John Worthington of Denver, Colorado, asks:
I’m a 52 year old, experienced business owner. Whilst nothing runs perfectly, my company is established and operating like a well-oiled machine. So I have the time currently to educate myself about social media. Everyone seems to say how wonderful it is for business. But I just don’t get it. Facebook seems like a place to gossip. LinkedIn feels like an aimless game in collecting people and Twitter trite. What’s social media all about and, more importantly, how can I exploit it for my business?
Kenelm Tonkin, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers:
Social media is fascinating but, to the technology-fatigued, it seems indecipherable. So here’s “Social Media 101.” When you see Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, think of social circles comprising family, friends and acquaintances. At their core, these social media companies simply institutionalize these social circles in an intuitive online environment. People talk about everything under the sun and, as savvy entrepreneurs know, they talk about the products they buy and the jobs that enable their purchasing preferences. So, social media is word-of-mouth or referral. It’s just that Facebook for instance, now approaching a billion users, has discovered how to monetize our social networks.
This sounds straightforward. Build a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn, tweet often, interact with prospects, tap into their social circles and let the word spread about your remarkable product.
This is just the beginning. Take job classifieds. It was a newspaper realm until the early 2000s when job websites emerged. Now, social media is proving superior. For instance, a business owner may wish to advertise a position but the role is not specifically reflected in a job site’s industry categories and drop down menus. Go to LinkedIn and you will discover exact matches and vibrant, buzzing communities of these potential candidates, probably discussing best practice nuances of the role you need to fill. Join these conversations. Build profitable relationships quickly. Exploit a more targeted and pure candidate pool. Save time.
A structured word-of-mouth environment to sell your product plus the best place for properly qualified candidates, these are just tasters of the possibilities offered by social media.