Does it surprise you when you see a friend or coworker post a question asking if someone knows a plumber? With the entire craze about social media, growing a business through word of mouth has certainly changed. The new word of mouth is social media. And more and more small business owners and managers are catching on, albeit slowly. It still amazes how many of small business owners don’t understand how to budget for social media advertising or how to include social media in their marketing plan.
There is certainly enough controversy out there about how social media is a waste of time. But then you have to think about all that time you spend on networking, public relations, advertising, etc. As a small business owner, your resources are limited. Social media is mostly one resource – time. And it is time that can get your message across to millions of people or hundreds in your circle, depending on how you use it. Using it requires a new way of thinking and a new way of branding. The new word of mouth might be in a blog, post, 140 character tweet, or a combination of these.
You have probably heard and may have even seen what happens when someone online posts about his or her fabulous night out on the town. The continuous, frivolous banter online is a waste of time and can destroy someone’s reputation. So can the use of crude, vulgar or otherwise disgusting language. That is when you learn to unfriend or unfollow someone. You choose. You can waste your time catching up on all the gossip and adding to the banter. But when someone provides good resources like information on a blog, suggestions on referrals, or otherwise interest you, you can build a lasting relationship. And that is not a waste of time. That is networking.
When you learn to trust someone’s resources on social media, this is power to them. When someone learns to trust your resources on social media, this is power to you. Or in the case as we mentioned above when someone posts continuous, frivolous banter, this is also power to you. Many recruiters have caught on to the power of watching people’s habits and conversations online. And companies can use this same power to watch what is being said about them. Social media is all about what you know, who you know and how you use the information.
Information. Interest. Friending. Communication. What are you looking to use social media for? If a friend didn’t know of a plumber and was not on Facebook, Twitter or another social media site to ask the question, he or she would have had to find another way to get a plumber. Even on a social media site, she could have used the search option. And that is when the noise sometimes prevails. Spam. It is noise when people use social media with only one sight, on money. And most people can spot it immediately as spam. It is when a company fills up their social networks with unwanted solicitation. If your online marketing plan involves spamming people on social media with noise, then you are wasting your time.
Just like with the old fashion word of mouth networking, the new word of mouth networking online gives you the tools to get whatever it is you are looking for. It also allows you to give to others. And that is a good use of your time. You just have to understand that it might need to be done differently. Your marketing plan should consider how you can build the relationship so you are the one someone thinks of for word of mouth networking or when directly connecting with you. Social media is permission based. What permission are people giving to you when they connect online? What can you give that they and others will want? And how can you use social media to give it?