Before I dive in, allow me to be slightly anecdotal.
Back in 2007, I was a marketing associate for a large corporation; my focus was lead generation and how to refine the process of nurturing current leads.
At the time, social media was innovative. Facebook was around but was at the stage of being an advanced networking site for college students; business pages were just on the tip of taking off.
During a strategy meeting, my marketing director began explaining that he wanted to set up a Facebook page for the corporation; that it could bring in thousands of leads for us and more importantly, that this is where society was headed.
And then it happened; I made the most ignorant comment in response to his idea, which still haunts me today—“Nobody will go to Facebook to search for a business”.
Of course he was appalled at my box-like thinking, I was reprimanded, as I so-well deserved.
The Facebook page for our corporation was created, and we were at the front of the curve. We were able to communicate with prospects and current customers about our product. But most importantly, we were there; we had a presence. We were able to cater to a demand, when no one else in our industry was there.
Soon we began searching out leads, and following-up with those who reached out to us.
Fast-forward to 2014. Social media takes on an entirely different meaning. Back in 2007, it was about having a link to your website along with your physical address.
Forget Facebook for a second; let’s take a look at social media as a whole. How we find people, find businesses and trends has drastically changed.
Now today, if a product, service or business does not have a social media presence we ask WHY and it may even alter our judgment to use them at all.
Not only has the social media evolution changed my outlook on technology and innovation, but it has also earned me more business and personal contacts than I ever would have dreamed.
Recently I was at the Social Media at Work Conference at Harrisburg University. There were two great keynote speakers, Mark Schaefer and Gini Dietrich.
A few weeks back I was asked to guest blog on Gini’s marketing and PR site, SpinSucks.com. At this point, Gini and I had never met. We have gone back and forth a few times tweeting and commenting on blog posts.
I soon discovered Gini was a Vistage speaker (I’m a Vistage member). Boom. Instant bond. When we finally got to meet at the Social Media at Work Conference it was as if I was reunited with my long lost friend.
How to Make Social Media Work in Your Benefit
One may argue that I exude stalker-like tendencies, but I like to do my research before I sit down to pitch someone.
You’ll never lose a deal because you were too prepared.
I will pick a network to start with, generally LinkedIn. This is usually a good place to start. Here you can see their past and current employers, including job duties, awards and of course, education. People love to see what degree you’ve earned and when you earned it.
LinkedIn is a fantastic pre-qualifier to see if they are in fact whom I should be speaking with. Do they have the political pull to make a decision? If they have a lot of reporting to do, chances are I need to jump up a rung or two.
From there I will spring to Twitter. Question number one: are they on Twitter? I love Twitter for professional reasons; it lets me see a bit of their personality. People have become well versed in displaying passion in only 140 characters.
Nine times out of ten, if the person you are seeking is political or a sports fanatic, you will know within shortly scanning their tweets. Sports are fun to banter about, but I have found it helpful to know what political affiliation they associate with.
Don’t forget, Twitter allows you to check out conversations that they have with others. Are they cordial and helpful? Or is Twitter just a place for them to stand on their box and spew? (I try to avoid the latter).
If I’m still intrigued, I will turn to Facebook next. Facebook has always had great privacy settings and people are becoming much more in tuned as to how to utilize them correctly, so a person’s timeline may not always be available.
Here’s what I love about Facebook: generally it’s an open-ended journal. People will share pictures of their kids, pets, vacations—you name it. As soon as I see a picture of a child(ren): I know I always have an out.
I’m a mom so I know how much any parent loves to talk about their children.
Here’s the trick: it’s not about saying, “Oh, I saw you have children.” That has creepy written all over it. Rather, I lead with, “…I am Frozen’d out. My daughter has listened to the entire Frozen soundtrack at least 76 times.” Instantly, there’s a connection and a point of relation from there on out.
Instagram is one of my favorite social networks currently. And with all its filters, everyone is a professional photographer; which makes it fun. People take pictures of what they’re interested in whether it’s the outdoors, kids, or food; it can give you some insight as to who they really are.
Now, sure it’s great to know what color car my prospect is driving, but all of these outlets help me get a look inside their mind, how they think and maybe a little of what they might be looking for.
Social media is a two-way street. Other people can research me just as easily as I can research them.
If you’ve read this entire post you’re either going to go adjust all of your privacy settings or (I hope) you’ll begin to utilize social media to maximize your personal and professional connections.