Surfing the Social Media Wave

04Oct12

The past month has seen The Naughty Gypsy empire change and grow. A big part of that change has been due to the implementation of multiple social media profiles and/or the renewed upkeep of old ones. Social media has many benefits, not just for the individual looking for some fun social contact, but for business of all sizes. Certainly in this day and age social media is essential to business growth. In particular for a small business it is an invaluable tool to help grow that business.

In my case I’m looking for networking and marketing for a very low (non-existent!) budget. This is where free social media sites come in handy. There are so many out there it’s hard to keep track of them all, not to mention how they interact with each other. It can also be a time-suck keeping track of , and updating, all the sites you’re involved in.

I’m not going to talk about the specific sites that we all know and love (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, etc.) as I think we’ve heard about them ad nauseam. But there are a few other things I’ve come across that I’d like to share…

The Boogie Board: Using Resources

Every social media site has their own help section and advice on how to use their particular resources. But how do you implement multiple sites and use them to the benefit of your business? Which sites are the best to use? What new sites are making the rounds and going head to head with the usual standards? There are a number of websites I’ve found helpful in answering these questions, but the most notable is Mashable.  Mashable is a fabulous site that teaches you about all aspects of social media. Without their valuable articles, advice, and ideas I’d still be lost on the Internet sea.

KnowEm is a great place to check the availability of your business name on hundreds of social networks as well as checking to see which domain names are taken or available. Take a look at the picture below.

Example of a business name search on KnowEM.

1. Search for your business name. 2. See which sites are taken and 3. which are still available.

You can see I searched for ‘thenaughtygypsy’ (1). KnowEM produced a list of the most popular social media sites which shows where ‘thenaughtygypsy’ profile name is still available or not available (2 & 3). It’s a good idea to review this regularly to ensure no one else in cyber-land is using your business name. In this case thenaughtygypsy is not available at WordPress. Good thing too! Otherwise I’d be wondering who was writing this post! But if you look at reddit, the name is still available, something I need to rectify. So far I haven’t come across an instance where my name has been taken by someone else. However, if that were to happen I could go directly to that particular social media site and put in a request to have the name released to me. As long as you can prove you’re the owner of the name there shouldn’t be a problem.

Learning to Surf: Navigating Through the Feedback

You know you’re doing something right when people start pitching to you. This week I was approached by a Hong Kong company looking for my business. That’s right, they want me to hire them! I received a  professional email outlining their services (clothing manufacturing), complete with a Power Point presentation portfolio. It was all very professional and their portfolio looked good. Of course, I realized I couldn’t use 880 Chinese people working away on a minimum of 500 pieces of clothing. But – and I say this while putting aside our Western view of China and Chinese factory workers right now – the point is that the contact has been made. The networking is alive and working.

Sifting through the contacts and using what is best for your business could easily be a whole other post! For now, try to read emails, proposals, etc. as they come in and deal with them right away so they don’t pile up. It’s helpful to have ready-made answers to common questions. You can use the note feature in Outlook or draft emails in Thunderbird to keep prepared responses handy. Then you can just copy and paste those responses into your reply.

As you get feedback it’s okay to use standard responses for some replies. For someone looking for a quote, I have a few standard responses depending on what type of service the client is looking for. The pricing information doesn’t change, the client and project do. Keep the pricing part the same and personalize the rest to the client. For the email from Hong Kong I sent a polite response thanking them for their interest but explaining I’m not looking for that type of service. If it’s a company I’d like to do business with but not at this time, I let them know that, and keep their email and information on hand for future use. These last two examples are standard responses I send.  If it’s junk or spam or even questionable don’t hesitate to get rid of it!

Waves crest, then crash: Downfalls of Social Media

The biggest – and most annoying – downfall I’ve noticed with current social media (especially the so called ‘hip’ social media sites) are the recycling of topics and stories, sometimes to the detriment of actual  newsworthy or interesting stories.

For example: while reviewing tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook there are often multiples of the exact same posting(s) and/or link(s). People say this is an advantage, as items are being re-tweeted which causes them to spread outward and hopefully go viral. In business this is a good thing. You want the word on your fabulous new product to spread. Going viral has distinct advantages such as in the case of small business growth, breaking news, great new products/websites, etc.. In circumstances such as gossip, boring or uninteresting news, etc. the opposite holds true. These items can be detrimental and only help you waste time. By relaying the same small fraction of newsworthy events, many other equally, or more worthy events go unnoticed.

It’s hard not to get pulled under by recycled posts. Thankfully there are things you can do to prevent receiving them. Block or unsubscribe to those sites or people who only share this kind of story. Sign up for newsletters or blogs that share the same interests, values, etc. as you and your business. I guarantee you’re not the only one looking for real stories and information to share.

There are too many sites out there. You can’t be involved in every single one. You’ll spend all your work time (and probably your personal time too!) just trying to keep everything up to date. Instead, focus on a small handful of sites that will give your business the exposure you want, while staying true to your business objective(s). And use the built-in features of each site to automatically update each other so you’re not updating each site manually. For example each week I write my blog post ahead of time and schedule it to post when I want it to, in my case every Thursday. Once the post is published, my Facebook fan page, Twitter account and LinkedIN profile are updated simultaneously without any extra effort from me. (It only takes a few minutes to link these sites. You do it once and it remains linked until you say otherwise). One little step saves time while getting your message out to as many people as possible.

Back on Land: Staying Grounded in the Viral World

Overall the past month has taught me a lot about social media, especially marketing and networking. While many social media sites are wonderful tools in these endeavours, there is also a lot to be weary of. It’s so easy to get bogged down by too many sites.

My advice? Use social media sites to your advantage, but in the process don’t lose track of what you and  your business stand for. And please, PLEASE don’t re-Tweet or forward links just because everyone else is, or because it’s today’s hot topic. Do it because it fits with your vision.

Have fun surfing!

Advertisements


No Responses Yet to “Surfing the Social Media Wave”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: