Businesses, get a social life

businesses and social mediaIf you want to do more business, it is good to get out there and network. Not only is this good for business development, it is also good for your career. This is because the more people you meet, the more chances there are to meet someone who needs your services.

While you don’t go to a business sundowner or breakfast expressly to sell your products, we all know that we can often do business simply by being present and then connecting, engaging and following up.

My view on social media is it is much like a networking event. Don’t go in there to sell, but by being present, connected and engaged, you will get business from it.

Facebook is by far the largest social network globally, and in Western Australia. 1.2 million West Australians have active monthly accounts, and 67% of them go in every day. That’s an online gathering of 800,000 WA people, which no WA business can ignore.

Wired Magazine recently released some figures on what sells on Facebook:

  • 70% of Facebook users follow brands because of special offers, 38% are there to shop, 38% follow events and 28% want to give feedback to brands.
  •  52% of users follow between 2 and 5 brands, 35% follow 5 to 10 and 13% follow more than 10
  • 25% of users have made a purchase directly from a brand’s Facebook page
  • 90% of all purchases are influenced by social media (yes, 90%!)
  • 60% of users have recommended a brand’s page to their friends

There are plenty of examples of businesses using Facebook well, and even attributing sales from their Facebook presence. Here’s just one I came across recently.

Calvin and his wife (they have two children aged 1 and 3) recently purchased a block of land in Landsdale and then set about trying to find a home builder. Calvin wanted to view a display home but as he was just too busy, he and his wife decided to look online instead.

When they did this they came across ‘Dale’s Blog’ (attached to a well known Perth home builder) and they liked that there were people like them sharing their stories and ‘build journeys’.

What then drew them to sign with the company was the advice they received when they posted questions or comments on the blog or company Facebook page. It helped humanize things for them and made a personal decision easier.

Their home is due for completion mid March 2014.

It’s not enough to just have a facebook page or a twitter account and point to it on your advertising and web site (“social media done!”). It’s about engagement. It’s about showing your clients, prospects and future employees that there is life behind the brand, a real beating heart.

Yes, this takes time, but with time you will learn what works and what does not. You will connect, and you will listen.

It also takes money, for although these platforms are mostly free to use, you need to appoint someone to coordinate the messages and keep the flow of information and engagement happening. There needs to be a strategy here, a reason for this to fit into your marketing, communications and plans.

I was in a well known hardware store the other day (my children refer to it as ‘Daddy’s supermarket’) and annoyed that they did not have enough people on the tills. I tweeted my annoyance directly at them from the queue. Later I found out their twitter account had but one tweet – pointing people to their web site. Opportunity lost. Imagine what they could do (education-wise, for example) with twitter if they just had the will and some imagination.

A few days later I am in a well known fast food outlet, and they have not put on enough people to service an increasingly grumpy line of customers. I tweet out my frustration again (hey, it helps me pass the time and keeps my stress levels under control). Within 5 minutes I have a reply from the company sympathizing with my plight, asking me to name the outlet and informing me they would be in contact with them, and me. The company was listening, and they turned what was a negative into a positive.

Ignoring the 800,000 West Australians who go on Facebook everyday is no longer an option. Likewise Twitter, and probably many other social media channels. No, you can’t do everything, but you have to do something, and by doing something, you might be amazed what can then happen.

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