Like it or not, we live in an age where social media plays a huge part in both our personal and professional lives. A simple two seconds could seemingly tell you everything you need to know about how to use social media as a tool to enhance your business, but after reading three or four pages of the same “direct your basic content at your clients’ demographic” advice, you will probably have zoned out mentally, or maybe even literally by clicking some page-side link to an interesting and very relevant article. So rather than repeating what everybody is clambering over each other to tell you, let’s focus on what nobody is telling you about enhancing your business through social media.
As it evolves, so do we – and not the other way round
Social media is one of those things that we, as a nation, have become so immersed in that it’s difficult to remember a time when we weren’t retweeting the link to our favourite Facebook page in one hand whilst furiously updating our LinkedIn with the other. The long-distant thought of not being constantly surrounded by some kind of cloud makes us feel positively lonely. However, it is sobering to realise that our darling “Like” button was added to Facebook less than six years ago. We must remember that these tools that hold the power of dramatically escalating the success of our businesses are still in their fledgling phases. It’s important to not only research and use the platforms that we have come to see as the “usual” business domains (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest…) but also to actively search and experiment with up and coming social media programmes. Innovation is the name of the game in the world of online media and marketing, don’t get left behind.
It is not a 9-5 tool
There is a certain fluidity with online media that doesn’t seem to exist in many other areas of work. Yes, some of us may go home and strategically ignore calls from any number that might make us do stuff outside the hours of 9am to 5pm, but it is genuinely hard to resist that little blue Facebook icon which will transport us into a world of our friends and what’s going on in their lives. Like Quasimodo in a Notre Dame of social media obscurity, we can keep up-to-date on birthdays, new members of the family or that guy you met once outside a club at University fourteen years ago. There are even studies into whether or not the separation anxiety we feel when we realise we have left our phone at home is more than frustration at being forgetful. It is undeniable that social media allows us to connect immediately with whoever we want, wherever and whenever. In terms of business, though we can turn off our computers as we leave the office at 5pm on a Friday afternoon, we definitely cannot turn off the internet too. Something will always be happening that is of interest to your business. If you are serious about maximising this tool, why not delegate a little time at the weekend (or even one LinkedIn update/tweet per employee in your office) to keep your company up to speed on relevant issues and in the discussion arena?
See a “brand voice” as a choir rather than a solo
Browsing through the Telegraph this morning on my laptop, I stopped off after reading about the Greek economy on their “Weird news” tab. I know learning about live ants being served as some kind of horrific Japanese tapas isn’t necessarily going to heighten my performance at work in the same way that keeping on top of the news will, but the comic relief is nice before I launch into compiling a report on client coverage. The extra tab itself adds another dimension to the newspaper – one that says, “We can educate AND amuse you”. In the same way, having a unified, umbrella “brand” upheld by a number of individuals adds more dimensions to your business. Not only can the company be constantly contactable and boast different areas of expertise, but having a few people representing you also broadens your social media horizons in terms of accruing followers and, subsequently, business. There is little to no point using social media to spread awareness of a small to medium sized business if you are not interacting. And more profiles = more interactions. Try exploring the use of forums and discussions from a number of perspectives within your business. See the fight for public and client interest as a war, you want to attack on as many fronts as you can.
Bear in mind that social media can work for or against you
Say we were to imagine a set of scales that solely measured public interest. Stay with me on this one. Onto these scales we place, on the right side, interesting information about your business and your clients, and then, on the left, interesting information about your haziest nights out on holiday last summer. Which weighs more? Embrace the invention of privacy settings!
And finally, don’t let yourself forget that social media is enjoyable
Would you prefer an afternoon on Excel or an afternoon working on your social media marketing? Exactly. We are lucky to have a tool at our disposal that allows us to join in on discussions, share interests and promote our businesses in e-places of like-minded people. Of course it is important to add personal touches to your business accounts in order to make them more human and approachable. You are in control of who you follow, what you favourite and what you retweet. It’s not a crime to repost something that will amuse your followers (within reason), nor is it advisable to create an austere brand voice that nobody takes a true interest in. Focus on making someone “follow” you out of interest and not as a chore.