I recently attended a two day conference known as Social Media Camp. For a self-proclaimed introvert who works from home, the itinerary of workshops, which included scheduled “Networking Breaks” was a little daunting. But by the end of two days worth of speakers, discussions, information, and yes, networking, I was really happy to have taken the time and opportunity to be there, to be part of the conversation. I want to share with you just a few key points and observations from my time at Social Media Camp. This isn’t a list of specifics, but just my general take on social media as it relates to small business. First things first. Despite the use of the word “camp”, there were no fireside sing-a-longs or s’mores. I couldn’t possibly be the only person disappointed by this.
What’s in it for me?
While social media is clearly all the rage with the cool kids these days, does that mean I need to jump on every bandwagon that passes by? That depends. The question we all have to ask ourselves as business owners is this: What’s in it for me? The reason “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t fly with me. Just because everyone else jumps off a bridge, even an awesome one, that doesn’t mean we need to follow.
Know what you want.
With that said, social media provides a myriad of possibilities to promote our business. We just need to approach it with a plan. When it comes to social media strategies, we need to first ask: What am I trying to accomplish with this particular tool? For example, I am a huge fan of Twitter. I use it daily. But I don’t expect it to drive truckloads of business to my front door, because that doesn’t really suit the nature of my business. As someone who works from a home office, I approach Twitter as if it were the office water cooler. Twitter is where I find out what’s happening in the world. I also use Twitter to find and share ideas for web design, communications, social media, and other topics related to my field. My twitter peeps (tweeps?) are like a giant office full of really cool co-workers.
Lastly, I use Twitter to share my own work, but that’s not my main focus when I get on there. I don’t want to be the guy at the water cooler who only talks about what a great job he did on his last project. I like to be the girl who is interested in what other people are doing, the person who shares information that will be helpful to others. It makes for a much more interesting exchange.
If you’d like to join the conversation, follow me! @midnight1003
Where’s the ROI?
How many of you spend time on Facebook during work hours? This is especially easy to do in a home office, given the absence of co-workers or supervision to keep us on task. When we’re done looking at photos of our friend’s adorable children, or latest travel adventure, Facebook has so much to offer as a marketing tool for small business.
But, it’s not free! We may not pay out of pocket for Facebook or most other social media platforms, but we all know how easy it is to spend a half hour (or more) perusing Facebook, scrolling through Twitter, and sending out our message to the world. And as the old saying goes, time IS money. This is especially true for a small business. So, if we are going to spend time promoting our businesses through social media, it is crucial that we get a return on that investment. Having hundreds of Twitter followers and Facebook fans is a great ego boost, and we may build a wonderful supportive community for ourselves, but unless your business income increases as a direct result of the time spent on social media marketing, then it’s not a wise investment.
If it’s not personal, it’s not good business
Amidst the many tools and tips at Social Media Camp, the message I heard repeatedly was this: You ARE your brand. It used to be said “It’s not personal, it’s business.” With the emergence of social media, that’s no longer the case. Business IS personal. People expect that. Social media is a fantastic way to engage with customers and clients in a way that represents our brand, and our business, while being personal. Build relationships, build trust, reply to tweets and posts, learn who your clients are, create a social environment for business to take place online. If our business grows because people feel connected to us in a personal way, then that is worth every second spent updating a status, posting photos of new product, hosting a contest, or tweeting the latest deals.
If you go to Social Media Camp next year (and I highly recommend it) lunch is included, but be sure to pack your own s’mores. You’ll thank me when that mid-afternoon information overload coma kicks in.
How do you use social media in your business? How do you ensure a positive ROI?