02 Feb 1 Social Media in Business
I wonder what was in the minds of Mark Zuckerberg, his university friends and room mates when they thought up the idea of a website that Harvard students could interact with other students. In the space of just 14 years, 2004 – 2018 Social Media has revolutionised the way people interact.
Obviously, Zuckerberg and his cronies developed Facebook, but on the strength of their creation Social Media as a whole has taken over our lives. The power of it is phenomenal and like all ‘new inventions’ there will be a cycle of popularity. Social Media as the name implies is a medium to communicate but unlike the old Friends Reunited this goes further than family and friends. The cross over into business, sport, politics and even religion has changed the way we all announce our triumphs and emotional highs or lows.
How does this work for us in a small business community and what is the best medium to connect with the wider community?
I cannot possible cover all the different platforms available but have touched on the most common for a business community.
Linked-In has become a strong launch pad for individuals to connect to like-minded business contacts. The more contacts you have the more people you might reach when looking for business, or jobs. This is not a place to post your post party selfie, or what you gave your children for tea. This is a medium to celebrate your business life, to comment on articles, news, to network with others.
Pinterest is like a huge cork board where you literally pin ideas or posts from the internet. Your boards are visible to the wider audiences although like most social media there are private settings that you keep to yourself. Imagine a business where you are creating designs and colour boards, Pinterest would be a great medium for this, clients can interact and add to your boards.
Instagram is for sharing photos or videos. As the title implies it is instant and is usually run from an app on a smart phone. Great for Chefs telling the world of their creations, for Graphic Designers who constantly create beautiful visible designs. It is not always appropriate for every business. If you have a personal business where you are treating people or vulnerable adults and children this is not always an appropriate medium for your business. The other downside is the commitment to posting instantly.
Twitter is very popular in the business world. As we know the political world use it and it is a great medium for following up to date news but can also be profound and inspirational. It is designed for regular short messages. It is easy to follow people but more difficult to keep your message to just 240 characters. It means that tweets are very focused and direct but difficult to embrace emotion or sensitivity.
Facebook is probably the best-known medium. Again, regular posts are essential, but it is easy to share and become a member of a group which can be useful to your business. We are not talking about what you had for dinner last night or how well your child did at sports day. That said, sometimes it is good to get personal. If you or a member of staff have achieved something, raised money, passed the latest exams celebrate and tell the world. The key to Facebook business success is local profile, and a drip feed of the name.
What’s App is another social media platform, I include it here for information and inclusivity. This is far more an internal way of communicating, great for keeping groups or employees informed. Most big firms use their own pm (personal messaging) system and smaller firms by phone for those not in the office. For a wider instant messaging service for teams it can be useful.
All social media platforms run using algorithms and are regular changed or tightened so you do need to spend time with your chosen platform to understand it. Whatever medium you use the focus should be positivity and enhancement. It is important to interact, after all that is what social media is; an interaction tool. Regular posts, tweets, Instagram pictures etc… are essential if you want to use any form of communication. It is also very important to react to social media, liking or more importantly commenting and sharing on something that is relevant. Just having an account and posting once in a blue moon is not enough. This is now a business tool that is surpassing the ‘old school networking’ of our forefathers.
A word of caution; whatever medium you choose to use, these are all public forums and as such your words can be scrutinised and once out there they cannot be retracted. It can also become very time consuming and distractive. Discipline is required. Make a date with your social media calendar like you would any client. Book an hour a week to schedule posts and book 15 minutes morning and lunch time to check your account and comment on others. Then move on to your normal work. You will be amazed how it will raise your profile in the local community.
Gillingham Chamber has Facebook and Twitter and we would love to interact with you and share your successes and celebrations so please pop across and follow or join. Our member Vale Secretarial runs our social media for us and would be only to happy to promote your news if you contact the Chamber or them direct.