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Business

Social Media and Your Business

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Building an Audience The true power of social media is in building an audience. As your audience grows you have a larger pool of people to market your goods and services to. Business get enamored with the millions upon millions of people that are flocking to social media sites. To often the thinking goes something like, “Here’s a built in audience. All I have to do is get in front of them and I’ll have all the business I can stand.” It is true that there are tons of folks on social media sites. And it is an excellent idea to get your business in front of as many people there as you can. The trouble is audiences on social media sites can be a bit fickle. Raw numbers of followers, fans or people who “Like” your Facebook page are usually not a great way to measure your success with social media. (The one thing those numbers are good for is stroking the ego of the person managing those accounts for you.) While harder to quantify, user engagement is a much more significant measure of success with social media. Because here’s the thing. Simply being in front of people does not turn them into your audience. Just look at how the word audience is defined.

  • Audience
  1. The group of spectators at a public event; listeners or viewers collectively, as in attendance at a theater or concert: The audience was respectful of the speaker’s opinion.
  2. The persons reached by a book, radio or television broadcast, etc.; public: Some works of music have a wide and varied audience.
  3. A regular public that manifests interest, support, enthusiasm, or the like; a following: Every art form has its audience.
  4. Opportunity to be heard; chance to speak to or before a person or group; a hearing.
  5. A formal interview with a sovereign, high officer of government, or other high-ranking person: an audience with the pope.
  6. The act of hearing, or attending to, words or sounds.
Notice that in order to call a group your audience they need to be “hearing or attending to words or sounds.”  So much of what businesses do on social media today is simply noise that no one is listening to. Web Publishing That’s why I see web publishing as the single most critical piece of any social media presence. More specifically I’m talking about content (i.e. articles, videos, photos, etc.) that is published on your own website, on your own domain, on a web hosting account that you pay for and control. Don’t get me wrong. Social media is a fantastic tool to make initial contact with people you might never reach any other way and connect them to your business. Social media can be the widest part of your marketing fulling that brings potential customers into your business. But there has to be something that you are connecting them to which is more compelling than a “me too” Facebook page. That something should be your main website. With the powerful web publishing tools out there today like WordPress, there is no reason any organization can’t build a powerfully engaging web presence at their main website that keeps people coming back over and over again. Besides, if your primary web marketing presence is a Facebook page then you are putting your organization’s online activity at the mercy of a monolithic company that is notorious for changing their rules on a whim, with no notice and no recourse. That’s a risky approach, to say the least! Website First, Social Media After Your first priority should be to build up your own website so that it becomes a strong healthy hive of activity on the web that’s centered around your organization. Once you have your website in place and starting to build an actual audience, you know the “attending to your words” kind, then when you start engaging social media sites like Facebook and Twitter you will see much more success. People will see that you have something worthwhile to say and will pay much closer attention. Not only that, but this approach will completely set your organization apart from the overwhelming majority of your competitors. But nearly all of them are still making the huge mistake of ignoring the power of web publishing. They go straight for big social media numbers with no plan to engage those passers-by and funnel them ever closer to paying customers. Be forewarned. This approach is one that starts off more slowly. In the end, though, it is far more effective and worth it. Budgetary Issues All too often, business owners make the mistake of thinking that a website is either too expensive, too hard to maintain or completely useless for their type of business. Let’s look at the latter of those mistakes first.  If you own a business, you need a website, especially if you operate a small business.  More and more people are using the internet to make purchasing decisions.  If you’re seeing a down-turn in your business, you may be blaming it totally on the economic recession.  That may or may not be true, depending on the product(s) or service(s) you offer. Do some research.  Find out what similar products and services are available to your customers via internet sites.  I can almost guarantee that, even if you operate a local handyman service, you’ll find your competition somewhere on the web. When you’re done with that, ask yourself if you need a website.  I believe that you’ll say “yes.” Let’s look at the expenses involved with operating a website.  You can do some research and find some really inexpensive hosting solutions, but you may not know possess the know-how to get started.  You’ll need to hire a person or firm to design your site, which could be, and I stress that – COULD BE – expensive. I encourage you to re-read the section above entitled “Web Publishing.”  There are tools – like WordPress, which is the backbone of this website – that EVERYONE can use to create an engaging and interactive website.  You’ll need a little bit of knowledge to operate your site and you’ll be publishing new content with ease. Wordpress and other “blogging” platforms like it are changing the face of the small business.  These platform offer free and paid templates that are relatively easy to customize (colors, graphics, layout, etc.) for someone who has some basic knowledge and there are plenty of ways to learn how to do it for those that don’t. You could actually have a website up and running for under $250 and be able to maintain the site yourself, no matter your skill level.  And that should push aside the thoughts about the difficulty in maintaining the site. Now that you’ve read all of this, ask yourself whether or not your business needs a website.  The answer is a most emphatic “YES!” I’ll be writing more on this subject later, but if you have questions about how easy it is, feel free to call me and discuss your options.  My number is 601-618-MISS (6477)]]]]> ]]>

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