I caught a disease from social media and I don’t know if it’s “tweetable” by modern medicine. I am fully vested in all the important social sites; LinkedIn for business, Facebook for friends, old business coworkers and a few “must know” people registered for the big time waster. I even have a fan page. I have a couple of blogs, write for some blogs that aren’t mine, I tweet, I Stumbleupon, Pin and belong to other, older sites for which I’ve long since deleted the bookmarks. I was one of the first people to discover social media. Not a pat on the back – just a testament to my ability to keep my sanity.
When I started sending e-advertisements in 1993, simple jpegs and animated gifs attached to regular e-mails, people went nuts! When I was asked what it cost, I would reply, “not a penny.” They were blown away at the possibilities. Shows you how far we have come in just a few years.
But, I always knew it was important to keep up with the cutting edge of technology and think I lost it when I got too comfortable with the ease and availability of the interface tools out there on social media sites. Drag and drop, point and click, drool a little less, etc. It’s like the guys on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise and their rapid-fire button pushing to program the computer to go forward. In reality, in the future, there will be a go and stop button with a simple joystick. Our machinery is getting smarter than we are. Just in time!
What Do You NEED From Social Media?
Social media sites are the new stop and go buttons for technology. Simple to use and effective if you use them correctly, know which ones to avoid and how to stand out among the billion voices on the internet.
You don’t need to be on every social media site. It is always better to engage a smaller audience passionately, than to bore too many prospects with lack of attention.
Twitter, for instance is the billboard along the digital highway where your message may be read by those speeding by. Usually you need to refresh your billboard a few times a day for several days. Twitter, for most, teeters onto the side of “need” rather than “optional” for any social media outreach.
Facebook is a way to have what is perceived as a more casual interaction with fans. A brand can be relaxed and informal… but not too much! Facebook functions allow for some helpful tools, especially the new hashtag function for greater outreach among non-fan Facebook members.
YouTube and Vine, if you can produce quality videos, are great marketing tools via social media. If you don’t know how to do it, then learn… quickly! People are reading less and less and expect multiple images and video.
You might want to use Pinterest to show off product lines for people to pin and share. You might want Instagram for images by you and supplied by fans. The idea is to keep the social media platforms you choose active and making sure they are effective for your target consumer. Anything that isn’t working is a waste of your time.
Do You Blog?
Blogging allows you to connect and interact in real time with the consumer/client. It can set you up as an expert in your field, increases your site SEO, keeps people coming back for fresh content and, naturally, can increase your business.
Over a billion and a half search returns on blogging. At least ten of them have some great information! The sheer amount of articles on the subject does show that blogging, especially for business, is the hot trend in social media. But, it’s more than a trend. While audiences evolve the way they wish to receive communications, the basics of blogging will remain the same, while the content may move from the written word to all video.
With 36 million articles on jQuery tips, you might want to research what content is unique and will bring people to your blog as well as encourage readers to share the content and make your words and name viral. Be out of the ordinary. Take a look at jQuery from another angle, attack it, make love to it — just show your passion from your own perspective and value readers who share your view.
There are blogs that have articles about business, social media, marketing, etc. and offer free downloads of white papers and templates. There are blogs that offer subscriptions to new content every month and do very well, but is that what you want from your blogging? Whatever brings in a prospect and converts that person into a customer, then whatever you are doing is working… for at least this week. Next week may be different. Be flexible and move quickly!
Show Your Expertise
Why do prospects come to your site in the first place? Naturally, they’re looking for someone to fulfill their needs. They’ve most probably searched your business type so they can find someone local. Keep in mind that the prospect has either never had the work done/bought the product or has had a bad experience with fulfilling the same need. The prospect will want to know they can trust you before they plunk down their money. You want your blog to sell them before they ever make their first call to you.
Blog about your work process. Tell them how you work and use case studies of past projects as examples. By showing the prospect what they can expect, you’ve done 90% of the selling you would have to do over the phone or in a meeting and any time saved in holding meetings is time spent being paid for working on the client’s design needs.
When you can write about a certain expertise, you can also gain a following from other people in your industry, http://graphicleftovers.com/graphic/social-media-and-networking. If you can write a clear, concise, and easy to read post for laypersons, prospects will see you in a different light than your competition and, once again, besides the edge, you may have already made the sale.
Protect Your Brand
No matter what content you decide to add to your blog, remember the number one rule of social media: Protect your brand! Your name and reputation, in the age of the internet, can be smeared with one quick post from some troll or unhappy client.
There will always be one or more people (“trolls”) who live for nothing more than to cause you heartache. Unfortunately, you must deal with them as if they were valued customers, to show others how a valuable customer is treated. The good news is that trolls are looking for a flame war, so playing nice usually makes them go away.
Sure, it’s easy to track them down via the web and see they are not exactly in a position to judge others but words have strength and you don’t want clients using them to consider if they will trust you. Make sure that you protect your brand every day. Moderate the comments on your blog or website. You are not The New York Times and don’t have to allow equal time to nay-sayers (not that any news source does, as I’ve found out from my work with the biggest newspapers and magazines). You don’t have to allow any comments on YOUR blog or site. You are not under any moral or legal obligation to give anyone equal time to “correct” or attack you.
You also need to search out what appears on Twitter with links to your posts, as well as reposts throughout the web. You can’t stop people from commenting elsewhere but you can respond to their comments in a professional and calm manner. Doing so will gain admiration from others and will aggravate the trolls. When putting yourself out on the web, remember the immortal words of the immortal Oscar Wilde:
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”
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