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9 Things to do Before Entering Social Media

You’re going to give this social media thing a solid chance. You’ve heard that social media delivers leads, connects you with customers and you’re confident that you can avoid falling victim to the many social media myths. All that’s left to do is create the accounts hop in.

Wait! Not so fast.

Before you enter in the world of social media, make sure you’re presenting your best possible face. Getting things in order before you take your first public steps will help customers trust your interactions and get things start on the right foot. You wouldn’t show up to your wedding without taking some time to primp, right?

Here are 9 things to do BEFORE you enter social media.

Create a rulebook: Before you step onto that field, memorize your plays. Study the channels you plan to use, listen to the conversation, understand the behavior and create your rulebook for how your company will engage. Identify how you’ll handle common support issues, the tone you’ll take, how you’ll address negativity, how fans will be rewarded, etc. Work up fake scenarios and create a plan for how you’ll deal with them. Look at issues competitors have had in social media and map out how you’ll do it better. The more you prepare, the better off you’ll be. Negative commenters are a lot less imitating when you have a plan for how you’ll convert them to your side.

Assign responsibility: Make it known who is going to be responsible for social media BEFORE everyone stands around looking at each other. Figure out things like:

Who will be responsible for creating the content, pushing it, talking to people, responding to questions, etc?
Who will implement any changes/issues discovered through social media?
How much time should this be taking from everyone’s day and is the number you just came up with realistic or did you just make it up?
Unless social media is someone’s responsibility, it’s no one’s responsibility.

Increase your customer support: When you open the social media floodgates, you’re creating a new channel for people to come and get help for issues they’re experiencing. You may need to increase your staff in order to handle that. If you’re a small business, that may mean rearranging your customer support system or, if you’re a little larger, it may mean adding actual bodies. Either way, you’re now going to have a live stream of people coming to you with questions, concerns and things they need fixed. You can’t ignore them. Put systems in place to handle the increases customer service tickets.

Fix your issues: You live in your business. You know that sometimes your service is flaky. You know the number one problem with your product. You know your most common complaints. Do your best to get these under control, or at least on the mend, before you enter social media. People aren’t going to suddenly stop noticing that you could be better just because you’re talking to them. Maybe start your social media effort by TALKING about all the things you’re looking to fix.

Shift your culture: There’s more to being a social company than simply creating a Twitter account. There needs to be an internal culture shift based on creating transparency and authenticity in what you’re doing. You need to be social from inside your organization out and that that may change how you deal with customers, how you treat your employees, and how daily job functions are performed. Make sure you address this before you suddenly have a spotlight on you.

Create content around common complaints: While you’re busy fixing your issues, you also want to create content on your site dedicated to solving, resolving and addressing your most common complaints or anything that may haunt you. By putting the information out there yourself, you give yourself somewhere to link to when issues arise and you also increase the transparency of your company . If you know that sometimes you get negative mentions over a business decision you made, create a page on your site that explains it. The more you can invite people into your company, the better. Answer your customers concerns before they even have them.

Commit to responding: You’re entering social media with the best intentions. You want to engage, to connect and to create real relationships with your customers. And that lasts for about, oh, two minutes after you come across your first online complaint. Don’t run away! Commit yourself (and your company) to responding to complaints and staying in the game. These mentions are why you’re here and addressing them is how you can provide the biggest value to your company. Don’t get scared away now.

Be ready to act: So, when people come to you with complaints or things they need fixed – you actually have to act on them. You can’t serve them platitudes on Facebook and then go back to business as usual offline. If you’re entering social media and inviting people into your organization, make sure you’re doing them justice by not only listening to what they’re saying, but making good on it, as well. If not, you’re going to give yourself a bigger online reputation management problem than had you just stayed away.

Clue in employees: The strongest brand advocates you have are your employees. They’re the people who live your
business every day and the power they have to influence customers and deliver your message is often underestimated. Make sure you clue employees to your new social strategy and let them know their role and how they can help the company. They want to get involved. They want the company to be the best it can be. Give them the power and the knowledge to do that.

By taking care of the items listed above BEFORE you enter the world of social media, you help to set your company off on the right foot. Ignore them and you may as well show up to your wedding still in your pajamas.

Source: Small Business Trends

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7 Essential Social Media Instincts Small Businesses Should Learn

May 04, 2010

In life we expect outgoing people to be better at tasks like networking or sales. We use terms like “extrovert” and “Type-A personality” to describe what many of us believe to be true about many of the people we work with… that seemingly natural parts of their personality make them ideal candidates to do certain types of jobs. Chances are as you have built your own small business, a part of any success you have had has come from your own natural abilities and skills.

The problem with how we think about our natural abilities (and those of others) is that it also forces us to consider that the exact opposite must be true as well. After all, if you can be naturally good at some things, surely you could be naturally bad at other things, right? And being naturally bad at something is a great excuse to just avoid doing something. If you’re “not good with numbers” then you get someone else to handle that. Or if you’re not a technology guy (or girl) then you can justify not investing in better systems to optimize your business.

