Warning – Social Media May Kill Your Business

The title of this article may seem misleading, after all you have probably heard all the hype about social media. I am about to share a little secret with you:”If you FAIL to successfully utilize social media, your business will be destroyed by those who do.”In today’s fast-paced changing world all media is becoming social media. It’s almost impossible to find a new broadcaster who does not have a twitter or Facebook account. Most businesses are beginning to alter their perception of social media, it’s impossible to fully gloss over the impact social media is having in the world.Let’s dig deeper in why social media is important and what it really is? We’ll start with the term which consists of the words “social” and the word “media”. Now media is nothing new, media refers to images, articles, news casts, any kind of content that is audio, visual, or written. What IS new is the Social aspect.For a hundred years you could sit and listen or watch the news on TV or radio – depending on the era(pre / post television).Today is the first time that a news broadcaster can broadcast live to millions of viewers and respond to random listeners’ comments via Twitter or Facebook. It isn’t the media that’s important it’s the social.Now you may ask yourself: “That’s all fine and dandy for news media, but how’s it relative to my business?”.Let’s imagine a little scenario. Old world advertising models included you spending thousands of dollars on media(called adverts) to get customers to view your ad and purchase your product or service. The new media paradigm is about fostering real relationships with customers who can share their trust in your brand with their friends in a matter of minutes.Images, articles, and videos optimized for social networks can spread like wildfire from one person to the next and so on. Many businesses have rejected new media as something only relative to teenagers, and college ‘kids’. This isn’t the case though. New media may have started out with the youth via sites like MySpace and Facebook, but it’s grown up immensely.Fact: The fastest growing segment of the population joining Facebook isn’t young adults, it’s baby boomers. Many people from all walks of life now have a way of feeling part of something via their friend circles and their groups. Through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace an average Joe can reach out and network with celebrities, and company executives.Social media needs to be treated with grace and cannot be self-centered or ego-minded, it’s about opening up an opportunity to start a conversation with the community at large. Through social media you will be able to gather user opinions and feedback, interact, engage the customer, and then offer a proposal only after you’ve built trust.Social media is remarkable in it’s power to create brand ambassadors. Look at the apple fanatics on the internet, as an example. These are people who aren’t paid a dime, but they have a fondness for Apple that’s almost akin to religious fervor, and with the power of social media they can share that passion and fire and convert more souls to the church of Apple.In reality it makes sense, especially for big businesses. Throughout history customers have had the privilege of dealing with local business owners. They know them, go to school with them, socialize with each other at the local watering holes. Today that’s all changed, small businesses are being eat up by larger businesses, businesses that cannot offer that courting and relation-shipping that traditional small businesses afforded us. Customers want to know that they are being heard, that there’s a real person they can reach out to with their concerns.Social media gives the customer access to top people of a company. It doesn’t always even have to be the ceo, many will have a social media liaison who represents the company. This person in many cases is branded as the go-to guy for questions. One example is Matt Cutts who’s pretty much the question and answer guy for Google’s search engine.In closing to be successful you need to move away from the ‘look at me’ mindset, to the what can we do better mindset. Then when your customers do interact you need to take action and share updates with the social webs so that others with the same query may find the answers they’re looking for. In the end it will only build trust, and trust equals respect, and only when someone respects your company will they every buy from you.