This guest post is by Jaime Tardy of EventualMillionaire.com.
I’ve interviewed over 50 business owners who have a million-dollar net worth or more. As a blogger and podcaster I am always so curious as to how they use social media in their businesses.
If I were to generalize, most of the millionaires I interview use social media, or at least have someone in their company use it. But they are very clear on what it can and cannot do for them.
Social media is just the newest marketing avenue, just like cold calling, direct mail or networking. Social media helps you find people who might need you, and provides a way to introduce yourself. It also helps others find and recommend you. The easy-to-share aspects of social media make it hard for a business to ignore.
Here are a few tips, straight from millionaires, themselves on how they handle their social media.
Get clear on what you want out of social media
Amy Applebaum said,
“Social media is not a waste of time if you’re clear on what the purpose is. There’s millions and millions of people on Twitter and Facebook. Decide why you’re on it and then go for that. So if you’re trying to up your sales, then you’re looking for clients. So go find your target market and start talking to them.
“If you’re doing it for a totally different reason like you want to get publicity, then you’re going to start befriending journalists and people like that and following them. I mean, I have had some really incredible people contact me through Twitter or I have reached out to them on Twitter and they email me back because nobody is talking to anybody.”
Amy Applebaum found me on Twitter and then we set up a phone call. She is using these techniques for her million dollar business.
Social media is no good to you if you don’t know what you want. Whether you are a blogger or a small business owner you have objectives you want to achieve. As a blogger, maybe it’s more traffic or affiliate sales. As a small business owner, it’s most likely sales.
How can you get clear on what you want out of social media?
What does your customer want?
When I asked Ken Wisnefski, CEO of Webimax, what the first thing a small business should do in social media he said:
“I think the biggest thing is to not try to overdo social media. Companies have people that are their ‘social media’ person and they’re just putting information up there that almost becomes overwhelming. They’re putting up 20 tweets a day about things that aren’t really all that important. People look at different case studies and maybe they’ll look at what Charlie Sheen or Kim Kardashian has done and they’ll think that’s what they need to do for their business. And the reality of it is, for celebrities, people feel endeared to them and maybe want to have some entrance into their daily lives and they’re curious about what they ate or whatever the situation may be, but when it comes to businesses, people aren’t quite as interested in some of those small intricacies.
“They’re really more interested in just facts and maybe offers or specials. Before you start to engage in social media for your company, take some time and think about what the customer behavior is and how you can really begin to leverage that, so you can actually see a return on your online marketing specific to social media as opposed to just kind of doing it just to do it.”
Once you are clear on what you want out of social media you have to get clear on what your customers want. Why are they on Twitter or Facebook?
We all know we need to provide value to our fans and followers. But what value are they really looking for? Are they looking for information or deals? How can your company make their social media experience better?
Take some time to sit in the mind of your customer. This may mean surveys or just talking to them. But find out what they really want from you. Then create your strategy around serving them and their needs.
Two different types of social media
When I interviewed Guy Kawasaki, he broke up social media into two types: Push and Pull. He explains what is essential as a marketer:
“I think that technology can be divided into push and pull: push is Twitter and email, and pull is Facebook fan page and website, and you need to do both. The beauty of Twitter and email is you can control when and how you interact. You could push a lot of stuff at people. Assuming that they read it, it’s kind of involuntary. On the other hand, with pull, you have to really attract people to websites, which is not trivial but theoretically, once you get them to a website, you can do a lot more with them.
“So there are positives and negatives of both of those, and I think that both are essential these days. You cannot really be effective as a marketer without doing both. I actually think that Twitter and Facebook are just the best things that ever happened to a marketing person. It’s a great time to be a marketing person, Jaime, it’s just, wow! Twitter and Facebook are free, ubiquitous, and reach millions of people. Life is good as a marketer right now.”
You can read more about Push and Pull in Guy’s book Enchantment.
By listening to both Ken and Guy, I would suggest to have an overall plan to hit all aspects of social media. But only do one at a time. Figure out what works on Facebook for your business first. Only after you have a method you know you can use again should you move on to Twitter or Linked In. There is too much to learn all at the same time. If you have tons of social media profiles and spend a lot of time updating them but they don’t produce results; it won’t help you!
The overall tone I get from millionaires is that social media is important now. Even techno-phobic CEOs are plunging into it because they know they need to in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Jerry Mills, CEO of B2BCFO and someone who needs his kids to help him with technology, says:
“Any business who doesn’t adapt and doesn’t understand social media, using Google, using LinkedIn, Twitter and those kinds of things to find clients and find business are going to be left far behind. So that part of business has changed. The part of selling, meeting people’s needs has not changed at all.
“Our business has grown mostly because of social media. I was not only the pioneer of this business but I think I was a pioneer in terms of learning how to use social media.”
Get the relationship away from social media
Chris Gravagna, a serial entrepreneur and owner of Elitemate.com, suggests building relationships offline to make them more personal.
“I do a lot of networking. When I look at social media, social media is like hyper growth networking.
“I’m out there constantly driving, doing events, meeting real people, shaking hands. But then I’ll go back, look at that business card, and see if they have a LinkedIn account. I’ll see if they are on Facebook and Twitter. Then I’ll continue to interact on a digital level as well as a personal level with those people so that there’s constant touch points. I’ve seen that be very successful for me.
“It works a lot better. Nothing is going to replace interpersonal interaction with people. I mean, nothing is going to replace that. Those relationships that you are able to nurture and you are able to facilitate are so important to driving success and driving relationships. But having that constant hyper connectivity through the social media platform helps you in nurturing that relationship. It helps you in creating a high level of that relationship and driving that instant communication with those people.
“We all live a different world today, full of information overload. Now we can get that information and form a connection online and then go offline and build the relationship. It absolutely helps.”
We can bring our relationships to the next level when we take them off social media to email or Skype chat. In a world of text, speaking to each other or being face to face can really create a higher level of trust in the relationship. People like to do business with people they trust.
To wrap up, social media is a great tool as long as you don’t let it become a distraction. The millionaires I interview have become very successful and some owe it to social media. But they don’t let social media run their business. They use it as one tactic to flow customers and clients into their funnel.
So be clear what you want, what your customers want, the best methods for your specific business, and then build the relationship by moving it offline.
And make 2012 an amazing year for you.
Jaime is a business coach and speaker and has been featured on CNN, MSNMoney, Success Magazine, Fortune.com, Yahoo’s homepage and more. She interviews business owners with a net worth of a million dollars each week for their tips, advice and stories on EventualMillionaire.com. Check out her free webinar series that will eliminate the excuses of “No time, No money and No plan!” for newer entrepreneurs.