This is just silly. Having an inherent ability certainly helps, but it is not a prerequisite – particularly when you consider social media. Many small business owners falsely believe that the more technical you are, the more readily you should be able to use social media. Actually, being good at using social media has very little to do with your technical ability. It does, however, require learning some basic principles and to some degree developing the right instincts. These are guiding principles that anyone who effectively uses social media already knows – but will dramatically help you to use social media like an expert, even if you still think

Java is a kind of coffee…

  1. Be conversational. The first and most important instinct to develop when it comes to social media can be surprisingly difficult for some, and that is to speak, write, and share content in your own real voice. This means using conversational language and writing as you would speak. Social media is rarely a place for marketing or legal type of language – so leave those for your important documents and get as real as you can whenever you post anything.
  2. Listen and respond consistently. It is often said that the basis of social media comes from listening. You insert any cliché here that you like about having twice as many ears as mouths… but the point is that through listening to what people are saying you will know what you need to respond to – particularly if someone posts a message about your business or industry and is seeking a response. The more often you respond, the more social credibility you can build for your organization as one that is listening and cares about the sentiment of the group.
  3. Proactively comment and share. Responding to questions that involve you or your business is the relatively easy part. More difficult is to consistently find reasons to proactively share a comment on a blog post or share content that you find relevant or interesting (particularly when it has nothing to do with your business).
  4. Use questions instead of statements. Open ended questions are a boon in social media, because they invite interaction. So instead of just posting statements of your thoughts or beliefs, how about turning them into questions and seeing who might have an interesting point of view to share. You’ll find this one shift makes a big difference in your level of engagement in the long term.
  5. Participate with those who share your passion. There are hundreds of thousands of niche groups on sites like Facebook and also independently created through blogs and sites like Ning.com. There are bound to be groups of people who are in your industry or perhaps even just share the same passions as you. Now there are ways to find them, and doing so can give you an instant community to belong to.
  6. Support online relationships with offline interactions. It would be a sad life if we could get everything we needed just from the web. Despite our advances in technology, there remains no substitute for knowing people in person, so whenever you can support anything you do with social media by going to a local event or meeting people, that would go a long way towards that.
  7. Invest in karma. The last piece of advice is around karma – or the idea that “what goes around comes around.” It has been talked about often when it comes to social media, but what most power users of social tools online know is that doing things to help people, sharing knowledge and generally being open to those who connect with you are all good things that pay off in an uncertain way at some point in the future.

There are likely other tips from social media power users on how to build your ability to succeed, but these 7 essentials should help you to get a good start.

Source: Open Forum

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Random Thoughts On Twitter & Social Media

It’s been about a year that i’ve been using social media on a consistent basis, and i’ve certainly had my moments – That said my interactions have been overall positive.  However today I briefly wanted to jot down down some of my thoughts that most people don’t like talking about.  If you’re new or “one dimensional” please keep an open mind…

  • Connecting: Social media isn’t the  connector we think it is.  Meaningless relationships on many social networking sites hold no value when translated into the real world.  Look for people who you’d like to meet in person, and who are genuinely interested in your stuff.
  • Volumes: Just like most business is about reaching the masses so is social media.  If you want to make it, target the masses.
  • Value: Twitter (in particular) fries your brain, I feel the more you tweet the more you lose your concentration.  Stick to about 5-10  value tweets a day, blog more if you want to participate positively and contribute value to the overall eco-sytsem.
  • User Base: If you’re looking to build your brand / name using social media  attract the normals, as opposed to the digital early adopters (or) influentials.
  • Men Behind The Curtain: Lot of social media is rigged by the men behind the curtain.  Just today i logged into an old Twitter account of mine and i was following people i had never seen before.  Guess what, they were all  verified Twitter accounts…
  • Noise: Who needs more than 10,000 followers?  I’d say who needs more than 1,000.
  • Information: Interesting information is the key to success.  Draw your fans in by posting informative content.  Not regurgitating other peoples stuff.
  • Sharing vs Over-Sharing: Don’t over-share, strike a healthy balance between your friends and your stuff.
  • Numbers / Metrics: It’s not about the  numbers, you’re setting yourself up for the trap if you think that’s what social media is all about.
  • Monetization: I’ve thought alot about this. We all like to share, but there comes a point when you think to yourself  ”Am i making any money spending so much time here?”  If you are, great!  If you aren’t try learning a new skill or building something awesome instead.
  • Ego: How much butt do i have to kiss to get noticed?  Alot, and what you have to ask yourself is “Is it worth it?”  If it is great!
  • How to get noticed quickly: Try getting to content before others (or) share strong opinions on your blog (and) bash news content for more visibility (also known as negative publicity).

Sometimes taking a different perspective can add a new dimension to you as an individual.   That’s what social media should be about, new dimensions, different perspectives and the willingness to embrace multiple strategies.

Source: Fluid New Media