Now this is a topic that I really understand from both sides. And I hang my head in shame at my earlier self.
I was you. The skeptic. Well not exactly skeptical, a big, “Oh no I don’t want to do that. It’s going to take up time I don’t have and frankly I can’t be bothered”. That was me.
I run a small business helping people sort out in general terms their stuff, including: IT, files, information overload, etc…( and now Social Media of course). I was busy flinging myself around at networking events, attending forums, scrounging for clients in every legal way I knew how and generally getting on with the whole ship load of activities it takes to run a small business. Where was I going to find the time to engage in Social Media and honestly were my prospective clients even there yet?
That was two years ago. So most of my clients weren’t there and I had yet to take the plunge. As a vastly over qualified information professional (yep. breaking my arm, patting myself on the back :-)), I was already spending far too much time in the ether, on the Internet – trawling through databases, compiling research for clients, filing electronically and even with paper. So I knew all about information and people.
Hand on heart I just didn’t want to learn anything new. I knew what I was doing and how it was supposed to work. Well time for one of those paradigm shifts. Horses and cart can still get you from place to place to. Even walking works if you have enough time. But now, the Pony Express is but a legend and a great film set but no one is seriously ever going to contemplate it’s revival as a viable form of transportation.
We have and must move on. So kicking and screaming (all right mild foot stomping) I leapt into Social Media and against my traditional judgement I found myself liking it very much.
Why? “Why such a quick and devoted convert,” I hear you ask. Easy, I love that Social Media is available to all and it brings the consumer back in control. For how long have we been sold at, talked down to and had our likes and dislikes dictated to us? With Social Media the product don’t get any better but the customer service comes back into play and it becomes about us and not about them.
As the owner and operator of a small business that puts my clients’ needs first, that’s what I like the most. Customer service counts again! Social Media doesn’t improve the product but it does improve your relationship with your client.
Social Media is a forum that works for businesses of all descriptions and budgets of all sizes. As long as you have someone (or yourself) who is devoted to establishing a cunning plan and will work diligently towards establishing an engaging long term relationship with their client base, then everyone has a chance of success.
If you are a sole trader, a micro-business, a small or medium business, you can use Social Media effectively in your marketing scheme. Through proper time management, effective strategizing, you can creating a personalized niche for your brand and you will find the clients you want and deserve.
You can’t afford to ignore Social Media, not now and definitely not in the future. Social Media is still relatively new and over the next year even more businesses will start taking advantage of the opportunities it has to offer. For your business, find a format that suits you and your marketing strategy and start making a name for yourself. You don’t have to compete with the granddaddies of branding but you can promote yourself in your little corner of the web and the world.
There are currently over 500 million Twitter accounts, a billion million people on Facebook and the professional social networking site LinkedIn reached over 100 million members last year. Your people are out there.
Start talking to them.