The Point

Jul

Social Media: Getting It Requires Getting Into It

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21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website: Part 12

Sometimes I think I’m getting pretty good at this social media thing. I’m making new connections all the time. I’m learning a ton. I’m creating a slow-growing, but steady following of people who invest their trust in my online marketing know-how and skills. I’m enjoying it too. Social media is fun.

But before you run off thinking Barry was sure a pleasant-smelling bouquet of roses today, I really must admit:

Sometimes I think I stink at it. Reason being, more often than not, I fail to convince my clients and friends who run small businesses to buy into it. They ask tough, but fair questions along the lines of… Why? Will it land us customers? If it’s not for promoting my products, what good is it?

I wish I had stronger answers. My feeling is, like so many other endeavors, what you get out of social media traces directly to what you put into it. So you see, the more you get into it, the more you “get it.” Admittedly, I sound a tad cliché and the folks I’m trying to convert conclude social media is today’s shiny object, a trend, a time suck or all of the above. And away they go.

social media

Experts make some convincing cases.

On the cover of their in-depth and thoughtful eBook, “Social Media Marketing,” SEOP Inc. promises results a-plenty such as driving traffic, increasing leads and closing sales. To make the report even more compelling a subtitle indicates the pages within reveal time-tested ways to grow your business. The authors kick-off with:

Social media is about building a conversation with your clients and consumers.

Nice. Then they quote a Wikipedia entry claiming social media’s extreme popularity is because it allows people to connect and form relationships.

Two questions: (1) What could possibly be more important to your business? And, (2) Why didn’t I think of that?

In an expanded explanation, they state:

a) Unlike any media to come before, social media delivers the power of publishing to everybody.

b) It is capable of diffusing information faster than any other media.

Then they set aside the whizzy stuff and drop the big one with a profound truth that really shines the light on what’s made social media an unstoppable force.

c) Humans build relationships through sharing, which is the essential component of social media.

You gotta’ love that. I’m into social media. And those in the ever-expanding tribe who don’t blink at tagging the word “marketing” onto “social media,” know what I know now.

Social media connects people and this is how business is done. Companies must network with their customers or suffer the inevitable failure that comes with being disconnected. When you understand the future of your business is forged by forging relationships, you get it. You understand social media is valuable beyond compare.

The number one goal of social media marketers.

Our next expert: Spredfast, a software company that helps companies manage their social media initiatives. In their poorly titled, but elegantly presented eBook, “Social Media Pocket Guide,” (it’s 48 8.5 x 11” pages) they build six cases for using social media for business. We’ll focus on the first one, where they state:

Using social media to build brand awareness is the number one goal of most social media marketers.

The Spredfast eBook follows with four ways in which social media can play a large role in accomplishing the task.

  • • Tremendously extends your brand presence with far greater reach.
  • • Drives traffic to other corporate channels.
  • • Reaches new and growing audiences.
  • • Gives you a platform for illustrating your expertise.

Pocket-sized or not, the resource is rich with strong business cases, content ideas, real world examples, and insights for evaluating your progress with social media marketing. It’s a must-read for newcomers to the social scene. Get it here and get into it.

Now for my two cents: be social and share.

In “21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website” I wrote “Be Social and Share,” an abbreviated (55-words) attempt to encourage you to school yourself on popular social platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I briefly touched on how important it is to understand the enormous reach of YouTube and SlideShare and how bookmarking, news, Q&A, and specialty sites are driving online interactions.

I touched on identifying where your customers are and engaging them there. Then I wrapped up my mini-lesson by encouraging my readers to place the familiar social sharing buttons all over their sites to make it easy for website visitors to share the content.

Some “getting started with social” advice.

Tip o’ the hat to Brian Halligan’s and Dharmesh Shah’s landmark “Inbound Marketing” book for presenting words of advice on how to build your reach when getting started with social media.

• Tell your story. It’s what people respond to.
• Participate often and follow-up quickly.
• Treat people as you would like to be treated.
• Listen.
• Commit long-term. Social media is not a campaign.

The book thanks Michael McDerment of FreshBooks for help with the tips and quotes him with this gem.

“The truth is, while we collect dollars for the service we offer, the currency of our business is relationships. Twitter, our blog, and our forums all help us share ourculture with the world and learn more about our customers themselves.”

The following trio of tips comes from Kipp Bodnar’s and Jeffrey Cohen’s “The B2B Social Media Book.” For context, I’ll tell you the list is described as “ways to bring a social experience to a prospect’s inbox (because email is the most pervasive communication tool).

  • • Include social media profile links in your emails.
  • • Whatever content you produce, offer share buttons.* (More on this to come.)
  • • Don’t leave out the option to share via email.

Fear not the simple act of embedding buttons.

We’ve covered “why social” and tips-a-plenty on what to do. It’d be a shame not to give you a little assist with “how.” But it’d be a waste of my time to rewrite a killer roundup on the subject from the social media channel of Mashable, “HOW TO: Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Website.” Have at it.

I leave you with an asterisk.

I set out to expand on my social media tidbit from “21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website” and penned a fairly long story, so I offer you a big blue thumbs up for indulging me to this point and feel I should reiterate the core of what I’ve been trying to say.

*Share.

Share your knowledge. Share your experience. Share your ideas and inspirations. Share the best of your brain and do it with heart.

Ever discover a great band? A great restaurant? Maybe a great place to go? A great book? And the juicy part is, it’s not U2, or Emeril’s, or Disneyland, or “Harry Potter.” It’s lesser known. It’s kind of your discovery.

Don’t you just love sharing it? Don’t you love getting feedback about how much the person you recommended it to enjoyed it? We both know what happens next. You get asked, “What else do you recommend?”

You have a new friend. You’ve won their trust. Welcome to social media.

[Perhaps you won’t be at all surprised by what I’d like to ask of you now. If you enjoyed this article and get something out of it, please share it. That little green button makes it perfectly easy.]

About the author

Barry Feldman Barry Feldman, founder of Feldman Creative, is a prolific writer with 25 years of experience bringing his clients' online presence to the next level through copywriting and content marketing creation and consulting. He writes and educates clients on online marketing on The Point and on many other sites across the web. Connect with Barry on Google+.