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3 Million Reasons To Make Social Media Your ‘Friend’

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If Facebook were a country, its 543-million users would make it the third biggest, in terms of population size, after China and India. Last week, around 14,000 South Africans signed up for Facebook, bringing the total number of South Africans who use ʻthe worldʼs most popular social networkʼ to 3,320,480. Thatʼs over 3-million reasons for your brand to start socialising and over 3-million reasons to make sure that you get Social Media right.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FlickR, blogging – there are endless combinations that you can use to engage with your customers and boost your brandʼs visibility, but before diving into cyberspace take note of the first rule of using Social Media for business: An effective Social Media campaign depends on the same core foundation that constitute a good business plan.

Before you start blogging, tweeting and making status updates part of your daily routine, you need to understand one thing – your online personality can make or break your brand. You need to pay as much attention to your online personality as you do your actual personality. If you woke up one morning and your significant other had morphed from a vegetarian, spinning enthusiast into a junk food devouring, couch potatoe, you wouldnʼt be impressed. The same applies to your customer base, itʼs not rocket science – people buy things from companies that they like, trust, remember or perceive as providing them with value. Passion always beats skill – exhibit passion in your subject matter and engagement will happen naturally.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Digital Socialites

  • Be Image-Conscious. A profile pic really is worth a thousand tweets. Your avatar and your profile bio form a major part of your social media personality and should be consistent across all the social platforms you use. If you think having a less than flattering passport photo is bad, a bad social avatar is far, far worse.
  • Be Authentic. Connect with people, encourage dialogue and be aware of opportunities to connect them with your business. Youʼd be careful not to make your dinner guests uncomfortable by dropping a social clanger halfway through the main course, the same caution should be exercised when typing your latest status update. Be authentic and use your best judgement.
  • Be A Long-Term Planner. Your social media personality will form a big part of your brandʼs legacy. What you tweet, post or blog about today should reinforce your brand tomorrow, next week and even next year. Think before you post – youʼre leaving an online legacy. Success with social media requires commitment, itʼs after youʼve left a comment on a wall or posted a blog post that the work begins, not ends.
  • Be Consistent. Leave the multiple personality disorders to the soap operas and B-list movie stars. You canʼt be an expert in the field of plumbing on one day and a celebrity publicist the next. Decide what you specialise in and stick to it, keeping the same personality across all social networks.
  • Be A Networker. Networks, groups or fan pages on Facebook are a great tool. Creating a group or a fan page gives you the ability to attract your ʻfansʼ, interact with existing customers and reach a much wider audience. Youʼll findʼ fansʼ you never knew you had!
  • Be Realistic. There is no point in boasting about something online, for example ʻgreat customer serviceʼ when the offline reality is that youʼre short staffed and having a bit of a service level meltdown. Making an online promise that you canʼt keep is Social Media suicide.
  • Be ROE Aware. Thereʼs no point in beating around the bush. A Social Media campaign hinges on Return of Engagement (ROE). Ask yourself whether or not your social media personality is working. Has it generated more business? Has it brought you opportunities that you wouldnʼt have gotten otherwise? If the answer to these questions is ʻnoʼ (or puts a blank expression on our face) then itʼs time to revise your strategy.

You know your brand better than anyone. Learn some of the social media fundamentals, study it, evaluate it, and then apply it – finding what works best for you.

Need a little inspiration? Take a leaf out of IBMʼs book –

When IBM decided that they wanted to start using blogs, they didnʼt just create one blog, they created an entire network. They opened the channels of communication and allowed their employees to write about what they were working on, their experiences or anything else that floated their boats. By capitalising on the intelligence of its employees, IBM not only gave the industry experts that theyʼd hired a voice and their consumers a ʻbehind the scenesʼ look, they highlighted the people behind the products – connecting IBM product users and IBM employees directly. Now thatʼs what I call harnessing the power of Social Media.