As a digital strategist, it’s important to not only understand how to use social media for business, but also to understand pain points when business people go to use it for the first time. Just watching and helping a client struggle with learning how to use social media offers a lot of great insights.
The greatest hurdle is just understanding what exactly social media is and how it can be used for a specific business. Most of the examples of social media success are of large companies with agencies and marketing departments. Most are also consumer goods and many small and medium businesses either provide services or are B2B.
Since most of the power of social media for any business is in engaging customers and potential customers, knowing how to monitor for appropriate topics and keywords is vital. Also knowing when and how to respond when there is a conversation going on. If someone is having a problem, you don’t just want to swoop in with a product promotion.
Social media is not like traditional marketing or advertising. It’s not just about figuring out your promotion and message and finding the right audience. With social media, your audience can talk directly back to you and to each other. Many new Twitter users are amazed when they get the first response to something they tweet.
Knowing how and when to startup conversations using social media is a little like attending your first party as a teen. At first you’re just a wall flower, not knowing anyone and not knowing how to get a conversation started.
I’m working with my client to get started with blogging. He recently posted his first post and I had setup Google Reader for him to monitor things like his name and brand name and important keywords. Several minutes after he posted his post appeared in his Google reader feed. He was amazed. The fact that his post was almost instantly picked up by Google and showing up in the Google blog feed really brought home the power of the social web.
Just Try It
The second hardest part of social media is just getting started. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the best way to learn about social media is just to try it. Then ask for some feedback from some more knowledgeable folks. Ask for pointers on how to improve. Do some reading. As long as you keep trying and keep working at improving, you’re on the right path.
What do you think?
(photo by Hamed Saber)