When you run your own business, you’ve got things to do, products to launch and brilliant ideas to concoct. What you don’t have is free time to talk about trending topics with the strange people who roam the Internet.
It doesn’t matter if social networks are a good place to learn about consumers and get ideas about their needs and desires. It doesn’t matter if a large percentage of the world communicates via social networks. Your shop in Poughkeepsie can’t fit the entire world anyway.
You can be as social network-phobic as you want to be, but, these days, if you want to find customers, you’re going to have to bite the virtual bullet and create a social media presence. A large number of people spend time on social networking sites, including many people in your local area. Those strange Internet people already live amongst you, so you may as well connect with them online.
We tend to think of social media as a single entity, but it is a vast creature comprised of many smaller tech ecosystems necessary to its continued operation and survival. If the Internet is the body of that creature, the cloud is the brain.
The cloud enables the connection that we all enjoy on a daily, nightly, hourly basis in homes, public and schools. Facebook could not have swelled to the multibillion-dollar company it has become without acres of remote servers storing petabytes of photos that users could access from any connection. Without the cloud, our current society could not exist. Business owners are being left behind because “experts” continue to extoll the virtues of social media without actually describing how to use it correctly.
What’s really important is understanding how to use social media. Each site has a different personality and attracts a certain type of reader. Similarly, your business must line up its target demographic with those audiences. Here’s a quick personality rundown of a bouquet of social media sites to help you get started figuring out which ones you can vibe with and which you shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
If you’re scared of the social networking deep end, dip your toes in the shallow end of the pool. LinkedIn is geared toward making business connections, not online friends. It’s a good place to connect with other business owners in your area, or those who work in your field. You may even find others who’ve suffered social networking anxiety and can hold your hand as you build your network.
Google’s new Drive product is bringing free cloud storage to the masses, but Gmail was arguably one of the first cloud-based email clients. Google+ also uses the cloud to connect people, but in a more granular way. Case in point, the large cloud services provider Rackspace uses Google+ to connect with its own community.
Many of the first users of Google+ have been business owners. Since Google+ is Google-owned, when you create a Google+ page it ranks higher in the search results. This makes it easier for people to find you online, which is the service’s main marketing pitch to users who are into ranking high.
Google+ also has a reputation for attracting experts, so short posts about your business and the subjects in which you are knowledgeable can help you build up a network quickly.
As far as the most popular social networks go, though, Twitter is a good place to start your major social networking. You’ll still have to be nice, you’ll still have to be professional, but, since Twitter limits the length of posts, you’ll only have to be nice and professional 140 characters at a time. The potential user base is huge, but more often than not, people have to be looking for you in order to know you exist. Depending on your business and your marketer’s sense of humor, you may be able to serendipitously make your way into the timelines, but more often than not you’ll have to cultivate a passionate following and move them to action often.Twitter
When it comes to promoting your business online, you can fight the tide forever and refuse to be social, or you roll with it and body surf social networks business to new business shores.