We have had quite a few clients who have come in for Social Media Training and the biggest objective that I have heard is this, (paraphrasing) "I don't see how facebook or twitter can increase our sales." The second biggest objective is this (paraphrasing) "I am not comfortable sharing my personal information online for all the world to see."
I am going to answer both questions on this blog entry. Please allow me some leg room in explaining how social media has changed the landscape in which we do business.
How can Facebook or Twitter increase our Sales?
In an impromptu training session I drew a chart, which I have inserted here:
The broken line in the middle represents the changing time.
Below the line is the old way customers found your business. TV, Radio and Print were mediums we used for advertising and customers would either call us, fax us or email us to communicate their needs/requirements. There are other facets to advertising your business such as direct marketing but for the purpose of this discussion, I have made it as simple as possible.
Above the broken line is the new way that customers are now finding your business. The acronyms below represent the following:
FB = facebook
TW = twitter
YT = youtube
TA = tripadvisor.
And there are many more.
The circle in the middle represents you, the business owner.
What I love about this graphic representation (ehem) is that is shows the exact relationship of new media and old media to your business. In old media, the communication platform was separate from the advertising platform. Your business can place an ad on the newspaper and a prospective customer can either call you or email you for more information. There was no direct communication platform between the business owner and the customer.
Social media has changed that. You can "advertise" on your wall and customers can contact you directly without picking up a phone or opening an email server. The bonus side of social media is that if you know what you are doing, your business can and will succeed without breaking the bank. Now that is what is amazing about new media.
To answer the question completely, I needed to illustrate this relationship. Social Media increases sales because it is an enabling tool that acts as an interactive real-time communication platform between customers and business owners.
Not only does it make money for you, it also saves money on traditional advertising because it is a free medium. It is the amount of time that you are willing to put in it that will differentiate it as an effective tool or just something that you did because everyone else was doing it.
"I don't want my personal information available online"
Actually, neither do I. Who has the time to do social media and run a business at the same time? The learning curve of facebook alone will take some time getting use to. Knowing how to categorize your "friends" and understanding your privacy settings will not just take time but patience as well. Especially to Users who have shunned the Internet revolution. But I promise, once you get the hang of it, you will embrace it completely including the "personal" facet of it. My mother actually spends more time on facebook than I do and she is almost 70 years old. I honestly believe that if my mom can get the hang of it, so can anybody.
Once you "get to know" facebook, you will realize that you can completely separate your business page from your personal page.
The ability of social media to make sense of all this information is actually awe-inspiring.
There is already so much information out there that it would be redundant for me to write a blog about how to create things and how to do things.
Instead here is a summary of what you need to know to connect your business with facebook:
How to create Proper Facebook Business Page - whether its a business or an organization, here is a webpage from facebook thats lets you set it up properly and NOT as an individual
How to link Facebook and Twitter - for users who do not have time to update both social media, this tool will update your twitter feed everytime you update your facebook wall
How to create a proper Twitter Account - for the twitter newbie, here is an important resource
How to link your blog to Facebook - a page from mashable that includes all the blogging platforms. My blog is on blogger and everytime I update it, my facebook wall and twitter feeds are also updated.
How to enable Facebook Places on your blackberry - I wrote a previous blog about enabling facebook places to register your business.
Let me know if there is anything else you need to know by commenting on the fields below. We also offer social media training on Saturday mornings if you want hands on training. I hope this article was helpful in understanding and embracing social media. Thanks for reading!