What's The Right Attitude In Social Media?
I was reading a great article today written by a friend. She observed that it can be difficult to know what resources are credible on the internet. Soon after that, I received one of those great emails (with plenty of exclamation points!) talking about how the earth isn’t turning and everything you’ve ever been taught is wrong. With a video and everything, so it must be right. Right?
I’ve been seeing a growing trend in social media, especially, where people get all excited about some new thing. They promote it to all their friends, starting an interesting discussion, and it takes off like wildfire. Before you know it, an idea has spread across the planet and everyone’s taking it as fact. We have a “meme” spreading.
Social media is great at this kind of thing.
The problem is, it can damage your reputation – personal and business – to be engaged in this kind of thing. You have to remember three key principles to these technologies:
- It lasts forever
- It spreads MUCH further than you’d think, especially if it’s weird or controversial
- It’s increasingly hard for you to be anonymous
Let’s imagine that you post a comment on a video, something like “you’re an idiot for doing this.” That’s a bit harsh, and probably not something you’d say to the person’s face. Going back to the three principles:
- People will see that comment months or years later. If you regret it next week, too bad.
- Your friends will see it, your customers will see it, a future employer may see it. If you ever take a role in the public eye, it’ll probably come out as political “dirty laundry.”
- People will be able to link it to you, to your company, to your employees, and to your industry.
How do you know how to behave in this environment?
First, talk to people with the same level of politeness and professionalism as you would do face-to-face. Second, act as though hundreds of people are in the room observing what you say. Third, don’t communicate emotional content in written form. And fourth, apologize for mistakes and misunderstandings. Communication is very messy, especially written – few of us are skilled enough to communicate accurately to a broad audience, and people will have interpretations that mystify you.
But go ahead and participate in social media – it builds your reputation and creates relationships.
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
Adding Services To Your Products
I had a wonderful discussion with a lady yesterday who has a small business that sells products for home crafters. She sells mostly to women who have that knack for creating great personalized gifts.
We talked about the services that she’s been adding to her lineup, so I thought you might find something that could apply to your business as well.
You’re selling widgets. Wonderful, world-class widgets, I understand. But you’ve been beat up by internet sales and big box stores – they just don’t have the overhead of your business so they’re undercutting your prices at every turn. If you match the prices, you’ll destroy your profit. But with higher prices, you’re losing sales. It’s a no-win situation.
Perhaps one reason why customers are running to cheaper suppliers is because you’re selling nothing BUT those widgets. Certainly the widgets are being used in something larger, which can open up a whole realm of possibilities for services:
- Helping the customer to never waste one widget - by always having the right one, having it delivered just in time, by removing errors in the next step of the process
- Taking on the next step of the process as well, whether that’s customizing the widget, assembling it into a larger machine, or just packaging it for future sale
- Growing the market for everyone, by leading the effort to convince everyone on the planet that they need to have “a widget a day”
- Removing some of your customer’s expense, perhaps by taking part of their load for end customer support or managing their inventory
OK, this talk about generic “widgets” can get a bit dry. Let’s go back to a specific example.
If you’re selling craft supplies, suppose you expand that to deliver workshops for people who are looking for neat craft ideas and to build their skills. This can help your business in several ways:
- If you’re delivering real value, the workshops can themselves become an income stream for you.
- Attendees can see first-hand that you supply much more than just the few products they were aware of.
- You can sell your supplies in conjunction with the workshop – not only what’s used in the workshop itself, but a package of products that the person can take home for their NEXT few projects.
- You will differentiate your business from competitors, thus forming a more personal relationship with your customers.
We have to look at this objectively, though. An amazing amount of this kind of information is available for free on Youtube. It’s not trivial to deliver a workshop and claim that customers can’t get the information elsewhere. But they DO get a hands-on experience, one-on-one assistance, and relationships with you and other attendees.
Try getting THAT with an internet or big box supplier!
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins