Social media: are you choosing the right channel?

How can my small business benefit of social media? Or myself?

This is a question that I hear almost daily…

I remember in the old times, when we have repeatedly heard that the best advertising ever was the “word of mouth”. And I would agree.

You were not only adding a pretty face to a slogan, or recording unforgettable jingles, or even running amazing promos and sales to attract the customer to your business. You were basically getting free testimonials (actually you did not pay your customer to advertise you, but sure put a lot of effort, time and resources to provide an incredible experience to them, so they would talk about you to their friends, families, co-workers, and believe me, that is nothing but expensive).

Word of mouth was and it is still great because you are not selling your product or service to your potential customers, your current customers are talking about a great experience that they already had, something that really worked out and they are very happy about. They are advertising your company for you!

But, these were the old times…

No, wait! What is really social media other than the old “word of mouth” magnified zillions of times?

That is the way I see social media – nothing different from the old “word of mouth”- well, truth said, it obviously uses the latest technology, structured branding and a group of concepts and strategies.

Wikipedia defines Social media as “the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks”.

Merriam-Webster defines as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”.

At the end of the day, put your old word of mouth in any form of electronic communication and you have “social media”.

Part of the new social media concept is to speak to the right audience, explore contents that will build the company’s (or your personal) reputation and an engaged virtual community, reach out to all the customers at once (by answering questions and complaints), or increase your e-commerce results with promotions and coupons.

Fact is our world is completely surrounded by social media and you cannot be out of it.

Something that is very important is that you understand the different social media channels so you can target the right audience, post the right content and achieve the best results. I mean, if you going to promote yourself or your company in LinkedIn, use a profile photo that portrays your professional image – please, do not use a photo of you in

those skimpy jeans shorts and tight white tee-shirt, or a photo of you on that fabulous afternoon on the beach (where you are in your swimwear holding a bottle of beer. Those are photos for your personal Facebook page, which you are sharing with your best friends.

Share the right content: how many of you got tired of the “political advertising” shared in your Facebook page? Or, why do you believe you have to share photos of your dog and cat playing together or the progress of your pregnancy in LinkedIn?

Same thing with Twitter: If you have a business Twitter account and your target audience is “professionals”, do you think you should really share that you are waiting for 20 minutes at the Starbucks drive-through? Just saying…

Whether you use LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Blogs, Google +, Digg, Tumblr or any other channel/network think of your business or personal branding, strategize and choose the right ones.

What I really mean is that using the right social media channel will captivate the right audience. And it is very important to remember that whatever you say will not be heard by only the people who you necessarily chose anymore, but their connection, the connections of their connections and…you get the idea.

Social media should be used to build your image, not to sink it!

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