"Link me, friend me, follow me" - if you can immediately name each of the golden trio of social media networking sites this phrase refers to, you have at least experimented with how social media might apply to life and business.
The fascination and fun is in finding out how easily we can connect to others across continents, time zones, language barriers and cultures from the comfort of wherever and whenever we please. But how can we make effective use of this medium to benefit business?
As a "Trade Show Strategist" I tend to view a lot of things as marketing opportunities and I see social media as a tool to enhance the connections that have already been made as well as an avenue to reach more people. Just like a trade show, people 'attend' for their own unique purposes. Focusing on how to sort through the crowd for likely business prospects or partners is the challenge.
The most effective way to attract attention is make a lot of noise - ask any two year old. And when noise is being made for the sole purpose of making noise, it can be fairly easily tuned out - ask any mother. Some people use social media as a platform to see their name on the net and have a distorted view of the value of their postings. They tend to make a lot of noise about who they are, what they are doing and how many friends/connections/followers they have.
They spam us with details of everything from what they've had for breakfast to critiques for every product or service they had contact with in the past 5 minutes. The kind of noise they are making is definitely attracting attention - but not of the type they think. Like a neighbor of an aspiring teenage rock-star can attest to, too much noise is at the very least annoying, but can easily escalate to levels where drastic measures are taken to keep the peace.
The noise level in social media networking should be viewed like that of any face-to-face networking event. The more people that are in the room, the noisier it gets. And the noisier it gets, the more difficult it is to make impactful connections. If the objective is to have the most connections - the bigger the room the better. But when the objective is to make targeted effective connections that goal is more easily achieved in smaller groups.
It is a commonly accepted fact in the world of trade shows that each individual standing in a booth can talk to 6-10 people per hour to introduce themselves, their company and offerings. That's 6-10 minutes per interaction - no matter how many people are in attendance. Large crowds do not put more time on the clock to accommodate the greater number.
The savvy exhibitor quickly realizes the futility of attempting to attract everyone in attendance. The effective use of displays and signage, in combination with other techniques, can efficiently sort through the noise and appeal to people who have an interest in learning more. This is the foundation for building an effective business connection.
In the on-line world, the use of effective postings creates a foundation for meaningful communication. Show respect for others by offering value in your posts. Make it worth the time to read. It doesn't always have to be dull and only on business but strive to make your posts unique.
The world of face-to-face networking has taught us that people will do business with others they know, like and trust. Social media has created an easy venue to easily maintain these connections as well as acquire new ones. Technology will never change the fact that people will be able to 'read between the lines' and get a feel for who you really are and what you're all about. Building a targeted base of connections combined with valuable posts that lead the reader to want to know more will not only drive more traffic to your website or blog but will cut through the noise so your message can be heard.