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Social Media – The Business Case

The scary term is “Social Media” – the actual meaning for me is “Community Building and Trust”.

If, like many people you have been dodging the SocMed bullet, I’m here to help you understand it, dispel the mystery and urge you to look seriously at the huge potential this phenomenon has for you as a business owner.

Let’s think back to basic historic business and remember what it used to be called: TRADE. If I wanted meat, I could trade my cabbages for your lamb chops. Business was simple – it was about (a) your word; (b) whether you arrived on time for the trade; and (c) whether your goods were “of quality” to ensure future trade. The things that could potentially scupper trade however was rumour; reputation and remissiveness (if that is a word!) By this I mean that your return business depended on happy returning customers and them referring you on to others.

This dependence forms the foundation of creating a community of people who love you and your business…and are happy to steer more ‘fans’ your way which in turn means more trade for you. Does that make sense? Yes! We have lost sight of how easy it can be to engage customers with truth; vitality; enthusiasm for our business; and the belief (and proof) that we can offer something great to them.

This, my readers, is the basic tenet of community building, a.k.a. Social Networking. The premise of Social Networking is that it is only one small part of a Social Media Strategy…which in turn is part and parcel of your overall marketing plan. Business planning can be complicated however it can also be pretty simple – if you don’t lose yourself in all the jargon. Stick to what our forefathers used to cherish as rudimentary to being thought highly of in their social and business communities: “Attract good customers, be good to them and deliver what you promise when you say you will.”

By sitting down and ‘listening’ to what Social Media has to offer – you will soon learn that it is in essence a FREE and hugely comprehensive business attraction tool that can mean a boost to your business’ bottom line. Please do take heart and know that I wouldn’t support this if I didn’t believe it works, but I am very strict about also advising that social networking and community building has to be done responsibly and with a clear focus on message, audience and content. No-one wants to collect more spam – so don’t be a spam spewer!

For franchised and non-franchised businesses Social Media represents an ideal way to not only build a national brand and listening for your product/service; but also an opportunity to connect with the local (and international) community and drive customers to your website and/or business door.

With Twitter, you attract ‘followers’ and with Facebook Pages you attract ‘fans’ – these people become your prospective lead generators and/or customers. Consider that each fan or friend you attract may have 200 to 300 friends (on average) and if they like what you have to say they will very easily pass a link on to their friend base. It is obvious what the ramifications are: exponential exposure to an ever growing audience.

Be smart: review your offering, see where you can take advantage of having a captive audience and tap into this new way of doing business – which isn’t really very NEW, so much as the re-invention of an old lamb vs. cabbage trade situation…but online.

If you would like to have your finger on what is going on in the world of Social Media, here are some resources you may find useful to follow:  Social Media ExaminerMashable

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Social Media – the Way Business is Going

I subscribe to some key chaps that I get inspiration from. Today I got this post from Guy Kawasaki’s blog where he alerted his readers to an article written about how Barack Obama strategised his presidential campaign making use of social media. Click here to read it.

I was blown away by the stats in this article written by Edelman. I would say to you just pay attention to what went on and what was made possible in the space of time it was done.

I know that I am working myself towards engineering my own business to work the way business will be working in 10 years time. Its frustrating in that you always need to think ahead in terms of the way businesses are going – but I do think that there are a lot of business owners (including franchisors) who really have to pull their finger out and get on top of business models of the future. And that, my friends, includes mastering Social Media and Networking.

Long gone are the days of it needing to take thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours to get recognition and target a specific market. Competition is rife now especially for the uneucated and uninformed business owner out there.

Make sure you find out today if there is something you are missing out on. We will be left behind if we don’t! I have been fighting the onslaught of the Blackberry…but since Barack has one and plainly uses one….hell….maybe I should!