When I often present about social media, there is an element of fear about what it involves. The fear is purely one of the unknown and not about the reality of using a new tool to do what you do every day in business. Even at a networking event, you can be fearful of stating a conversation particularly if it’s your first time at an event. The sooner you chip in the sooner you feel comfortable with those around you.
Social media is about having conversations. It’s always best to pop over and have a chat, or pick up the phone and talk to someone – but there are only so many hours in the day. It’s about listening to others, engaging with their conversations then adding something new.
Equally social media enables you to talk to multiple people at the same time whether they are in Hong Kong or just around the corner. It too is about listening, joining in with the conversation and then adding value to the discussion with your own experiences.
Another fear is that the new social media tools will cost time and time equals money. There is a small grain of truth in that statement, but the reality is you need to assess your communications and then find ways you can save time and money.
Here are a few steps to achieving that goal:
1. What do my customers, colleagues and peers think of my business. You know your USPs, brand and your skills, but do the people who matter? Find out by talking, creating a blog or services like Surveymonkey.com.
2. You now know the areas you need to communicate, try and condense them into 3-5 messages you consistently want to get across.
3. How do you get that message out? Carry on as before, or find out how your customers talk to each other. Is it in a magazine, Twitter, Linkedin or industry events. Volvo have recently stopped using printed brochures saving millions on their costs as they know most people are happy to look online.
4. Saving time is a case of creating content and linking to it. I’d suggest you create a blog and use it to host your press releases, newsletters, background information, announcements and so on. This prevents the duplication of work.
For example, rather than print a newsletter and/ or designing an eNewsletter get a web company to design a nice leaflet, just write it as a blog and send a single link to your customers. This can be linked on twitter or Facebook further broadening your reach. Sometimes we add tasks without looking to see why we are doing them and what it can replace. Is this achievable? Yes, and companies big and small adopt these principles.
Everyone knows the best referrals are those that come from word of mouth. So take a look at the way you have conversations and you might find using social media can multiply the number of people who hear that word of mouth, even if it’s ‘word of tweet’ or ‘blog’. So go on, try starting a blog at Blogger.com. It’ll take you five minutes to create a tool which will help you make conversations, boost your reputation and improve your SEO rankings.
Thomas Atcheson, PR Manager and former Journalist.