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The Art of Social Networking

by Dan on October 6, 2011


Social networks: lucrative tool or explosive liability. No, that’s not a question, it’s a statement.

I guess the old adage about a fool building his house on sand could be re-written for the small businesses or individuals that use Facebook. On one hand, the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In are capable of launching your business into the limelight amidst a flurry of praise from the millions of internet users that are almost addicted to social networking. On the other hand, the foundations of your reputation built on social media can turn to sand, rather than stone.

As the famous Winston Churchill truism goes:

‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’

That is, of course, unless the truth happens to be worse than a lie, in which case you can be pretty much sure that everyone will know of it pretty much immediately. With the advent of social networking came an explosive increase in the speed with which news spreads: that includes news about your business, both true and false.

Let me give you two examples of situations you don’t want entering the world of social media, both of which are from the perspective of a restaurant owner:

1)    One person falsely claims that they got diarrhoea from your homemade burgers. As quick as you like you’ve got a PR disaster on your hands and you have to move at the speed of lightening to correct it.

2)    Several people ACTUALLY get diarrhoea from your homemade burgers. Quicker than previously, your reputation is destroyed. You falsely claim it isn’t true, but you can safely assume people won’t really listen.

Obviously these disasters will spread like wildfire with or without social media (a little quicker with!). So how, then, can social media help fortify yourself against pr disasters?

1)    You can build a relationship with your target market and make sure that people respect you for being a responsible business. That way, when things go wrong they’ll listen to what you say. And when things inevitably go wrong, assure your followers that you’re doing everything you can do to rectify the problem. More importantly, do everything you can to fix the problem. This way, people’s opinion of you will be restored.

2)    How exactly do you build a relationship with your target market? Social media goes both ways: Customers can assess you and you can assess them. If they say something negative about your business, thank them for their opinion and then do something about it. See the dos and don’ts section below for a more thorough analysis of relationship building.

3)    Make sure that you’re consistent in the approach you take to promoting your image. Don’t try to be a ‘jack of all trades’, stick with one, effective personality and maintain it. People will otherwise lose their connection with you as a business.

Importantly, you have to prevent the social network you’re using from becoming a liability! To do this avoid any major faux-pas. See the dos and don’ts below!

Do:

  • Spell and grammar check EVERYTHING
  • Encourage both positive and negative feedback. Show the positive to the public and use the negative feedback to help you grow and develop.
  • Share any deals and offers you may currently have running
  • Be enthusiastic, but refined, about your product/service
  • Know your target market and target the hell out of them!
  • Update regularly (we’re not talking every hour or so, but at least twice a week). This lets people know your business still exists! Stop posting and they may assume you’ve stopped trading!

Don’t:

  • Present personal views through the business media network. Not only is it unprofessional, but it will also keep those who don’t agree with your personal views away from your business. It’s fair enough if you want to place opinion over profits, but if you’re all about making money you’ll resist the urge to make anything overly personal.
  • Reject any friend requests or alienate people from your business
  • Bombard people with posts and updates, that just gets annoying
  • Try too hard. This may seem like a strange statement to make, but it ties in nicely with the point about not bombarding people with posts and updates. Sometimes, the harder you try to social network, the harder it becomes for you. To some extent you have to let it grow naturally (this applies more to Twitter than Facebook).

Regards,

Dan Little

Related posts:

The Art Of Concentration

Social Media and Your Business: A Match Made in Heaven?

Social Media and Your Business

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