Here Are Eight Things I Learned From Social Media Beginners

Here Are Eight Things I Learned From Social Media Beginners

Are you talking over the heads of your audience? It’s easy to do without realizing it.

One of the benefits of being a business management consultant is getting out in the world every day and meeting people from various types of companies and industries.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a working session with the Board of a trade association in New England.  The goal of the session was to educate the group on how to use social media business tools and social media marketing and then evaluate the best way to use them in the organization and each company.  The session was a good learning experience for the participants and a reminder of basics that are easy to overlook.

If you want to NAIL your message and make sure you’re not losing your audience, here are some things to consider:

1. Everyone starts at their own place and moves at their own pace

The most difficult part about working with a large group is that everyone starts at a different place, and tends to move along at their own pace. It’s important to be mindful of this – and when someone doesn’t get it, stop and reinforce the concept.

2. New things can be intimidating

While we were talking about technology and how to include it in business, one participant claimed that “when the fax machine came, that should have been it”. Ok, so not everyone is an early adopter. Remember the first cell phones?

 3. Change can be empowering

Some of the biggest challenges come from the ability to execute and provide real solutions to business problems using social media business tools. By the end of our time together, the creative juices in the group were flowing, and the room was buzzing with ideas.

4. If you don’t use it, you may lose it

We see this one a lot when we’re helping companies with solutions to business problems: we work with them to develop a process or to acquire new skills in the company. Unless the process is used consistently, it won’t “stick” in the company. The same goes for developing new skills. Make it a habit to take care of your online presence every day. When you continue to use these tools again and again, they’ll become part of your routine.

5. If you build it, will they come?

When you talk about introducing new ways of doing things, you inevitably make some folks uncomfortable. When we talk about “starting conversations” and “building relationships” with employees, suppliers, or prospects  … well, that can be a bit uncomfortable for some. The real point here is this: if you create a way for your customers, employees and suppliers to communicate with you, be ready to enter into the discussion.

 6. There’s safety in numbers

Forming partnerships is critical in today’s marketplace. Whether you’re outsourcing general tasks in your business, or looking for new ways to reach customers and market your products, don’t forget that there are others who are in the same boat. Find them, and look for ways to collaborate and share information with them.

 7. Value is in the eye of the beholder

Let’s say you’re trying to get your arms around a specific issue – like moving a distribution center, or consolidating a product line. The amount of energy, time and money that you want to put into solving the issue depends on how valuable the outcome can be. Keep in mind that what might be worthwhile and valuable to some may not be to all.

 8. You never know how people are going to react

The mental attitude of your audience will affect their reaction. And don’t forget: your business attitude is a choice.

Do you find that learning new things is intimidating? What’s been your experience with these? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Your Healthy Business Checklist

Your Healthy Business Checklist

We originally posted this Healthy Business Checklist in 2008.

The checklist items are still valid over three years later, but there are a few significant adjustments…

1. Keep Your Plans Current

In 2008, we talked about taking a look at your sales funnel, and closely examining  whether or not it needs adjustment.

Have customers put off purchasing until this year? Have any of your prospects indicated a significant shift in their business?  What’s the current buyer behavior and has it changed? How/are you reaching your prospects and customers along the way? Are your sales, management and operations plans up to date?

The goal here is to settle on a planning method that works for you. It can be a formal mechanism (like a strategic planning initiative), or an approach to managing a particular piece of your business (like a faltering product line or an emerging new partnership). Need some thoughtstarters to get going?  No matter the approach, take a fresh look.

2. A ‘We Rise And Fall Together’ Culture

In 2008, we wrote: “It’s often true that there’s safety in numbers, so encourage your team and the rest of the organization to look at positive, thoughtful ways to get handle the current economic climate. Engage the organization to work together with a team challenge, for example, to come up with five new ways to improve productivity.”

In this blog, Sam Fiorella of Sensei Marketing says, “My biggest wish for marketing in 2012 would be for marketers to have the courage to link the social media activities they are funded to deliver to the business’s bottom line: profit.”

With the widespread use and availability of social media business tools in 2012, you can’t help but find ways to improve productivity and work together toward a common goal.

3. Reach Out And Touch Someone

Shifts in global economic and business markets are often a great conversation starter. Over the past several weeks of this new year, I’ve received calls, emails, and tweets from vendors, clients, and clients who were “just checking in” to see how my business was running.

It’s always wise to keep communications open with prospects and clients in good times and in challenging ones.  All it takes is a bit of discipline to get in the habit of checking in.

4. One Person’s Trash Is Another Person’s Treasure

I’ve often heard this saying regarding garage sales, which can also apply to your business.

Look for competitors who may abandon market segments where you can fill a need. Then, take another look at customers that may be underserved. Where in their lifecycle are your products and services? Can you reposition your products or services in a new or different way to appeal to a new/similar/extended audience?

5. Leading Change = Leading By Example

In 2008, we used examples from an interview with Fred Hassan, former CEO of Shering-Plough, about transforming an organization and leading by example – a year before  Shering-Plough was merged with Merck & Co.

Today, lots of the same leadership qualities still hold true – and leading change means leading by example. Mike Myatt states it nicely:  leadership is pursuit.

“Smart leaders understand it’s not just enough to pursue, but pursuit must be intentional, focused, consistent, aggressive, and unyielding.”

Mike Myatt

Now is a good time to lead change in your organization that can have a long-lasting impact.