It is a tough question to answer since there is no one-way to use social media to generate business.
Many businesses are quickly finding out they are far behind the curve in using social media. To keep from showing to their competitors and consumers (which is nearly everyone) they have a weakness they will quickly jump into the social spaces after reading a few blogs about how to use social media written by people who have not seen the light of the sun in over a decade, nor have worked for a real business that is not based on the internet. But more on that in another blog.
What They Say to Do Does Not Work
Many businesses are finding what they were told with how to use social media made them far too uncomfortable which leads to them deliver old school offline marketing techniques online.
I have been there..I have done that….and yes…it does not work.
However, from all of my many years of being out here in the social spaces I have found a few ways social media helps..or leads to…generating business.
Let’s tale a look at a few of the ways I have found businesses can use social media to generate business.
I’ll be the very first to admit everyone on the internet is a possible:
- Employee/Business Partner
- or ‘Time Bandit’
It is up to you to determine who the social media is reaching.
The hardest thing for business owners to understand is social media is, first, social and then, secondly, business. Yes, this goes against a business person’s instincts and purpose of being on the internet which is why there are so many businesses failing at using social media.
Businesses have to first find out from the many People, Places and Things (PPT) following them if they are who the business is attempting to attract. The bottomline is, the only way to find out is to visit with the PPT who are in your social space.
Yes, I know! For businesses who get hundreds of PPT’s interacting in their social spaces visiting with each of them takes time and again, the lack of effort by many businesses to not spend this time is exactly why they are not successful using social media.
So what is the solution?
Hire an experienced social community manager or designate someone in the company to learn how to be a full time community manager. You can try the other methods of only being presence online for a few minutes each day to post only content but it will never result in the business you can generate by spending the time needed to interact with the ‘rational’ members of your online communities.
A business with an interactive presence online makes a huge difference. That action validates to the consumer there are real people working at the company and who respect those who use the internet as being serious consumers.
Having a balanced digital footprint based on using a social platform like Google Plus where the content of the conversation is searchable will differentiate the business from their competitors who choose to forgo the expense associated with having a community manager and place those funds in a less profitable form of marketing.
There is a price tag on trustworthiness that is seemingly high, but what is the price tab placed on your product service if there is no consumer trust. Having a presence online is worth the investment.
Personal Special Deals
So, what are a couple of things that really work to generate business.
The Special Deal has always been the main producer of business. Offer a discount to those who interact with the business. That is what social media is all about.
Just posting a Groupon or a promotional ad does not come close to the results a business can achieve when being available to visit with consumers and giving them a special deal.
StoryTime: A few months ago a new guitar store open here in Dallas (I withhold their name because of positive legals reasons). I noticed the store because their post came up in my Google+ stream. Probably due to my posting articles on my love for guitars.
I responded to their G+ post and in a few minutes I got a ‘Thank You’ in the comment section from one of the store’s employees..not the sterile response from the guitar store G+ page. That kinda shocked to find someone who REALLY gets how social media should be used.
I carried on a conversation and in a few minutes I received a private notification with an invitation to stop by the store and check out my favorite guitar…custom made Fender Telecasters.
I figured..hey..their store is on the way home from the studio so I’ll stop by. I walked in and was greeted by a young lady who was carrying a table device. She asks if she could help. I mentioned to her that someone contacted me on Google+ inviting me to stop by and see their inventory of Fender Custom Shop Telecasters. Her response was…OH Yeah!..are you Mr Business Golf?
She was the person I was chatting with online. We chatted for a moment and then ushered me over to their Guitar techs explaining she had invited me to see their new Custom Shops. She left me with the tech and we entered a back room which was for me..a wannabe blues guitarist…was like walking into guitar heaven.
I’ll not bore you with all the details but to say..the experience of seeing the best of the best of guitars was impacting. So impacting that when I initially was just going to look around since the price tag on the guitar I wanted was way over my current budget..but…I did leave there spending a few hundred dollars on couple of accessories I needed for my home studio. This sale the guitar store made can be DIRECTLY associated to the young ladies effort for being present on Google+…so what was the ROI for her TIME? Do I need to say more?
Business Social Events
With Google now offering Events and the Google HangOuts there is really less of a reason why more businesses cannot develop their own offline events. Having both an online and offline presence at the same time..and even in the same space…can really be where a business can generate more leads.
Product or service demonstrations are perfect venues. This makes the Special Deal make even more sense.
Gotta Be Online
For a business today there is now just no way around not being on the internet. Having a robust digital footprint with full time coverage of all of the pertinent productive social spaces has got to become part of every business’ operations. Businesses have got to stop fighting social media and have someone experienced in all the ways to use social media set up the business’s digital marketing strategies. Just no way around it.
Let me know how I can help.