By now, it’s no secret that virtually every internet marketing expert is recommending that businesses use social networking sites as marketing tools. I’ve heard this for a few years that it’s important to “friend”, “tweet”, “digg”, “linked-in”, and “buzz” etc… But why?
My friends and my customers aren’t always in the same circle. The keyword here though is “social”. Many experts talk about humanizing the brand, well shouldn’t it be human already? Maybe multi-national corporations have image and humanity issues with their brands due to their size and ivory tower approaches. Maybe its because some people make the equation, that big business = corruption = British Petroleum. But the businesses that I work with and work for, are people-centered, social entities. They place great value on their relationships with both customers and vendors. Since relationships should be the biggest part of business, that’s where the socialization becomes relevant. You don’t have to have to go on vacation with your customers or discuss sales goals with your friends but there is a lot of room for stuff in the middle.
A long time ago, I heard that it’s wrong to discuss politics or religion with your customers. I find this so amusing because I’ve had some of the most informative and inspiring conversations on these topics with my customers. Obviously, you have to know your limits and respect has to be the most carefully observed boundary. Don’t go where you don’t belong. I’ve also had some incredibly empowering discussions with friends about my business or business in general. The bottom line is that we’re social creatures. I love what I do and I love my customers, so it’s easy for me to relate to them as friends and social equals. I always make it a point to get to know them as people. Some of my customers own their business and some are professionals working as employees, but they’re all people. What are my customers up to after 5pm (or 10pm), what are they doing with their free time. What are their interests, passions, missions, hobbies, needs, etc… That’s more important than anything else. We all know someone who lives to work, but 99% of us work to live.
Social networking is a way to communicate with our audience in a more informal way. Social networking does make organizations more human. It allows them the opportunity to truly listen, to gather information and feedback in a multi-dimensional way. Facebook in my opinion, is an awesome way to leverage your brand. When positioned properly, a facebook page or post is an open invitation for insight and review. Sure it can get traffic too, but the most critical element is the communication it generates. Social networking marketing can also serve to give an organization a more public or targeted voice. Other social networking sites are equally effective in their purpose of breaking down static walls of communication and just being real.
I use Digg, Linkedin, and Twitter to a small degree, but Facebook is my SN channel of choice. Does my business need Facebook to survive? No. Does my business need to stay on top of new marketing methods and adapt to changing business climate? Does my business need to be even more in touch with what my potential audience is doing? Oh yeah! Keep it simple, keep it real, and just listen to what is going on out there.
When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.
.– Wayne Dyer