What is social media? Social media put plainly and simply is public conversations within established networks. These networks are made up of your friends, peers, colleagues, clients and potential clients. These networks or channels have various names such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn etc. Each is unique and useful in varying degrees to executive protection and security businesses.
Social media is different from traditional forms of print media in that you are not directly pushing your products and services, but rather engaging with your customers and clients by sharing your expertise, knowledge, and experience and establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. As a result, people will be more willing to use your products and services and trust other businesses you recommend.
Another way to think of social media is word of mouth marketing on steroids. Think of social media as customer cultivation. It is the only way to truly grow and prosper as a company. With social media, you are listening to customers’ needs and making sure you create viable solutions.
Social media can and should be thought of as an extension of your brand. In other words, you are branding yourself and your company through social media channels. If you don’t define what your brand is, others will define it for you. If you don’t establish your brand perceptions will be inaccurate – rightly or wrongly. Customers and clients will draw their own conclusions. Think about the impact on your business if you don’t control your own brand! Social media when used effectively show your credibility to current and potential clients and employers and creates a definition of your business and brand.
For example, if you are new to the EP industry and just graduated from a top-tier training facility and looking for employment. The first thing a recruiter or job interviewer does when they receive your résumé is looking for information about you on the internet. Recruiters will get as much information on you as possible. They will look at your Facebook page and if there are compromising pictures, derogatory status updates about your work, friends or family it doesn’t matter what is on your résumé. On the other hand, if you are managing your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts effectively personally and professionally chances are your resume will slide up to the top of the list.
Simply put, social media is important because it allows you to manage your brand, communicate directly with your customers and clients, and establish yourself as a subject matter expert and put yourself ahead of your competition.
Here’s what you need to know about social media – plain and simple.
- Social media is a tool – a means to an end. The end being whatever goals you set to achieve using social media.
- Listen. Yeah, yeah I know, every so-called social media “expert” says listen, but what does that mean? What it means is find out where your potential clients are hanging their virtual hats and what are they saying/talking about as it relates to your services and products.
- Act. Use social media to converse, interact with potential customers, colleagues, and clients. Share your expertise, knowledge, skills; market your services and products in a meaningful way. Build relationships with like-minded individuals.
- You don’t have to use every social media network ever known. If you find in Step 2 that potential clients are hanging out and chatting with LinkedIn and Facebook groups, then don’t also focus your energy on Twitter and YouTube. However, your brand should be listed, posted, represented etc. in as many networks as possible, but what isn’t possible is for you to divide your time and develop meaningful relationships in every social network. Fish where the fish are and monitor the other networks for potential “nibbles.”
- Grow in the social media space at your own pace. You will not become socially known to others in your niche overnight. Don’t be discouraged that only a few friends and family members engage with you initially. Becoming “known” in your niche takes time. Don’t be suckered into following everyone that follows you. Be strategic in your relationship building. You have to curate your brand and nurture relationships; share what makes you, you and the connections will come. Don’t get worked up over the number of followers, likes, circles, etc.
- You need a website. A website is a place where you can call home for your business. It has to reflect and communicate your brand. Have content that explains who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and most importantly, why you are different than your competitors. The design is important but there is no need to be too over the top. Make your website practical and useful for visitors.