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Should your business be in the social media space?

March 29th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Kelley in Marketing | Sales

As a marketer, I’m often asked about social media and the role it plays for my company. Many business people I network with ask if it’s right for every business and how would a company know if they should be a part of the social world. The answer is never simple, so I often answer, “It depends.” I bring this up, because I was just asked this question at an event yesterday, so I thought maybe others would be interested in my two cents….if not, I won’t take it personally. 

For example, let’s create a hypothetical business: Ike’s Pet shop. Should Ike be in the social space? Well, that depends. What are Ike’s business goals? Does he want to reach a mass audience? Is that audience local, national or global? For argument’s sake, let’s say Ike only sells pets to the Maryland area. What kind of pets does Ike sell? Are they special breeds? Are they rescue animals? What’s the difference, you ask? Well, depending on who he’s trying to reach, Ike will want to have a look at what his target audience is doing. Are they online, are they Tweeting about their pets and wishing that their pets had brothers and sisters, or are they asking others in the Twittersphere about which special breed of dog is best for people with allergies? Social media is about listening and answering your potential customers, positioning yourself as the leading expert in that area (but only if you really are the expert). 

Advance takes pride in our knowledge of the industry, which is why you’ll find us on Twitter and LinkedIn tweeting and posting on subjects relevant to our customers. We blog about compliance, security and archival of documents for document management, and features and functions of MFPs. We’ll examine how different platforms and operating systems affect printing capabilities and what workarounds we’ve found.  Why do we take the position of industry expert on our blog and Twitter posts? Because that’s the strategy that best fit us. Back to the question at hand…how do you determine if your business should be on social media and how do you get started? I’m glad you asked. 

I’m on Facebook so I can see what’s happening with my friends and family. While I wish I had time to call each of them every night and chat about what was going on in each of their lives, I realistically just can’t do that. So I poke around on Facebook to see what they’ve openly shared with the world and check out new pics of my nieces and nephew. Sometimes I start a conversation with a simple post. Note that last word – conversation. It’s about being part of an online conversation. It’s less intrusive and allows those you converse with to share a thoughtful response through typed words.  It’s the same in business. Take LinkedIn for example. You can join a “Group” and be a part of that group’s conversations. This is where you can make a big impact on positioning yourself as an expert. You can share articles and make comments on them with your thoughts and opinions. This is a conversation. You’re not pushing your opinion on anyone; rather, you’re sharing thoughts and ideas with people who are already searching for opinions on that topic. Pretty powerful, right?  So take a look online and “stalk” some people who you’re trying to target. See if they’re conversing and if they are, decide if you want to join the conversation. If you do, you might just find yourself being referenced as the expert in your industry.

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