Friday, July 24, 2009

Don’t be Afraid of Going to the Social Media Party

Even if you don’t use social networking, i.e.: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Inside 919 (ning) or other social media sites, for your business, it’s still important to join the social media party because if you don’t, you’re missing out. In fact, this week my mother-in-law just signed up for Facebook because she doesn’t want to miss out on all of the conversations going on between her progeny. And she wants to view all of the fantastic photos I’ve posted from our summer trips. The way the world is working now, people go to social media sites to find out what’s going on via their friends’ links and comments. I found out on Facebook that Walter Cronkite died almost as soon as it was announced and if you use Twitter, you can receive almost instantaneous news. We’re moving away from people going to websites to find out info; instead, users are more passive and are waiting for info to come to them via status updates, blog feeds, e-newsletters and more.
These last two weeks I’ve learned a great deal about social media from two local experts, Deidre Hughey (pictured above) and Eileen Batson, who spoke at my North Raleigh Coffee and Contacts group. Deidre discussed three rules of social networking and several mistakes people make about using this tool. Eileen discussed how to avoid the social media time suck.
According to Deidre Hughey, owner of The Buzz Builder in Apex, NC, social media is a great tool to build relationships and to get more people to know and trust you. Although she emphasizes, “Social media should not replace your marketing plan. It’s a tool like direct marketing or PR. Social media needs to be a part of your overall marketing plan; it’s a piece of a much larger puzzle. Deidre also spoke about not being afraid of filling out your profile block as completely as possible because, “you never know who is going to click on your site right after you fill it out. What if someone clicks and they find nothing there?” To counter the notion that many women think that the crazies will find them on Facebook or other sites, she told us that most people have a reason to friend you and if you don’t want them as a friend there are protection devices in place to block these people. “Have a plan to stay active and top of mind with your connections and commit to thirty minutes a day on your social media sites,” says Deidre.
Eileen Batson of Batson Group Marketing and PR in Raleigh agrees. She told us to set a consistent schedule and even use a kitchen timer to keep track of our time on the computer. “Write down what you need to do and avoid getting distracted,” Eileen says. She also said that you need to spend time where your clients are and if they aren’t using Facebook or Twitter, then you need to find another way to reach them.
This brings to mind running into a friend at Staples the other day where he was getting ink for his printer so he could send out a printed newsletter to his clients. He knew where his clients were and he knew that an online newsletter wouldn’t be as effective as a printed one.
Eileen also told us about leveraging our time with tools that update our status. She mentioned I use Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter and Facebook updates and when I post a video on YouTube, I link that post with Google Alerts, Facebook and Twitter.
Like most of you, I haven’t been on Facebook that long – I believe this month is my first year anniversary. Who would have thought that my entire family is now on it and that I rush to check my Facebook page before my email account? But we also need to bear in mind that Facebook and Twitter might not be around forever and we still need to have a website, blog and a marketing plan in place that’s not all based on social media. We also need to keep in mind that we can’t live our lives on the computer and it’s OK to not check in for a day every now and then.
So, what about you? How are you managing your social media time? Are you getting the most out of your social media networking? How has it benefited you in the last year both personally and professionally? I’d love to hear from you!

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