If someone had told me that in five years time I would be liking, tweeting, pinning, digging, tagging, chiming, stumbling, and tumbling, I would have thought they were on drugs, or that in five years time I might be on drugs, because of all the weird things I will be doing. Terms that might have sounded odd years ago are now part of the lexicon and more and more people are coming round to the idea of social media in both their personal life and their business life.
Internet dinner parties
To use the age old metaphor, if the Internet is a bustling city full of information then social networks are clubs, bars and dinner parties being hosting within the city. Twitter could be seen as the girls chatting in the bathroom whilst social bookmarking sites would be the ‘specials of the day’. The idea of a dinner party is a great way of thinking about how to use and behave of the different social media channels.
For example, would you arrive at a dinner party shouting out your company name wearing nothing but company branded clothes and speak to people purely about your company and its products. If you did you might find yourself very unpopular with the other members. Social media are the tools and channels to do social networking and like in the real world, networking is all about making friends or contacts that in some cases turn into profitable business relationships.
People buy off people
Many sales training courses will tell you that ‘people buy off people’ and social networking is a way to give your company a personally in these social spaces. Like being at a dinner party, members join in conversations and listen to what is being said, ask questions and generally be interested in the speaker. By interacting with useful and interesting comments people will ‘share’ your views with other people at the party and if interested will become friends, fans, followers etc.
When the conversation calls for it, by all means, mention your company, products and services but naturally as if you were speaking to real people (as believe it or not, there are real flesh and blood people on the other end). There are various ways to humanise your channels if you wanted to give potential fans, friends and followers. If you are the sole poster to all your social channels then why not add your name and details to the ‘about’ sections of network, in order to give users a glimpse of who is the voice behind the company.
A good idea when combining multiple employees under one company banner is to tag your posts with a name such as @designcomSteve or @DesigncomBabs (for twitter). You could also add your photo to the Twitter background and Facebook header along with the company logo in order to give the company a face.
The merging of the search and the social
Social media is not going away; in fact it is now merging with many other areas of business. Search engine optimization specialists use it as a channel to improve a brand’s popularity, create awareness, and build links. Some companies also use it as a support system to listen to customers and interact with them if they have any issues or complaints.
More recently, it has been announced that Google and Bing have integrated their search engines with a social element, in order to serve more personalized results. For example, if you search ‘restaurants in London’ you will be served normal results (based on SEO), results from friends and even results from others (foursquare or trip advisor reviews) changing the very nature of search engines. With Facebook’s user base now on 900 million, Google+ on 70 million, and even Tumblr on 50 million there is no sign that these networks will disappear anytime soon so companies might as well embrace these new channels.
For those businesses who say they don’t understand Twitter, think that Facebook is not for business and can’t see the point of Google+ then I say “in five years time you will be liking, tweeting, pinning, digging, tagging, chiming, stumbling, and tumbling”