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Navigating the Waters of Social Media
Amid what can only be gently termed, “a sea of clowns pretending to be social media ‘experts’”, it can be difficult for the serious and responsible entrepreneur or small business owner to figure out what real value social media might hold for their businesses.
Already, many business analysts predict that some of the most successful major corporations are changing the way their employees, execs and customers interact, through the use of social media tools. A global survey of over 500 executives recently reported that social media improves customer relations AND boosts sales. In fact, two-thirds of them saw a vast difference after adopting a social media strategy. (source: http://profectio.com/proof-for-the-c-level-social-media-works)
Unfortunately, in the small business and homebusiness entrepreneurial field, the regular cast of characters are up to some of their typical tricks, and it’s likely to cause some negative backlash.
Those familiar with the home business arena are already more than familiar with the characters about whom I am writing. Far from early adopters, these scamsters are outwardly charismatic, genuinely likable folks, who persuade unsuspecting aspiring entrepreneurs to fork over hundreds and even thousands of dollars for overpriced products (backed by absurd product claims and even more absurd income claims), then further convince folks that if they’ll just commit to spending a couple hundred dollars each month on even more of those overpriced products, they’ll be able to use the “same magical system” these so-called “heavy-hitters” used to get rich.
In part, they’re not lying. If you already have a group of several thousand desperate folks, who’ve followed you from one failed company to the next, each time, forking over a little more of their money, and believing your “don’t let anyone steal your dreams” videos and audio fluff, then you could successfully broker deals with new companies every six to twelve months, and make a fortune. Heck, you can even shoot amateur video footage from the top of Machu Pichu or deep in the Amazon Rainforest, telling folks how they too can live the lavish lifestyle you lived… and some suckers, as P.T. Barnum attests, will buy that wheelbarrow of bullshit from you.
Recently, some of these same hucksters have been encouraging their folks to jump on-board with some of the less familiar social media tools, and as a result, a lot of us are seeing pointless spam in increasing numbers.
Now there are some great tools out there, and great ways to use them to build relationships, expand your warm centre of influence, and earn referrals. Perhaps more importantly, they are tools that allow you and I to learn from one another… to share ideas, without trying to “sell” one another anything.
Here are some of the ones I found most useful for brand new folks, perhaps a bit unfamiliar with the waters of social networking:
Decidely, this is the one that surprised me the most! I couldn’t imagine why I would want to invest time in a tool that lets people tell me what they’re doing, what they’re looking at on the web, and what they’re blogging about. But Twitter (http://twitter.com) is an invaluable tool for my business now, which enables me to not only network with other people, who are interested in the same things that I am, but also to expand that knowledge base, and find differing perspectives, which help me better my message, refine my own perspective, and understand the marketplace better than ever before.
Not only do I recommend that every entrepreneur sign up for a Twitter account today, but I also recommend two important ancilliary tools, which make all the difference in whether Twitter is an effective marketing tool for you or not.
The first is to download TWEETDECK — a free stand-alone app, which allows you to monitor Twitter from your desktop, without launching the website. You can download that at: http://tweetdeck.com. (Note: While it’s a tool I wouldn’t want to be without, it is a little bit of a resource hog, so understand that during peak periods, it could slow your computer down just a tad.)
The second important tool is called TWEETERGETTER, and will allow you to potentially build a network of thousands of opt-in subscribers (called “followers” in Twitter-speak) within a few days. You can get this terrific tool for free (nothing to download!) by going to: http://tweetergetter.com/gianmichael
Don’t try to use Twitter to spam folks. It won’t help you. If you decide to follow someone, it’s best to make sure there is some interest in who and what that person is all about. Remember that interest does not equate to “agreement”… there are as many people from the opposite end of the political spectrum on my Twitter list as there are those who agree with me. There are folks from every imaginable MLM company on the list too, despite the fact that I regularly teach people how to earn seven to twelve times more money WITHOUT MLM, and am the bane of the existence of some of the self-proclaimed “gurus” of network marketing.
