It's not enough to use social media: it's knowing how to use it effectively

Imagine you are at a large cocktail party with potential clients or customers. While everyone is enjoying the evening, you are working the room to find those you want. Which communication strategy do YOU think will be more effective? You can go from person to person and give your “elevator pitch”, while giving your business cards. Engaging in honest conversations about current issues and topics relevant to your expertise.

You’ll find the former is far more appealing when you meet new people at cocktail parties and conversing on social media. This concept was taught to me by David Meerman Scott (social media guru and #1 bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR ), when I interviewed him a few decades ago.

Although Social Networking was founded without commercial intent, many businesses are now using it as a way to make money. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being influenced by commercial concerns. The social network is smm used by people as a part of their social life, with the commercial aspect being very minor.

Companies that succeed with SMM realize that social media is the first word. How they “socialize”, is key. Their status updates and tweets are not commercial. They provide information and interesting tidbits related to their expertise, but they don’t push a sales message. Social Media Marketing is interactive. This means that people can respond to your tweets or blogs in a public forum. Someone tweeting how upset they feel about American Idol’s decision to remove their favorite contestant from the show will get feedback from others who might agree or disagree. This is also true for commercial tweets. You invite criticism and fair comment if you post something about yourself or your company. Social networking sites aren’t your personal Web site, and you can edit the content. You could end up getting a lot negative chatter in response to your business outreach if you don’t be careful.

Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common pitfalls in SMM.

Do not sell – Most people use social networking sites to connect with their friends and family. Tweeting that people should purchase your book, which just came out, is a negative response. This is not a Tupperware party in which people are expected buy your products. It could lead to you losing friends and followers if you treat it like that.

Inform and entertain – Your company and you will be more popular if people use social media to share information and even entertain. Let’s suppose you have a scuba shop and want to make these sites work for you. Do not tweet about scuba gear sales. Instead, tweet the conditions for boating and diving for the weekend and link to your website or blog for more information. Divers will use this information to decide if they want to dive on that weekend. Many may also need supplies. They will now recognize your shop as a valuable resource and be more likely to stop in to refill their oxygen tanks before they leave for their trip.

Respect the Culture – Social media culture is similar to an Internet forum or messageboard. Although the delivery mechanism is similar, many people engage in serious and lively debate. So think of ways you can engage others in those discussions without being negative. It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid saying it in public at social events. Your updates should be useful, informative, and neutral. Respecting others will be a sign of respect.

This Is Not A Numbers Game – Tweeting five times per day with new information is not an effective way to get a response. Limit the number of communications you send, depending on which groups you belong. Instead of focusing on the quantity of communication, focus on the quality.

Capture your Audience Providing quality information to your followers and friends can make them want more. You can give them the opportunity to receive it by creating a newsletter or blog they can sign up for. You can maintain a relationship with them so they remember you when they’re ready to purchase what you have to sell.