What is social media? I know this may be a strange question to ask in 2012, but the truth is that the more businesses that get involved in using social media, the more blunders I see. In order to understand what social media is not, we must first recognize what it is (paying particular attention to the bolded phrases).
“Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue between organizations, communities and individuals. Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking.
“Businesses may refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value. People obtain information, education, news and other data from electronic media and print media.
“Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television and film. They are relatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information, compared to industrial media, which generally require significant resources to publish information.”
One of the biggest draws to using social media is that it gives us an opportunity to network with others who, under other “old-school” circumstance, we’d never meet. In other words, how many people are you connected with that you’d never meet otherwise?
In social media (just like in life), however, how you are viewed goes a long way toward building your “know, like and trust” with others – and sustaining your credibility. If you are not using social media in the right fashion, you could actually be harming your business – not helping it. There are a few missteps I see home builders and contractors making when it comes to social media.
What Social Media Is Not #1: It’s all about you! Just like other marketing, you should always be answering this consumer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” by showing the BENEFITS of being connected with you. Don’t just post or tweet about you and promoting your business. It comes across as sales-y, pushy, and it will instantly turn people away from your business. Instead, figure out what information you can share with your followers to make them even more loyal to your business.
What Social Media Is Not #2: Posting useless information. To extend #1, one of my favorite social media remodelers, Burgin Construction, is insanely good at posting a nice mix of materials throughout the day/week (depending on the platform). Here’s one of her recent posts on Facebook:
What Social Media Is Not #3: Building a wall and becoming closed off. Now that you are meeting people via social media, are you friendly and helpful? How many of their posts and tweets do you share with your community?
You may think it is strange of me to promote another marketer’s seminar when we practically serve the same community (Central PA), but I did. Why? Because the seminar sounded like good information that my readers can benefit from.
I don’t have a seminar on the books for this topic (yet), but when I do, I know there will be others (perhaps even her) who will share the information with their readers. In fact, one of the ways my Social Media Content Warehouse has grown is because of people (subscribers and others) sharing this with their fans, friends and followers. Don’t be closed off. Share.
What Social Media Is Not #4: Having one-sided relationships. When someone takes the time to write on your business’ wall, send you a tweet or comment on your blog, do you respond to it or ignore it? Social media is about interacting with others – so interact!
Does it always have to be business related? As you can see from the Burgin Construction example, absolutely not! In fact, some of the best ways to interact with others is by posting something not related (or only vaguely related) to business. Here are four examples from yesterday:
So brainstorm a bit and get (and keep) the conversation rollin’!
What Social Media Is Not #5: Being rude and not minding your manners. Do you say thank you? If someone retweets (RT) your tweet on Twitter (say that 5x fast!), or includes your content in their “daily” paper, do you say thank you? Our parents (and grandparents) taught us to say please and thank you. It is important that you do so often in social media, too. More often than not, this is their way of holding the door open for you. And you’d say thank you to a stranger that did that, right?
Social media is a way to connect with people. If any of these missteps sounded familiar, you may want to “renovate” your social media action plan so that you can build stronger online relationships and increase your “know, like and trust” factors, too.