Posted on

Does social media have you in a snit?

by Lisbeth Calandrino

I was at a convention recently, and a dealer told me he hoped he would die before he had to learn Facebook. He called it a new craze and hoped it would explode. I told him there are lots of people hoping Facebook would die before them, but it’s not likely.

Social media is here to stay until the next wave of communication comes through. What’s changed is that technology no longer lasts forever. Neither the television nor the phone changed for years. Then, suddenly, TVs were more than televisions, and phones became everything. We’ve already accepted our computer as outdated before we even get it out of the store.

Because social media continues to change, many businesses don’t know what to do first. Those of us who manage social media for a living aren’t sure either until we examine a business and discuss its goals. Social media allows you to connect with present customers and influence potential ones.

What’s wrong with having literally limitless customers at your fingertips? For the first time, a business can stay in touch with its customers 24 hours a day. If you’re using traditional marketing, you can have the best of both worlds by posting your content and TV clips to your social media pages.

For years businesses relied on newspapers and televisions to determine their customer base and how to find it. Today savvy retailers are looking at their own analytics and can tell how many customers have been on their pages, read their articles or ‘liked’ them. Armed with this information a business will now become the expert on its shoppers.

Social media allows you to hold yourself and your marketing plan accountable. Prior to social media, the only way to find out how customers came into your business was to ask them. My experience was they rarely remembered unless a friend sent them. Plus, they frequently had my advertisement confused with my competitor down the street.

Social media can be a wonderful extension of your marketing and advertising plans. If you never had a marketing plan, now is the time to create one. Once you determine who you’re looking for and the commonalties of your customers the rest is easy to accomplish.

Unfortunately, the responsibility for creating your customer connections is all yours unless you hire someone. It would be valuable to bring a person in to help you create your marketing plan and work with you for a few months to show you how you can accomplish your plan.

Social media allows you to connect with people you want to know but didn’t know how to find. Suddenly, you find you are passionate about the same causes, and your children are in the same soccer league. The best part is it only takes 10 minutes to find this out and connect.

Many of you attend networking groups, church groups and chamber events. In the old days, the only way to stay connected was to keep attending or give them a call. If you called too many times, though, you would be considered a pest.

Now you can write a weekly blog, post daily on Facebook and be part of a LinkedIn discussion. You can add value to the relationship before the customer buys. Social media is a forum for consumers to talk, determine who they like and connect with their friends.

Those with sales training realize building connections is the prelude to any sale. It’s up to you to determine the best way to connect and then learn how social media can help.

Many say they don’t have the time. When didn’t a retailer have time to find new customers? Some change is good, particularly if it makes your business more profitable.