When I consult with business owners on venturing into the the world of social networking and blogging, there is instantly this idea that the online world is like the deep dark depths of the Marianas Trench and once you jump in you will be swallowed up, never to be heard from by friends and family again.
The World Wide Web is a big place, with lots of interesting sites, resources, and tools that could honestly keep you busy for a lifetime. However, if you are focused and organized in what you do on the internet you will find that not only does the web offer limitless possibilities it is equally as abundant in rewards.
A few of the concerns I get are:
I don’t have enough to blog about?
I want to connect on a local level not a global?
How well does this whole Twitter/Facebook thing really work, will I get customers?
Let’s address each of these concerns….
What will I blog about?
First, not having enough material to populate a blog, if you are passionate about your work, want to help people, you like to learn, and you like to share your knowledge you will never lack for content. The only thing we need to do is make sure that you have the resources in front of you to generate ideas. You should be that watching and/or researching what people are saying about your industry and/or company so you know what your target market wants information on. To bring targeted information in an organized manner you need to setup systems. That is where Google Reader, Google Alerts, Twitter Search, LinkedIn Answers, and other news aggregator sites come in. Here is a video on setting up some of these information gathering resources.
I want to connect with individuals and businesses in my community.
If your focus is your local market then when you write your blog posts and build your social networks it is important to target that demographic. Here are few links to show you that the people you want to get in front of are online.
The majority of Twitter users are 35-to-44-yrs old, over 50% are from California. http://awurl.com/36ca8RC07
How do you Innovate Your Way out of a Rut in Customer Service? | Customer Conversation | Fast Company http://bit.ly/13aD7
Now getting people to contact you, one of the best ways to do that is by being out there where people will find you. Where are people at, where are they looking to find information and/or services?
49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats http://bit.ly/11jtu
- 70,000,000 – number of total videos on YouTube (March 2008)
- 100,000,000 – number of YouTube videos viewed per day (this stat from 2006)
- 112,486,327 – number of views the most viewed video on YouTube has (January, 2009)
- 346,000,000 – number of people globally who read blogs (comScore March 2008)
- 1,111,991,000 – number of Tweets to date (see an up to the minute count here)
- 3,000,000 – number of Tweets/day(March 2008) (from TechCrunch)
- 150,000,000 – number of active users on Facebook
- 170 – number of countries/territories that use Facebook
- 2,600,000,000 – number of minutes global users in aggregate spend on Facebook daily
- 100 – number of friends the average user has
Viral Content Sharing Survey Report http://tinyurl.com/6f2jhr
Should you go with a professional blog or just test out a blog first?
You can go either way but the ultimate goal is to build your business. The best way to do that is to show your professionalism, expertise, and client value proposition. A blog is the best way to impart those three things. Perception will be key here though, what message are you trying to send? If you are a professional that is trying to connect with people then you need to show that in your blog. I would not get into blogging as an experiment, that is a waste of time. Blogging and the use of social media is a cost effective means for marketing and communication, and should be used as a business tool.
In anything you do, if you are going to be successful, you can’t go into it halfheartedly.
In traditional networking you meet someone at an event and you get their attention for 3 minutes, maybe. Your time and influence are limited because there is no trust yet, they are also trying to sell their product or service, and there really isn’t a lot of time at an event to meet everyone you would like to. So you follow up with them; call, email, have coffee and then try to build that trust. A networking event may only be an hour or two but that does not include the followup, you will then spend at least an hour with each contact in your first followup session, and then time after that to continue to stay in front of them.
A website is great because they can go check out your company, it shows that you are part of an organization that is at the very least online, this gives you and your company some needed validity. What a website does not do is personalize your business, it doesn’t fully educate people on changes in your industry, and it does not create an atmosphere conducive to trust building.
Your biggest hurdle is that people do not understand that there is a need for your service, whether they are people or businesses that could refer you or those that could benefit from your consultation. You spend a great deal of time on sales, creating flyers, building rapport. If you looked at how much time you spend on educating and working with clients and how much time you spend on trying to sell yourself, I think you would find that you do not spend as much time at doing what you love, but rather more time trying to get the opportunity to do what you love.
A blog gives you a platform to share your knowledge, your passion for what you do, and to connect with people. When you meet people at a networking event and do not get that time that you would like to show them how important your services are you can send them to your blog and it will do it for you.
How will social networking help my business?
The following article lists some interesting facts for you to consider:
Can Your Business Survive Without Social Media? http://tinyurl.com/7nlpft
Coleman-Parkes Research discovered 84% of North American companies feel they require new methods to interact with customers, including Social Media and mobile devices
The 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study resulted in some impressive statistics which must be noted by business owners. The results from the survey showed 60% of American citizens used Social Media. Of those 93% indicated business should have a Social Media presence and 85% indicated businesses should interact via Social Networks with their customers. With powerful results such as these it is hard to comprehend why businesses are not implementing Social Media Marketing.
Consumers surveyed indicated businesses should use Social Media to:
· Solve Problems – 43%
· Obtain user feedback on product and services – 41%
· Enable consumers to interact with the company brand – 37%
· Market to consumers – 25%
Companies currently using Social Media reported the following:
· Improved Feedback 78%
· Improved Customer Satisfaction 66%
· Improved Customer support 71%
· Increased Sales 40%
· Improved public perception of company 75%
Within the survey completed for Avande were some general statements which must be considered:
· 52% of respondents stated “Companies that fail to embrace social media technologies for business purposes will be left behind ”
· 78% of respondents stated “As we enter a possible economic downturn we need to focus on new ways of communicating with customers which add real value.”
· 77% of respondents stated “If they did not initiate a Social Media Program Social Media would enter the company by stealth”
Ultimately this has got to work for you and your business, but make sure when you are looking at new ways to do business you are not limiting yourself because the path ahead is new or different. In business innovation is an important key to success. I’ll leave you with some quotes that I think apply to all of us out there trying to do business smarter, with integrity, and prosperously. From
One of the best ways to find inspiration in business is to take advice from people that have made it.
1. Goals are the first step to business success. Jim Rohn believes that “If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.”
2. Action should follow your goals. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.
3. Persistence is also important after your initial burst of action. “You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.” Brian Tracy
4. Good questions will keep you on the right track say Anthony Robbins.. “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
5. Change with your business or be left behind. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
6. Luck and timing will ensure success, so be prepared for luck. “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” Oprah Winfrey
7. Success comes when everyone profits. “I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well.” Alan Greenspan.