I occasionally have conversations with people who debunk the value and power of social media. They seem to think that some people hide behind social media to avoid actually meeting people in person. Although I’m sure there are some who are like that, I believe social media has more pluses than minuses and can benefit your marketing activities immensely.
I spoke about the global connecting, sharing, and learning benefits in my post on the Benefits of Social Media earlier this year. So I thought I would share some of my real experiences.
Social media enables me to:
- Connect with people through common interests (such as marketing, social media, and golf) irrespective of where they live. Through social media, I have connected with folks worldwide because we found something in common that drove the connection. People I have never met and probably would never have had the opportunity to meet if not for social media have introduced themselves to me either after I’ve connected via Twitter, commented on one of their blog posts or referenced a post in one of mine. It’s really just a matter of time before we’re at someplace in common and our paths cross for real.
- Get to “know” the people I interact with because they share information about themselves, including their photo. “Putting a face with a name” makes the person less of a stranger. Last night at the Institute of Management Consultants meeting I attended in Waltham, MA, Scott Monty, Laura Fitton (Pistachio) and Aaron Strout were on a panel to discuss social media (what else!). Other Twitterers such as Mike Langford, Stephen Dill and Dmitri Gunn were in attendance. Our profile pictures enabled us to recognized each other immediately and conversations bypassed the “getting to know you” banter and proceeded quickly to interesting dialog. It was a great evening made more so by not having to walk into a room of strangers. I hope to get many more opportunities to meet folks in person from my social networks as I did last night. It was a great experience.
- Constantly learn. I get updated on a lot of information from very knowledgeable people so I’m not the “last to know”. Between RSS feeds and Twitter posts with URLs to interesting information, I keep up on the pulse of what’s happening. By scanning various feeds, I can pick and choose the information I’m interested in at the time, flag that which I want to read later or share it with others.
- Carry on conversations with people as if I were in the next office. As a person who works from a home office (and loves it!), I can have conversations with people throughout the day and not feel cut off from the world. But just like co-workers who drop into your office and interrupt your concentration, you have to manage your use of social media to ensure you get work done.
For those of you who are still skeptics about social media, you need to try it in order to understand the value it can be to you. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s OK – it may not be the right marketing activity for your business. But if you are considering social media as a marketing strategy, start with the basics – a blog, LinkedIn and Facebook. Once you get these going, then add Twitter. After that, it’s up to you to determine which other tools may be beneficial to you based on your target market and how you want to reach them.