Pittsburgh Technical Council

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS: THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS:  THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS

Article Published: February 13, 2015

By Dave Nelsen, Contributing Writer, @DaveNelsen

After leaving TalkShoe.com (a live podcasting service my team built – check it out) in 2009, I decided to write a book about how small and medium-sized businesses can most effectively use social media. By late 2012, I was speaking on this topic to more than 100 groups a year—all over the world—but had written virtually nothing.

A friend had just had his book published by Wiley & Sons, so I hired his editor, Bonnie Budzowski. Through her well-structured process and a lot of hard work, we finally got it done. My new book is called How Can I Capitalize on Social Media When My Kid Has to Program My DVR? - A Busy Executive’s Guide to New Tools No Business Can Afford to Ignore.

If there’s a rule about how many words you can use in a title, I apparently missed it.

And if your main question is, “What’s a DVR?” I have a different book that I recommend you read first. You can guess its title.

I founded TalkShoe way back in early 2005, and as such I’ve been on the inside of the social media revolution for about a decade now. Actually, I was into LinkedIn before that; member number 98,323 (of 350,000,000+).

Thinking back over the past decade, and especially about the 60,000 words that went into my book, I’m pondering a question: What are the three most important things I think you should know about social media?

Here’s what I’ve decided:

It’s not about you; it’s got to be about them. Think about it. If it’s not valuable and useful to your target audience, why would they devote their time and attention to you? Right! They won’t. So why are you pushing the same old marketing monologue? You’re wasting their time … and your resources.

Please, be brutally honest with yourself. What could you do that is genuinely valuable for them? It’s a hard question to answer, but if you can’t do so in a compelling way, don’t do social media. There, I said it.

By the way, if your products aren’t totally awesome, if your corporate culture isn’t incredible, and if your customer support isn’t just unbelievable, well those are three other reasons not to do social media. It’s a world of mouth where word gets around … fast!

I believe that the majority of the economic value of social networking will come not from external communication (read: marketing) but instead from internal applications. These are new tools that can improve communication among your employees. That could be the biggest potential benefit of all. Even small gains in employee collaboration could result in major improvements in profitability.

And that’s to say nothing about the improved recruiting results, longer employee retention, better product management, and enhanced customer service that can result from smart application of social networking tools.

Have you ever heard the saying that “None of us is as smart as all of us?” Participating in social networking makes everybody smarter. For most companies, there’s at least as much potential benefit in listening and in asking for input as there is in talking. You can get new product ideas, learn about competitors’ weaknesses, discover new sales opportunities, and know what your coworkers know.

If these benefits sound compelling and you’ve not yet immersed yourself in social media, I have a book to recommend (other than mine). In 2009, New Jersey wine retailer Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book called “Crush It!” It helps you understand what’s it’s like to immerse yourself in social media for business better than anything else I’ve ever read. Get the audio version if you can; it’s read by the author. It’s endlessly entertaining as Gary constantly goes off script, especially about wanting to buy the NY Jets. And I expect that he will someday. By the way, his company’s revenues have grown 10X in five years. That’s what social media can do!

Oh yeah, I have one other really important thought for you: Never leave your social networking services under the control of just one employee; always have at least two administrators. I can’t tell you how many times companies have lost control of their accounts due to employee turnover. It’s usually not a fun experience.

Starting with my next column (#43 and counting), I’m going to take a break from social media for a while. Instead, I’ll be writing about my favorite apps and mobile technology. If you’re still using a Blackberry, get a new smartphone before it’s published, otherwise you won’t be able to participate in that revolution either.

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