If you are a business owner, I strongly suggest you stop resisting social media as a platform to build relationships, your brand and to connect with clients! Just as businesses resisted building and promoting a website, a portion of them are now resisting social media.Why? Is it because you don’t understand it or you think it’s a fad? It isn’t a fad. Is it fear of the unknown? You have more resources available at your fingertips to learn about social media and how it can help your business starting today! Guess what? Your competition is already involved with social media and if you can’t be found online today, you are not found period.Before you jump into social media, let’s clear up some misconceptions.Social media is inexpensive, or even FREE! We need to put this misconception to rest once and for all. Yes, many of the tools and the sites that are involved with social media are free to sign up and use. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed and others do not charge you to sign up and create an account, but you will discover, that is where the free part ends.It takes time to properly create these profiles and to maintain them. It takes time to develop and produce content; to refine what is working and what is not. Social media is and should be part of your marketing campaign. As a business owner you need to make this plan part of your overall business plan. Some companies spend as little as a few thousand dollars on a social media campaign. Others spend upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 or more. This is a form of advertising and marketing your company; tools for building your brand. Treat it as such, budget for it and plan for it. You didn’t go into business without a business plan (did you) so do not start a social media campaign without a plan.Anyone can build your campaign for you. Well, if you spend any time on Twitter, you will realize that thousands of “experts” on social media are promoting themselves. You will discover social media “experts” that barely have two-thousand followers; so remember this, there are no experts. We are all students of social media and it changes so quickly that no one can become an expert.I recall a conversation with a retail store owner about his website. In an effort to save money, the store owner was having a local high school kid design and launch his site. I visited his store six months later and the site had just launched; three months behind schedule. Approximately one year later, a Google search, with specific parameters included that relate to his business and that should have been keywords for his business, resulted in his site being found….on page three. Was the cost savings worth the amount of lost business to his shop because consumers couldn’t find his site or his store? Do you go past page one on a Google search? Hint: consumers typically do not.I use the previous story to highlight the importance of hiring a true professional to build and launch your successful social media campaign. A campaign that is integrated with your marketing efforts as well as your website. You should also interview the person or firm that you decide to choose as a partner! Have they created successful campaigns in the past? Do they integrate video into their campaigns? What does their portfolio look like? Ask for references and specifics of those clients they have worked with successfully.You can make a big splash in short amount of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and typically your social media campaign will not make a big splash or build a strong or loyal following in a short amount of time. It can, but those are exceptions to the rule, not the norm. If you are already a star or have a big name in business, then you can make a big splash; if not, it takes slow and steady work. Twitter is great for building a following and driving traffic to your site, your blog, your website. Use video to acquaint your followers with your company, products, services and staff; but remember it takes time!You can handle a social media campaign internally. Maybe. Most companies rarely employ personnel that are well versed and experienced in social media campaigns. Even if they have the experience, do they have the time? What do you pay them to do and how much? Run the numbers and then hire an experienced person or firm. Another advantage to using an outside person or firm? Their contacts and their network. Chances are, it’s larger than yours. Do you do your own business taxes? Do you represent your own company in legal matters? Why would you try to run a social media campaign internally without the right people, with the right experience?People will automatically find you. That misconception reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, “Doing a good job around here is like peeing in a dark suit, It makes you feel warm but nobody notices” Jason Bolt. People will not automatically find you, but word of mouth, or spread by the click (mouse) can help! Using tools like Twitter, StumbleUpon or Digg helps, but your network, combined with traffic driven by the professional you partner with for your campaign, will help the world find you!You can’t measure social media results. Sure you can. Just as you can measure traffic to your website and responses to advertisements in traditional media, you can measure social media results. Using Google Trends along with other analytics can provide you specific statistics on who is finding you, who is clicking on your links and sites and how well your campaign is working. With the recent changes, you can find out the number of views, clicks, demographic breakdowns and more on your Facebook Fan Pages.Approach a social media campaign just as you would any other aspect of your business; carefully, with planning and the right professionals involved.Those are my thoughts. What say you?
Social Media Misconceptions
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