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I’ve learned some difficult lessons getting to know the ins and outs of social media networking. Like most businesspeople over forty (I’m way over 40), I am relatively new to this whole Twitter, Facebook and Digg, Delicious world. Be that as it may, I am still aware of some realities that you can well afford to heed, if you want to avoid the scar tissue I gained this past year and one half from my trip to the social media marketing pool of regret. What did I learn, you ask?
1. Social means social, and doesn’t mean Sell.
2. The largest number on these sites are Millennial’s on the internet, Tweeting, Facebooking and doing what people under thirty do most of the day.
3. It takes an incredible amount of time and energy to make an impact on these sites.
4. Staying attuned to the “right way and the wrong way” to use these sites isn’t easy.
Am I the only one in my age group that feels this way? I don’t think so, but I am often mistaken. The vast majority of people on social networking sites are under thirty; after all, didn’t college kids create them? Social media is so “casual and discipline free” that being a structured individual with military training, a corporate career foundation and years of being a leader in whatever I attempted; this casual approach confused me for a long time. Being a Ready-Fire-Aim sort of entrepreneur, I should have studied this new medium long before I got involved with it.
I recognized the upside potential to the use of these sites, but without prior knowledge, I stubbed my toe so to speak by blurting information that was not asked for, taking too much for granted, and eventually sawed off the limb I was stranded on through my own ignorance.
My initial objective was to gain market exposure and drive business toward my web sites. What it should have been was merely to develop a following of interested parties eager for my advice, products and services. Then, and only then, should I have “sold” to them.
What I could have done more of was conduct surveys, initiate meaningful dialogue and identify people’s real interests. By targeting audiences that may be important to me rather than conduct experiments would have saved a lot of time and energy. That way I could have gotten much better results than I had been getting.
I learned that social networks are receptive to gathering information that will eventually lead to a “sale”, but the focus is socialization, developing relationships with others of like mind and interest, and leaving the “selling” to other forums at their leisure, rather than be bombarded by pitches online.
What I learned most is that it is not a panacea; it takes more than a Tweet or a posting on someone’s wall to close a deal. Once I blended into the groups by contributing value, professionalism and rapport, it became less tenuous, but it still takes an inordinate amount of time to become proficient at it. There is no magic bullet, no quick fix, no secret formula. It takes time and effort to be accepted into the community, and it is easy to become ostracized and ignored.
It is well worth the time and energy it takes to become involved in the social media experience. With the help of a digital assistant, much of the information sharing can be performed without tying up your entire day. Go for Quality versus Quantity in any case.
Good & Happy Marketing!