Should my Company use Social Media?

Originally published in the 2011 October issue of the MSAAsupplement digital magazine.

By now, most of you reading this article understand the benefits of Social Media. You have jumped onto Facebook and are surprised at how it can look at the small amount of information you have entered and somehow find a classmate of yours from high school who you haven’t talked to in over ten years. Others have learned about Twitter and how it has become a modern news feed you can get in your home office, but also on your phone. Some of you may have found that when you don’t know how to do something, like replace electrical sockets in your home, that you can jump on YouTube and see how to do it by watching a couple of videos.

The growth of our knowledge base is incredibly impressive and how we get our information surprises even me. Social media expert Erik Qualman (socialnomics.net) states, “We no longer search for news, the news finds us. We no longer search for products and services, they will find us via social media.” It is a crazy concept, one which has not been embraced by all business professionals, but it is true.

It is the shift in purchasing potential from traditional advertising which makes YOUR social media presence necessary. Print advertising and yellow page ads may no longer be enough to see growth in your bottom line. As a professional marketer, even I am caught off-guard when social marketing is used on me.

Recently, I did a quick search online for some slippers to give to my wife for her birthday. Because of the intelligence built into Google, I have recently been shown more ads for slippers on other websites that I visit. Advertisers can’t wait for me to find them; they are out looking for me. How can we as professional marketers make this work for us? We need to stay on top of current trends, and we also need to experiment from time to time.

Here are a couple of tips that might help you with your social media footprint:

Focus on one or two sites/services: Don’t try to set the world on fire by jumping into every social media site. Start with one or two and get to know them well. Facebook is probably the easiest place to start.

Schedule time: Much like exercise, you may need to schedule time to focus on your social media. If you let it slip by, you will soon find that your presence is stale and no one will remember or think of you when they need you.

Use social media effectively: If every post/status you update is a sales pitch, no one will listen. Soon you will become the boy who cried wolf...one day you may have a truly amazing auction to promote and no one will be listening to you anymore. The best is to actually comment on other status posts and get involved in the conversations.

Track your progress: Distribute a survey or even directly ask your clients/bidders where they heard about your business. This is a fast and easy way to track your effort and know where you are successful and where you need improvement.

Just using social media is not enough any more. Erik Qualman also wisely states, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well do we DO it?” If you aren’t out there telling your story and sharing your product, no one else is. However, if used effectively, social media can take word of mouth about your product/service to a whole new level.