Embracing social media

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Lately, my email inbox has been flooded with invitations to networking opportunities around the topic of social media: Marketing groups are wondering how to use social media to enhance their client’s campaigns and reach younger markets. Small business groups are looking to social media to keep in touch with their client base. And graphic designers are contemplating their new role in providing a whole new suite of branded products for social media applications.

Attending these events, I’m discovering the following themes among the participants:

  • Resistance. “I just got a website after 14 years of having nothing! Why do I need to do more?”
  • Reluctant Acceptance. “Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn and have a Facebook account, but I really don’t get the Twitter thing.”
  • Integration. “Social media is just another part of my overall marketing strategy.”

When it comes to my business, I’m definitely in the “Integration” category; I use several forms of social media as different points of entry to reach my current network and extend my company to future contacts. Beyond my own marketing, I’d recommend embracing social media to my clients as well. Here’s why:

1) Staying top of mind. Applications like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace all allow for easy, constant updates about the work you’re doing, the events you’re attending, articles you’re reading, and specials you’re offering. So, when an opportunity does come up for someone to need your services, you’re the first person they consider.

2) Reaching younger audiences. A recent Star Tribune article (“Voice Mail Calls, But Do We Care?“) reported on the decline of voice mail as a mode of communication for younger professionals, who are instead turning to Twitter, Facebook, texting and email to keep in touch. The lesson? If your company is intending to reach younger audiences, you ought to be saavy in social media.

3) Increasing your search results/controlling your brand. Think about it. If someone does a web search for your company, wouldn’t you want the pages that come up to be ones that you’ve crafted with your brand images, your messages, and your products? Utilizing social media multiplies your search results, supporting your website with branded blogs, custom icons on Twitter, designed Facebook pages, and crafted LinkedIn profiles. Here’s a hot tip: check out the new Google Profiles page to control your search results: http://www.google.com/profiles.

4) And finally, integration. Consider that on average, a typical amount of time users spend at your website is from 1-3 minutes. Now consider that you get a blog. You update it with content and post the link on a Twitter update. Twitter followers click the link to your blog entry to read it, and while they’re there, they see a link to your website/LinkedIn Profile/Facebook page, etc. Maybe they visit your website and click a link to sign up for your e-newsletter. You’ve successfully kept people engaged with your business, and if you post again tomorrow, the process can begin again.

In closing, social media doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon, and smart businesses will embrace opportunities to use it intelligently to promote their business and stay in touch with their networks.

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