Before social media began to dominate the marketing scene, people used to have to work much harder to find business contacts and clients. Typically small businesses dealt with those in the local area, and most people had met their business partners in person. People usually did business with those they knew at least to a degree. Today companies find more and more leads online, so does that mean the way business is conducted should change?
I don’t think is has, or that it should. The only thing that has really changed is that suddenly ‘local’ means worldwide instead of within our zip code. The focus of social media should still be developing relationships and then proceeding to business and sales.
I have noticed a lot of companies, especially business to community companies, that seem to use social media as a means of just broadcasting their ideas to the world in the hopes that someone will bite. The audience often seems to pick up on people who just want customers, not relationships, pretty quickly.
Social media is still very new and we are all still learning the best ways to make use of what it offers. Broadcasting messages, though, seem to me as a modern form of telemarketing calls or spam emails. People just ignore them and don’t pay attention to what they have to say.
How to change this?
- Companies need to identify who their key audience is, and then get involved with the conversation.
- Don’t aim to accumulate many followers on Twitter just so they can hear your message. Rather, follow many people on Twitter, start conversations with them, and discuss issues relevant to them.
- If your company offers a product that can help then offer it, but have a relationship in place first.
- Don't send invitations to connect on LinkedIn with a sales pitch in the first line, first find out what your new connection might need, and then offer a way to help.
- When people discuss topics on your blogs, LinkedIn pages/groups, or Facebook page, respond and take an interest in what customers are saying.
Use social media to do business the old fashioned way. When you take the time to develop relationships before diving in with a sales pitch, you have more of a chance of developing a life-long customer and a solid reputation. It may take more time, but will pay off better in the long run.
What do you think? How should companies use their social media platforms to their advantage?