woman, had to be there if their businesses are to keep up with the competition and survive in this ever advancing world of technology and social media. They have realised, or are in the process of realising, how important social media is and how their clients and target markets are all using these channels. Even if it is the last element of running a business they want to worry about, the truth of the matter is, it is vital if their business is going to compete and survive in the market place.
Social media is a platform that allows you to; raise awareness, build credibility, publish news and updates, share ideas and engage in two-way communication. It allows your customers to; engage in two-way communication, share information, communicate with other customers and share ideas. It allows businesses to; stay in touch with existing clients, reach out to new audiences and markets, communicate with hundreds, thousands, millions of people and better understand related markets.
With this information social media is confirmed as that necessary minefield. I call it a minefield, as with the constant advent of ever more channels, how are people and businesses to know which are the best ones to engage in? My advice is, discover the right ones that work for you and your business. Don’t try and spread yourself too thinly by trying to engage in them all. First and foremost, find out where your clients and customers are. This can be achieved through online surveys, such as Survey Monkey, or just plain old-fashioned word of mouth. Once you have this vital information, ensure you are using the channels as effectively as possible.
One final note, social media is not rocket science but it takes time and effort. Don’t expect to see quick results, it is a marathon, not a sprint, but you and your business will reap the rewards if you persevere. Which perhaps is a quality I can take back and apply to the floppy haired gentleman…?