You can’t ignore social media.
You may not be using Twitter to post your bathroom habits or what you had for breakfast (honestly, no one does that). And you may not be logging on to Facebook as soon as you wake up to kill someone new Mafia Wars or feed your cows on Farmville.
But you need to create a presence. Because your customers are using social media. And they’re using it often. They’re using it personally; they’re using it professionally; they’re using it to learn about companies they’re interested in.
Companies like yours.
And if you’re not there when they search for you? Guess what: You quickly become irrelevant.
So it’s time to get started, if you haven’t already.
LinkedIn: A great start for businesses looking to connect with other professionals, LinkedIn is the most purely business-focused mainstream site in the social media world. Whether you have your own small business or are part of a major corporation, it’s important to have a profile to establish your footprint in the professional world. It can help you network for jobs and find qualified new employees. And LinkedIn’s Groups function can help you connect and network with professionals in highly specialized interest areas.
Facebook: This is a big one. Maybe even the big one of the moment. Creating a Facebook page for your business can be the key to spreading your influence to a huge group of people. Every time someone clicks “Like” on your page, it will be recorded in their news feed. Which means a notification will pop up in each of their friends’ news feeds. On Facebook, if your company’s posts and news are reaching the right people, there’s no telling how quickly they could spread outward to an even larger network. Facebook also allows you to post photos, videos and links to other content-rich sites.
Twitter: This little site can pack a real punch for those who can harness its power. Twitter can be a great way to target a very specific audience and interact intimately with them. Restaurants, salons and other customer service–focused businesses can really excel here, offering special deals and incentives to their best customers through social media. Twitter has a section of their website dedicated entirely to businesses establishing a presence on Twitter.
Accounts on these sites shouldn’t function as a replacement for all your other modes of customer communication. The key to being successful with social media and online outreach is creating a big communication loop, making sure people can find you wherever they go on the Internet.
Create a bar on your website of social media links that encourage people to find you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, connect with you on LinkedIn. Maybe even watch your YouTube videos and view your Flickr photos.
All these sites have ready-made widgets that make it so simple to do this — and make it look good.
In the end, you probably could ignore social media. If you really wanted to.
But that would probably result in your business being ignored by a huge swath of the public. And you don’t really want that, do you?