Why Your Potential Customers Want To See You Social Networking
It’s a burning question on small, medium, and large business minds while considering getting started with Social Media: What use can my company make out of Social Networking? After the proverbial, “Just do it!” wears out its usefulness, the question can easily spiral into a long winded investigation into best matching your marketing goals with your company’s current web 2.0 aptitude, with your bandwidth to spend time investing in social networking, with what you want to measure, with how to even measure it, with your website’s readiness to incorporate social media elements, and on and on and on.
Before rolling down that slippery slope, take a breath. It might be easier than it seems.
To a degree, this spiral of questions certainly deserves answers, or at least some initial pondering about what you want to get out of Social Media in the first place. But that core question might lead you to an easier answer if you turn it on your audience: What does my marketplace want out of Social Media and my potential activity therein? That answer is easy. They want useful information. Far more than looking for someone to spend money with, your audience uses social media to gain and share in information, insight, and the exchange of topic-specific content. Let that answer your question of how to make use of this space. Give your audience some useful content.
While setting up a Twitter account could offer the fastest way for you to start spouting off 140 character tidbits covering everything your business knows, developing a twitter persona that can artfully share topically relevant content in the world of micro-blogging can be harder than it seems. And the path toward getting that content found by your audience adds an extra level of complexity. When it comes to getting started down the path of sharing your industry specific knowledge as a resource with your potential customers, you might find that a traditional blog becomes the simplest way for you to step into the Social Media mix.
Do you know your space? Are you passionate about your industry? Do you find yourself in a position to educate and enlighten people curious about the subject matter you know? You’re ready to blog. From your reader’s perspective, a blog is nothing more than a rich source of topic-specific information, followed very much like a magazine subscription. It doesn’t matter how narrowly focused your subject matter is (in fact, often the more narrow the better), even if there’s only a small population of interested readers out there, they are *your* population. They can be people from within your industry, as well as consumers of your product or service. Don’t get hung up on that. Just share insights and open an exchange of information. This can be an ideal entrance into the space of Social Networking.
While we could also unravel a seemingly endless discussion about how best to market your blog so it reaches its audience and leads them down a path you want to measure, forget that for now. Write topic-specific content about what you know. Share some of your passion. Forget the marketing message. Be valued for the information you are willing to share. That’s what builds a solid audience of followers in Social Media. You have to be willing to do social media activities as much for the sake of others as you might think you are doing it for yourself.
Setting up a blog can be completely free. Whether you go to WordPress or Blogger, or some other plugin for your website, it doesn’t matter. I just encourage you to do it. Become a content producing part of your own Social Media experience. And without going down a path that could unravel into days of discussion, here are a few quick guidelines to getting started:
1: Plan out some topics to write about before you get started. Part of building an interested follower base that will keep coming back is going to require that you post to your blog regularly (a few times per week at least is recommended, in the beginning). Before you get started, brainstorm yourself a number of topics to make sure you have plenty of subject matter to write about.
2: Write some posts before launching the blog. It can be handy to have three to five blog posts ready to go after you turn on your blog. You can stagger out publishing these ready made posts over the first week or so. Because of the critical nature of the next point, you will do yourself a favor to see if you can draft out your first three to five posts before ever launching your blog online. In doing so, you should quickly gain a sense of how easy it will be for you to maintain a blog.
3: Don’t stop blogging. There is only one thing worse than not having a blog, and that’s starting one and letting it die. And this rule applies in all areas of Social Networking. You have to keep at it, and step two will help you test the waters before committing.
Don’t fret over whether you will be able to keep up with blogging. You can learn as you go. It really need not become an all consuming effort, unless as you are doing it, you begin to see how powerfully it is helping you build your business in other areas. That’s where a good blog sees its payoff – reaping the rewards for having taken the time to share useful content on a subject you know intimately, and seeing your audience of interested followers grow around you.
The rewards in Social Networking come from *doing* good Social Networking in the first place.