// Social Media: Is anyone out there?

by Celeste Kirby-Brown

Social networks, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln…

I recently read a comment in an article about social networking which stated that ‘if you’re not engaged in social networks, you’re not in business’. What a truly astounding comment. I don’t think that the author meant it literally, because there are many companies out there that aren’t engaged in social networks that are thriving – and conversely, many avid online networkers whose businesses are far from thriving.

So, what is the fuss about, and is social networking really for your business? Will you find your clients in these places, and what is the point of a blog if no one reads it? I recently posted this question as a status update on Facebook and a kind friend replied ‘Tell me where your blog is and I’ll read it!’ It had been a rhetorical question, but her comment was the answer. There is no point if no one is reading it! Perhaps it will increase your website rankings, but if it’s not actually being read by your desired market, it’s of little use.

The truth is, you don’t really know if people are reading it unless they are contributing comments (page views, for example, may represent people who are clicking on the page and away again in a second). When people comment, they are engaged because your ‘fan page’, blog or tweet is relevant to them.

When your writing is relevant, people will be interested – and then you will really be harnessing the power of social media and social networks.

As an early adopter of Facebook I am now nearly over it. I like to see people’s photos, what they are cooking and what they are doing, but that’s it. I’m no longer interested in generic status updates. So what do I read? Those bits of information that are highly relevant to me. I might even post a comment on a blog if I am really passionate about the topic.

Non-specific broadcasts to nonspecific friends are more like mass marketing radio announcements. Do you really want to be telling your friends the same bit of information that you are telling your mum and grandma? Would you do so in your real life? If you are going to use Facebook for your business, you need to have a targeted strategy, because non-specific broadcasts are no longer relevant or interesting.

It might be an unpopular stance to not be 100 per cent behind social media and networking. It’s not that I am not for it; I’m completely in favour of using it as a sales and marketing tool – but only if there is some thought and deliberateness to it.

This means that:
1. It must be relevant
2. It must be about engaging in a conversation
3. It must still be targeted
4. It must be current, i.e. constantly updated.

Unless your social networking fulfils these criteria, it will be like instructing your best aerobics class to an empty room. You might look good up there on the podium, but there is no point unless your message is reaching someone.

Celeste Kirby-Brown
Celeste is the sales and marketing director of Ezypay, an award-winning direct debit provider to businesses in Australia and New Zealand. She has a background in direct marketing, telemarketing and business-to-business sales, and has previously been the president of Women in Finance. For more information e-mail celeste@ezypay.com.au

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