I am often asked by clients what social media is an how they should be using it. I’ll start by giving a good definition for what social media is which will then make it easy to see how it should be used.
The best way to understand social media is to properly define it. Starting with the two words social and media we get the following:
Social as an adjective is used to indicate that something has to do with or is dedicated to or has the quality of friendly companionship or interactions. Thus a social club would be a club where people get together to meet and create or reinforce friendships.
Media as a noun is a means of communication. The radio media is a means of communicating via the radio system where stations broadcast sound over radio waves to be received by radio receivers and heard by people.
Social media is a means of communication to establish or reinforce friendly relations.
I once had a survey done to find out how business owners found IT people to help with their business computer systems. The survey revealed that the majority of them simply asked their friends. This is of course commonly known as word of mouth marketing. My conclusion, based on the survey, was that I needed a lot of friends to be successful.
However making friends and staying connected with all the friends I have made over the years can be daunting. Because I have lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia and have traveled and met people throughout the world, it can be tough to maintain friendships. Even with people I meet in my home town it is tough to stay in touch due to the time involved in running a business and raising a family.
Enter computers, the Internet and web sites like Facebook. With the click of a button I can let all of my friends know what I am up to and share pictures of my life. At the same time in about 15 minutes I can see what my friends are doing and view pictures of their lives. I know who might be getting married or who just had a child. I can communicate with them and have discussions that I wouldn’t have been able to if I had to call them or meet with them for dinner.
Basically social media makes me more productive at creating and having friends!
And lets face it, given two relatively equal options most people would do business with their friends rather than a stranger. I know that if I need car insurance and knew one of my friends sells car insurance I would give them the business.
Now before someone might get the idea that they should get on Facebook, friend as many people as possible and then use their status updates to constantly try and sell their friends – that would actually be a gross misuse of social media. How often would you hang out with someone who all you knew about them was what they were trying to sell you? As a matter of fact you would hardly consider that person a friend.
On the other hand imagine someone who shares their opinions with you, pays attention to what you are doing and takes an interest in your life. Even if it is just to admire a photo you shared or argue with you about a movie review you posted. It is fun and they have taken an interest in you and shared some of themselves.
So how does Facebook help you in your business endeavors? By giving you a great tool create and stay in touch with friends.
Now there are effective ways to set up your business in Facebook and use it to directly get sales or leads but it is all built on a solid foundation of friends.
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