Social Media has been around for a while now, many businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and are actively networking using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. With all this information around about how to do it, why are so many still getting it wrong and using it as a platform to try and directly sell to us?
It’s one of my pet hates to check up on a group in LinkedIn and find it is littered with posts telling everyone how fantastic they are and how they can help them and their business, please stop it. It does worry me that if it continues to be flooded with self-promotion then people will just simply get fed up with the whole thing. It seems the whole givers gain philosophy has been twisted around the wrong way and people are simply out to see what they can get. It really ruins the whole experience for so many people.
Another (and there are many) pet hate is being bombarded with spam via the social networks, yes I connected with you because I am interested in what you have to say, yes I want to learn more about your business, but no I don’t want a daily email trying to persuade me to spend money with your company. In fact I am far less likely to do business with someone who is trying to shove it down my throat (unless it’s ice cream – I might make an exception there).
Social networking is about building relationships with people, it’s about creating an awareness of your brand amongst your network in the hope that they will spread the word, it’s about knowledge sharing and helping each other to succeed in business. You don’t need to blatantly sell to people. You will gain far more by taking the approach you would with an offline networking group because if you help people out by putting them in touch with someone useful or giving them some free advice then you can bet when they need your services in the future, you will be the first person they think of.
That’s it, rant over. I’m off to Facebook
This is a question that seems to crop up a lot. It can be overwhelming to manage too many different social media accounts when you’re just getting started with social media marketing, so naturally you want to choose the most effective one.
Unfortunately there is no one right answer for every business. Facebook works wonderfully for some businesses and dismally for others, ditto with Twitter, LinkedIn and all the rest.
Business to business social media marketing tends to work well in LinkedIn, while business to consumer seems to work better in Facebook. This is a generalisation though and there will naturally be exceptions.
Different social media platforms tend to be more important for different industries too. For instance, in the education industry YouTube can be extremely effective, but in the Print and Newspaper industry it is not nearly as useful.
Here are a few examples of the most important social media for various industries*:
- The industries that seem to benefit most from Facebook are Fitness & Wellness, Retail, Travel & Tourism, Real Estate and Non Profit.
- Twitter is the most important social media for Telecoms.
- Businesses in the Development & Construction industry will usually find LinkedIn to be the most effective for them.
- Blogging is most important for those in the Professional Services, Medical Health, Manufacturing, Technology, Marketing Agency, Financial & Mortgage, Government & Politics and Print & Newspaper industries, though it can still be very effective for others.
- YouTube and Flickr can work very well alongside other social media marketing for some industries but are not usually recommended on their own.
*Source: WSI Social Media Experts Think Tank, July 2009
If you’re still not sure where to start, think about your target market and then decide which social media they are most likely to frequent. Of course your own personality and social media knowledge will also affect how effective you are on various platforms, so perhaps the best place to start is where you feel most comfortable.
Whichever social media platform you choose to start with, it’s important to make sure you understand how to use it properly to engage with people. Building relationships is one of the key benefits of social media, so focus on that and you won’t go far wrong.
LinkedIn differs from most social networking sites in that it is expressly designed for business use. While many other social media sites can also be used for business, LinkedIn specialises in it and welcomes those looking for professional networking opportunities with open arms.