by Erin Nelson
There is no right way to engage with social media. There are however, wrong ways … and plausible solutions. If you are a small or medium sized company, chances are you struggle within the existing (popular) social media sites. This is not entirely your fault. More often than not, it is the case that these sites were built for a purpose that does not align with your business intent. Facebook? This is to keep friends and we-hope-them-to-be-our-friends in constant contact. LinkedIn? That is a database to access company and personal information, used mainly in the cases of recruitment and backlinks. Twitter? This is a blast out mail system that turns information over at an extremelyhigh rate and measures success and failure according to the celebrity of the user.
The reality of these sites is that they were not built to engage businesses with the their potential clients, partners and collaborators. They do not exist to harbor meaningful knowledge or a foundation for lasting professional engagement. To use them alone for your social media business needs is certain to disappoint, as they (mostly) function as ineffective substitutes for what we actually need: thoughtful and creative material within a substantial platform, built specifically for building business relationships.
So where do you go from here?
Let’s first take a look at five, common social media mistakes companies make:
1. Abstaining entirely
2. Not emphasizing the importance of high-quality content
3. Acting within the restraints of rigid convention
4. Acting with resentment and/or fear
5. Not diversifying your social media exposure
The first step to launching a successful social media campaign or structure is to have one in the first place. If you do not have a social media presence, chances are you will cease to exist to a wide array of potential consumers, clients and associates. The Internet Renaissance is here, so why are you living in the Dark Ages?
High-quality content is essential for creating an effective repertoire and following. Why would anyone – business or otherwise – care to be informed about the information you have to offer if it gives him or her no value or entertainment? Your goal should be to provide content that is relevant to the people your company serves. It should provide stimuli or knowledge that without your aid, they would have never been exposed.
Though relevance should not be ignored, avoid following rigid boundaries in your attempt to remain “focused” on your company services or product. If you sell household and yard products, don’t only share the latest deals in your store or link images to mundane products. Give your audience tips on how to remove that tough red wine stain from their white carpet, give them links on ways to redesign their backyard, and inform them of the latest news on solar energy. Do you think Coca-Cola and Bing only features product specials or services? Absolutely not, they communicate what they wish theircompany’s ethos to be, finding creative and entertaining ways to actualize their vision for their audience’s enjoyment.
It may take you awhile to build your following; you may feel in the meantime that your efforts are not being rewarded. This is not a reason to give up – and more importantly, it is not a reason to act afraid. Fear will only limit your creative approach; resentment will inhibit your desire to reach out to costumers, clients and collaborators. Be bold, and be brave. The worst that can happen is nothing (in less, of course, you are caught doing something illegal or outlandish on film), so loosen your bootstraps and try differentmethods until you find what works for you.
Now back to the platform problem.
Many small and medium businesses owners and employees are under the impression that the largely overpopulated sites are the only place where they have the option to expand their social media presence. They are indeed a means to reach an expansive and diverse quantity of people (if these people can, in fact, be reached). Use them as tools by which to push meaningful content, however: be sure to includemore specialized networks in your social media agenda. Develop a company blog and find a content oriented article site by which to establish yourself as a leader within your industry. After all,once you have spent time concocting the right material for your social media agenda, you are going to want to display it somewhere where it can be found.
Happy Social Media Marketing.
About the Author:
Erin Nelson is the Communication & MarketingManager for the Berlin-based startup, exploreB2B. The new social platform, exploreB2B, allows individuals the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other professionals through reading and writing self-published articles.