I know I have been quite for a while. Honestly I really have not had too much to say. I’ve mostly been observing. I’ve been looking at the social media movement and how it is starting to permeate business and its industries. It is hard for me not to see it as it has edged its way into my work and personal life for better or worse. I have a FaceBook and LinkedIn account, I am on Meetup.com and part of several technology networking groups, and finally have a social prospecting account on Jigsaw.com. While talking to many other people it is easy to also notice how it is filling their work and personal lives as well.
To that end, let me explain that the position in my company is Business Development. Ultimately it is a strategic sales position that affords me the opportunity to perform the typical tasks of a sales person; prospect, meet, qualify, etc. But prospecting is getting harder. People are not picking up the phone, so cold calling is a rough method of getting your foot in the door. But wait, Now I have Facebook, LinkedIn, Meetup.com, and Jigsaw. WOW! Let me say this cold calling, fugetaboutit. Period. Social media, bring it on! Information on people is so readily available that if you are not using it, start today. Right now. Stop reading this blog and come back to it later after you have signed up for a few services. If you are using it. Good job.
So what does social media do for you? Well, first and foremost it keeps you from having to persuade the guy you are trying to reach to speak to you. He can speak to you or review your profile on his or her terms ad decide whether to make contact or not. You can reach out to him or her and it becomes more about community than “the approach.” It becomes a soft touch rather than a blind sided phone call…
Companies can do a lot of good for themselves by investing in social media. More than the above mentioned services, I am talking about companies that will enable services that will allow people (customers and employees) to interact online which give them the ability to create meaningful relationships that help to enable sales of that companies products and services thereby creating a longer term customer. Those companies ignoring social media today had better get their act together quickly. I forget where I heard the statistic (so take it with a grain of salt), but more than 60% of Fortune 500 companies are looking at implementing social networks both internally and outward facing the public in the next 12 months. That is more than 300 of the top businesses in the United States today. Don’t get upset, the barrier to entry is relatively inexpensive. There are several free services out there I will mention later in this article. First, lets look at some of the types social media that are available for the SMB/SME to take advantage of:
RSS: Really Simple Syndication (RSS for short) allows you to unofficially subscribe to information you want, and allows you to put your information out there for people to read. It will allow people to automatically get thenew blog post or news snippet from your company on their desktop without them having to take the time to come to your Website. In the reverse, it is a good way for you to keep tabs on competitors, prospects, and client businesses. This is a must. You should know about it, and you should know how to use it. Click on the RSS link to learn more now.
Blogging/Blogs/Video Blooging: Let me put it to you straight, whether or not you have a Website, you better be blogging about your business, customer, products, services, or industry. If this is the only Website you have, then so be it. I am here to tell you that people will find it, you can promote it, write it on a napkin, whatever. Just do it. Fact: Those who write are considered more credible.
It has been rumored that say that blogging will reach 45 million blogs soon. That is a lot of people with a lot to say. But most small or medium sized businesses neglect to write on. Heck, I’m going out on a limb to say that most SMBs and SMEs have people in their organizations who do not know what a blog is. Learn, quickly… First, a blog is a great way to disseminate information and “get the word out.” The best part, for the most part it is free. Second, if you have a Website, it is a great way to drive traffic to your Website. My friend John McKown owner of Delaware.net just wrote a great article about a presentation he made about a Website they built. If that does not drive credibility and kudos, I do not know what does.
One thing you should know, make sure your blog articles are not “me, me, me,” and that they are about your industry ad your business. Try to be objective an not too biased. Too biased and you may sway a potential customer away from you depending on your business.
As for video, you can easily add it to your Blog if you would like to. This takes a little more technical knowledge getting it from your video camera/device to your blog, but could be well worth it if you are a service based business. Video adds another element of interaction to your blog as well, keeping people there ad potentially driving revenue.
Oh, and finally be sure you can syndicate your content via RSS. Most blogging solutions can do this, but to be on the safe side, make sure.
Podcasting: I am sure you have heard of it. If you haven’t heard of podcasting by now, please take your head out of your shell and learn a little bit. If you are in business, this is another vehicle to help promote yourself as an expert in your field. Let me say it again; this is another vehicle to help promote yourself as an expert in your field. I personally subscribe to about 15 podcasts. They range to everything from Internet marketing, management practices, to cooking and diet. I listen to them on my daily commute, and I listen to them in the car when I am driving. All the podcasts I listen to are free of charge, and ultimately promote a business, but are full of useful information that I am interested in.
If you are in business you should be podcasting. You should take the time out of your weekly or monthly schedule to promote your business softly through your expertise. If you are a home builder, you should podcast about what pitfalls to avoid when building a home, where to spend your money, how to save money without X item in your home looking cheap, etc… At the end of the podcast and at the beginning, you plug your business a little bit. When they become loyal listeners, you become a trusted resource, and you may get a call in the future about whatever it is you were podcasting about. It is a soft way to sell your company and expertise without jumping into a sales pitch.
With respect to Podcasting, you need to educate your audience. Solve problems, interview customers you stole from your competitor ad have them tell a story about how you solved their problems. Just remember not to bash the competition. Educating is the soft strategy. Everyone wants to learn something from an expert, especially if they have a high interest in that niche or vertical.
Social Networks: As mentioned in the first paragraph I belong to several social networks. Join them. Learn about them. Encourage your colleagues and partners to join the. Their networks become yours broadening your prospect and resource base. I use at least two or three of them every day to track down new prospects and to create new relationships.
Social Networks for Business:
In conclusion, I do not yet have a podcast, but will soon be partnering with a colleague who I feel is one of the most intelligent consultants in the industry that we are in: Peter Radiziski. While we both server different ends of our industry, we believe in the same SMB/SME concepts. Why the podcast, well, frankly our prospects and customers are online. They have busy lives, and we feel this is a great way to reach them without intruding too often. Now this is what I call “new media.”