How Social Media Helped Our Business

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This article was written and first posted for Ann Hawkins who is one of my twitter buddies and fellow ranter. ;-)

I’m often asked about my own social media journey and how I used it to gain awareness for my business. For me, social media is about anything that offers an opportunity for dialog. It’s not about who follows who, its about who engages with who. Keep this in mind and you won’t go far wrong.

An “F” Word Or Two: Forums & FaceBook 
My journey started with forums. I began by reading forum posts within my niche. Partly so I could learn new ideas and techniques, and partly for my own entertainment. Reading the posts made me realise that I knew as much, if not more, than those posting and replying.  Some of the information given was factually incorrect or just thinly disguised sales tactics being used to reel in unsuspecting newbies. This got me so riled that I began replying to threads and correcting those who were wrong. Over time I became known for ‘telling it like it is” and my reputation began to grow.

Forums can be aggressive or argumentative places though, and eventually the in-fighting and selling frenzy was why I moved away from them.  Along with forums I set up a business Facebook account.  Facebook is not my favorite tool because I find it quite spammy in content, however, one of the biggest deals we have ever done come to us via a Facebook contact, so I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand because you never know what tool others are more comfortable using.

What Twitter Did For Me 
In early 2009 I joined Twitter because so many folks were going on about it!  I must admit it took me a couple of months before I ‘got it’ and began to understand the true power of this amazing medium. On Twitter I met a very influential marketing person who I clicked with immediately, and he understood the way to use social media effectively for business. He also encouraged me to blog. Twitter combined with blogging has been phenomenally successful for me. It gives me the power to connect to those who would not normally cross my path, and in doing so, I can seriously up my game.

It’s the simplest way to get right in front of movers and shakers in any business realm.  I made it my mission to meet in person as many folk as I could from my Twitter followers.  A Twitter introduction to Bernie Mitchell led to me being directly involved with Be2camp events, but that’s another story.

Why Blogging Works 
Ahhh blogging, I LOVE it! It has been incredibly successful for us.  A blog can make you the ‘go to expert’ in your niche if done properly.  The reach and power of blogs is astounding.  Blogging should be the backbone of your social media strategy in my opinion.  It’s a place to share information, control the output (and comments-for spam or aggression), create a niche, and show everyone how knowledgeable and approachable you are.

I’ve posted over 290 blogs and had over 700 comments ( not including comments on other social channels – I’ve had thousands of those!). All in just over a year. We had over 40 guest writers to blog for us including Sarah Beeny, Right Move, Money Supermarket to name a few. Blogging has given us a voice and the ability to connect in real life with those who we want to do business with. How fantastic is that? Older companies still think being at the top of Google is the holy grail because its easier to track “return on investment” than “return on involvement.”  But that’s changing rapidly, and it’s now as much about how they find you as which search engine gets you hits.

The great thing about connecting on social media is that whenever I plan a trip to London for a meeting, I will fire out a Twitter message and see if anyone from my Twitter list wants to meet for coffee too.  Wham! more connections made.  You can’t do that on Google!

10 Things To Remember When Using Social media 
1. Social media is not about follower numbers, its about the quality of those contacts.
2. Make an effort to meet those new contacts face to face. Business is done with people not avatars!
3. Don’t spam people with your sales message – they are interested in you initially not your business.
4. Be helpful, you will get lots of questions – business and non business related, help folks and they will return the favour.
5.  Make it your strategy to be open about your business and yourself & you will get much more from SoMe.
6 Be targeted with your following in the beginning, you can always weed them out / change them later on.
7. Figure out who is influential in your niche, and make an effort to chat to them – chatting leads to business.
8. Be real and not over syrupy, people will see through that online and off.
9. Be careful using automatic messages, they are not chat, people see them as sales spam.
10. Have fun! Don’t talk business all the time-you will end up being like the crashing bore at a party.
And finally, remember this;  social media creates opportunity, and that’s what we all look for as business owners- right?

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