Social media has made an enormous difference not only to our personal lives, but to our business lives too. It has opened many new doors, created countless new opportunities, and brought people into our lives who we might never have known without it.
In the 21st century we keep in contact with our friends and family on Facebook without having to send them a letter or pop round to see them because their timelines inform us of how they are doing, their latest news, where they are on holiday, and even a picture of their dinner. LinkedIn updates us about their job and career achievements, whist their tweets provide minute by minute updates about what they are watching on television and what they think about it, their battle with insomnia, their morning wasted waiting in for a delivery… the list really is infinite!
From a business perspective social media really has been a game changer. By making the world more accessible it has indeed made it a smaller place. With Facebook and Twitter we can build an audience of potential customers, alongside our existing ones, who have opted in to receive our messages. Yes, opted in. Now we don’t have to place our marketing messages in places where we hope our target market will see them… television, newspapers, leaflet holders in hotels and supermarkets, bus backs et al, now we can deliver them directly to their Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. And even better still, we can finely tune our Facebook advertising to pick the exact demographic that we want to reach, right down to targeting fans of our competitors. How’s that for accurate marketing? And, as if that isn’t clever enough, you can run a Facebook campaign to drive people to your website, where a Facebook pixel will capture their information so that with your next campaign you can specifically target people who have visited your website…
You can run but you can’t hide!
So this is all good, yes? From the above how could you disagree? A new, smaller world which is easier to reach out to and engage with. What could possibly go wrong? Well it comes at a price, and that price is that too many businesses think that ‘getting out there’ on the Internet will be all it takes. It’s what I call the Field of Dreams Syndrome ‘If you build it they will come’ where a business has a snazzy new website created by a skinny jeaned and Conversed up team of directional haired young web developers working out of an industrial chic studio with bare brickwork and dangling light bulbs that could double up as a trendy wine bar in the evenings, and a Facebook page and Twitter account that “I run myself rather than pay someone because I like to keep my hand in…” What you mean mate is you just enjoy doing it, you only have half an idea what you are doing, it passes the time and is a bit of contact with the outside world. And for some this is just dandy and they enjoy great success, but for others it becomes a never-ending cycle of lots of enthusiastic ‘likes’ on their posts but little in the way of enquiries and new business. Sadly, for many, the art of picking up the phone and calling a hot prospect, or even an existing customer who has been a bit quiet for a while, and actually speaking to them, has been lost, or in many cases has never been developed, and possibly never will be.
There’s a lot to be said for kickin’ it old skool sometimes… rocking up at a company you would love to do business with, asking for the name of the person you need to speak to, then leaving a brochure and your business card for them with the message that you will call them in a day or two. It doesn’t hurt, it does actually work, and it gets you away from the computer and out in the fresh air for a change. Then, when you’ve left your comfort zone, hit some networking events, but don’t just turn up once and expect to go back to the office with a hat full of orders, it doesn’t work like that. Keep going, get to know your fellow networkers and build relationships with them because you never know, once you’ve earned their trust some of them may want to do business with you, and even better, every man and woman amongst them knows other people they might just recommend you to.
In conclusion then, social media is an amazing tool for businesses to harness, and harness it they must, but it ain’t the be all and end all. It’s just one activity out of many we should be undertaking to grow our businesses.