Social Media for Business: The Key Points

After leaving TalkShoe.com in 2009 (a free, live podcasting service my team and I built – check it out), I decided to write a book about how small and medium-size businesses can most effectively use social media. Fast forward five long years and my new book is called “How Can I Capitalize on Social Media When My Kid Has to Program My DVR – A Busy Executive’s Guide to New Tools No Business Can Afford to Ignore.”

If your main question is, “What’s a DVR?” I have a different book that I recommend you read first.

I founded TalkShoe way back in early 2005, and as such I’ve been on the inside the social media revolution for about a decade now. Actually, I was into LinkedIn even before that; member number 98,323 (of 400,000,000+ today).

Thinking back over the past decade, and especially about the 60,000 words that went into my book, I’m pondering a question: What are the three most important things I think you should know about social media?

Here’s what I’ve decided:

#1 – It’s not about you; it’s got to be about them. Think about it. If it’s not valuable and useful to your target audience, why would they devote their time and attention to you? Right! They won’t. So why are you pushing the same, old marketing monologue? You’re wasting their time … and your resources.

Please, be brutally honest with yourself. What could you do that is genuinely valuable for them? It’s a hard question to answer but if you can’t do so in a compelling way, don’t do social media. There, I said it.

By they way, if your products aren’t totally awesome, if your corporate culture isn’t incredible, and if your customer support isn’t just unbelievable, well those are three other reasons not to do social media. It’s a world of mouth where word gets around … fast!

#2 – I believe that the majority of the economic value of social networking will come not from external communication (read: marketing) but instead from internal applications. These are new tools that can improve communication among your employees. That could be the biggest potential benefit of all. Even small gains in employee collaboration could result in major improvements in profitability.

And that’s to say nothing about the improved recruiting results, longer employee retention, better product management, and enhanced customer service that can result from smart application of social networking tools.

#3 – Have you ever heard the saying that “None of us is as smart as all of us?” Participating in social networking makes everybody smarter. For most companies, there’s at least as much potential benefit in listening and in asking for input as there is in talking. You can get new product ideas, learn about competitors’ weaknesses, discover new sales opportunities, and know what your coworkers know.

If these benefits sound compelling and you’ve not yet plunged in social media, I have a book to recommend (other than mine). In 2009, New Jersey wine retailer Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book called “Crush It!” It helps you understand what’s it’s like to immerse yourself in social media for business better than anything else I’ve ever read. Get the audio version if you can; it’s read by the author. It’s endlessly entertaining as Gary constantly goes off script, especially about wanting to buy the NY Jets. And I expect that he will someday. By the way, his company’s revenues have grown 15X in ten years. That’s what social media can do!

Oh yeah, I have one other really important thought for you: Never leave your social networking services under the control of just one employee; always have at least two administrators. I can’t tell you how many times companies have lost control of their accounts due to one key employee’s departure. It’s not a fun experience.

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