I have been asked the question, "Can I really use facebook and twitter for my type of business?" Being a social media consultant and fan, my first reaction is to simply say, "of course it is!" While I believe that to be true, I also know that many small businesses lack a desire for the medium and a lack of passion is more harmful than good.
I do my best to convince my client that they need to consider social media as vital as the phone book used to be. In the 1990's, when you needed a plumber or electrician, you would peruse the yellow pages and find the one with biggest ad. Nowadays, everyone goes to their computer or smartphone and they google-it. Times are different!
It probably runs through every internet marketer and business owners head, the temptation to just create Facebook and Twitter accounts with the intent to barrage the world with their product. Rule #1 is to remember that social media is first social! People interact with social media sites because they provide a bridge of communication with friends and family. The pure joy of seeing your newborn niece in pictures and video while being 3,000 miles away is priceless. Just like advertising campaigns for TV or Outdoor Marketing, you must understand the context of the medium first, next the group of people you are trying to reach, then your product immersion within that.
If you are not willing to be real and vulnerable as a brand/company, then you should consider hiring someone who can be that for you. Today we call that person a Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Brand Evangelist, and more names to come as this develops. You can also consider hiring a web manager with some social media experience as well.
It is in your best interest to keep your sales pitch short, concise, to the point, and (if your really good) hidden in some good value content. The ratio of value content to company sales should be at least 80/20. Your interaction, linking, posting everyday factoids, and genre-based news should consist of 80% of your Social Media drive. Your product promotion or company awareness campaigns should be 20%.
For those who have been in Multilevel Marketing (MLM), you can remember sitting in your pump-up meetings where they tell you hit your "warm" market first, then your out circle, and finally the entire world. Go get'em! ERASE that from your memory! People despise being bombarded with ads, junk mail, and value-less relationships. Besides, you know you hate when the Kirby salesman put his foot at your door while he tried to vaccum your carpet without permission.
I will write on Permission and Prudence in Part 2...