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Is Social Media for Every Industry?

I don't think so. You have to be in a consumer market, for sure. If you have a B2B (business to business) type of product or service, then there's a very good chance that you should not spend your time and money on Facebook and other social media venues. You would be wasting your time. Remember who is on Facebook - it's mainly teens through twenties/thirties and grandmothers keeping in touch with the grand kids. Are they interested in industrial trash compactors? No, probably not. So your industry has to fit the audience. There could, however, be some circles forming on Google+ in a more B2B audience, which would make total sense.

I believe where you mainly want to be is on search engines like Google. People using Google are searching. People on Facebook are just browsing. They're not in a buying mode. Spending time trying to sell to them is just too much work and you won't get the best results. There's no good return on investment there. You would be smart to spend more time on your website adding content and focusing on ranking higher in search engines (another topic and something we can help you with).

Make Sure You Do It Right!

What does that mean? It means a few things.

First, have a social media policy at your business. You need to protect your brand and all your employees need to see a company policy on what they can and cannot say about your business - even using their own, personal accounts. You need control of this since each of them could have some social media accounts. If they work in the warehouse, do you want them being the mouthpiece for your company doing customer service?

Second, learn the etiquette. People can spot fakes. If you want influence in your social spheres, you need to become a part of the community - just like in real life.

Here's a good article from one of our clients, Neckerman Insurance. We work with them and they do a lot of social media. In my opinion, they do it very well and they're an insurance company (not too sexy) but they get results and connect with their customers:

Developing a Social Media Plan (www.neckerman.com)

Commit To It!

Again, you need to be a part of the online community that you're trying to reach before you start marketing to them. If you're just throwing out sales stuff, it'll start looking like spam. Provide what people want. Answer their questions. To do this, someone at the company will have to spend time on this - and yes, on company time... so you'll have to pay them to do this work. It's strange thinking that you need to pay someone to use Facebook all day (or part of the day) but that's where we are at now. If you're going to get into social media, that is what it will take.

Make sure they're using an official company account so that if they leave, they're not taking all those people with them. Set a definite strategy. Do it right.

Make Sure Your Website Is Ready

Get your social media accounts set up and link to them on your website. Get Facebook "Like" and "Share" buttons on your website (find out the difference between like, share, recommend and face pages here). Make sure you have a blog set up and get blogging (with a strategy, of course). Make sure your blog posts automatically go out to Facebook and Twitter. If you need help with that, let us know.

If your website is old, then you might want to wait until it's looking really good. Get a website redesign done. Make it look more modern. Your website is the first impressions people may get of your company. If your website was a shirt, would you wear it?

Social Media - Summing Up

Getting into social media is a hot topic. It has been for a while. I actually think it's way over-hyped. It's definitely not for every business out there and that's why we don't push it on everyone. It has to make sense. You should only be spending time and money on things where you can get a return on your investment, of course. If it is a good fit, then do it right. Plan it. Don't just jump in without thinking and planning. And make sure your website is ready.

With the right planning and knowledge, your social media efforts can pay off. It's grass roots advertising but it's also really connecting with your audience. It's more personal, which I think is amazing. Now more than ever, people have access to celebrities and company presidents like never before. Everyone's getting into it, which is great. I've connected with people I thought I'd never hear from again. Networking is great. Do it right and your business can make all kinds of new connections. You never know when a connection could lead to something, it happens all the time!

-Tony

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