Instead, about once every few hours, post an update about what you’re doing, if it’s interesting. Post links to articles online, or other interesting ideas you run across that are not directly related to your product or business. For example, I recently recommended an wonderful new charity organisation that was started by one of the pioneers of the home business industry — Kiva.org, and offered information about a blog that regularly covers various financial topics outside of the entrpreneurial/network marketing niche - http://peoplesfinancialnetwork.com/moneymatters. Those two links resulted in dozens of people I didn’t know before, starting up conversations with me. THAT is what networking is all about.
There are and will always be proponents of limiting social media sites, such as FaceBook and LinkedIn, and without a doubt, I have accounts at both places. However, I don’t find enough value in those sites presently, to invest very much time there. I do use FaceBook’s “Groups” feature as a means of creating a couple targeted “training” camps for folks, who haven’t quite mastered subscribing to RSS feeds or using more robust media, such as Multiply.com, Veoh.com, or blogging. I also have a MySpace account, but only as a means of keeping my kid sister, nieces and nephews happy, since I find nothing about that site to be interesting, useful or business-oriented enough to bother. I tell everyone to be sure to add me to their contacts on Facebook, and put my "short web address" (http://facebook.com/punkmonk) on all my outgoing email correspondence as well.
I’ve seen a fair amount of traction from StumbleUpon.com as well, and recommend that folks use it as a nice way to wander through websites that are of potential interest to them. But I don’t personally invest much time into trying to make it a “hit generator” for me.
Like its “microblogging” little sister (Twitter), blogging is an opportunity for business people to interact with other business people, with friends, with colleagues and with their customers (and potential customers). Instead of posting “sales pitches”, relevant content, interesting and helpful ideas, and even controversial questions can be raised in the realm of one’s blog.
There are other, more advanced or involved tools out there… things such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Squidoo, and so on… And there are resources online to help you learn how to use them, when you’re ready. We’ll be talking about those things on here as well, from time to time.
IMFACEPLATE... AN UNTAPPED GOLDMINE
The strength of IM faceplate is that everything we do gains instant visibility. Now that doesn't mean that we want to be spammy or sound like hucksters. It means that we can cultivate a greater number of meaningful business relationships, by bringing value to the marketplace ourselves.
When someone decides to follow me, I will ALWAYS go to the site, and see what they're posting on their IM faceplate site. If the only thing that appears there are hyped-up links about some fly-by-night "get rich quick offer", or if their first communication with me is a copy-and-paste spam message, they will never end up on my follow-list. Why? Not because I want to be mean, or punish them for being so stupid... simply because they bring nothing of value to the table.
As the owner of a successful network marketing company, doing business in 70 countries worldwide, without ever so much as doing a conference call or hotel meeting, I truly value the time I spend networking. And that doesn't mean that I try to recruit every person with a pulse. In fact, in the past month, I've made connections with more than 300 entrpreneurs, but only invited five to join our team... and even then, only after THEY expressed an interest in what we're doing.
My point is that if you genuinely care about building relationships, and networking with other entrepreneurs, you don't have to ever try to hawk your opportunity or products. Of course, another key element in my social networking approach is that I never try to encourage entrepreneurs to take the "all or nothing" approach that many network marketing companies insist upon. I would rather help someone build a portfolio of two to five successful and effective companies, which work in tandem, and then help them develop an effective marketing strategy that allows them to leverage their time and effort. Many times, that means that my company is NOT a good fit for them, and that's FINE. We're still building professional relationships.
An insurance sales professional doesn't join the Chamber of Commerce with the intention of selling every person there. And he certainly doesn't quit talking to someone, just because they are happy with their present insurance provider!
Many people know my story. I build a sales organisation of 358,000 men and women in 39 countries in under 18 months with my last company. And I did that without ever approaching someone I knew... without ever moving a single group from another company or network... without ever holding a hotel meeting... and without ever asking someone to join. What I did was focus for 18 months on bringing VALUE to the marketplace in whatever way I could.
I made twice that number of friends in the process! And that was BEFORE social media really began to take hold.
Imagine what YOU can do!
Copyright ©2008-2010, Dr. F. Gianmichael Salvato, P.A. All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced, blogged, quoted or distributed, provided the entire copyright including contact information remain intact. It may NOT be altered in any way, without express written permission.
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