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Monday, January 24, 2011

THE FOUNDERS DEN: Business Social Media 101: Top 5

We all know that social media is a low-cost way to find new customers and reach out to existing customers, as well as new ones. More than 40% of businesses using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs have generated a customer from each of them.

But if you’re brand new to social media and don’t have a social media agency budget, the process of developing a worthwhile business plan might seem intimidating. To truly understand the business ramifications of services like Twitter and Facbeook, you first have to start using them with an experienced eye and resources, or hire a social media firm. Just signing up for an account is not enough. Engaging regularly on social networks is the only way to see their potential.

If you feel your business is one that can profit from using social media, here are five tips that will ease you in and manage your expectations.

1. Research

Doing research upfront can help you make the most of social media networks. There are sites and blogs that have free information available and a paid resource center for when you decide to jump in with both feet.

See if people are already talking online about your business by monitoring brand mentions.

Subscribe to relevant local popular blogs, Twitter users, and review sites such as City Search and Yelp to see what people are talking about in your area.

Ask your customers what social networking sites they use and what your business can do for them there.

2. Know your place, you are a rookie

Accept the fact that you’re a beginner.

Build learning into your daily process. Spend two or three hours a week reading, learning, and getting engaged.

Use tools to monitor and manage time spent on social media sites.

Use failures as a learning opportunity. It’s not the failures that people remember you by on social media, it’s what you do to change as a result.

3. Don’t sell, this is a cocktail party

Focus on building relationships and customer engagement.

One of simplest ways to start using social media is to get a Twitter account and tweet: Follow us for deals and specials. It costs you nothing but time to do, but you will increase your business from the experience.

Learn the ways that other do their promotions and figure out which style fits you.

Are you the “come to my store, come to my store!!! Please, pretty please” tweeter? Are you the “I can help” business? Or simply the business that attends class and never raises their hand?

4. Promote the fact you are present

If no one knows you’re doing it, does it even matter? Make others aware that you are ready to engage in social conversations with them and help in any way you can!

Make sure you have your Twitter, Facebook and YouTube address all over the place. Don’t be afraid, everyone is doing it for a reason, IT WORKS.

This is 2011, make sure you are branded accordingly. Ensure your name's longevity by making it present along with you in all arenas, just try and do it with some class please! No need for shameless branding in the modern era.

5. Build a regular routine

If you build it they will come. By that I mean consistent solid material that your audience can use on a regular basis will keep them coming.

Make a daily planner to be active and provide good solid information to an eagerly awaiting crowd. There have been a handful of movies that have blown me away in the last decade and there have been hundreds of posts that have changed the way I think. This tells me that the professionals in Hollywood have lost their flame for the original right along with reality TV and the average Joe has an interesting life again. Use that to your advantage while you can, and do it often.

Social Media should not be the drop everything and start doing it answer for you. Continue to do direct mail and email and radio and TV, just make sure you have 20-30% of your time, money and attention in the social media space and increase over time.

By Eric Rice

LWI and The Founders Den

The Founders Den

The Founders Den is a collaborative group of successful entrepreneurs, attorneys, investors, tax professionals, and advisors who are committed to sharing their knowledge, expertise, and resources to improve the environment for rising startup businesses. The Founders Den Members come from a variety of professional backgrounds and business sectors, and are focused on leveraging their wisdom and experience to offer advice to young companies, and in select cases the Den serves as an incubator for promising ventures who are in need of support to turn their plans into reality.

Eric Rice is a successful entrepreneur and has built a number of businesses in sectors ranging from financial services to gaming. He is currently the CEO of LWI, a non-traditional marketing firm specializing in social media and online branding.

Eric Rice

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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