She told us she was looking for local girls to buy a spa package at a salon (I recognized the name, but don't frequent salons). We were a bit taken aback by the random approach and the interruption of our lunch conversation. My cousin was visiting from out of town and I politely explained that we were not interested and wanted to go back to our lunch. The girl changed her tune and huffed off to randomly sit with other restaurant customers.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because it sums up exactly why social media is not just a space to sell product. If people don't trust random strangers selling products while interrupting their personal conversations, why should they trust a business that's using the same approach online?
The Trust Factor
Trust. It's a big deal to us. I don't trust random strangers to make my purchases, I trust friends and family who recommend items. I trust brands I've followed, interacted with and enjoyed over the years. I trust the word of established "specialists" - people who are up on the latest trends and happenings in a specific subject area.
This need for trust is why social media is essential for business owners. It isn't a "selling" platform. It can be, but sales should be about 10% of your online interaction. The rest of that 90%? Connecting. Reaching out locally, nationally, and creating a presence. Sharing information you're passionate about to help customers better understand who you are and what you care about.
Now to that infamous question - "Where are all my sales? We've been using social media for a couple months and it doesn't bring us any results!" The trouble with thinking like that is that social media wasn't invented for people to sell product. Social evolved so people could connect on a deeper level online. First step in approaching social media for business? Change your expectations from "instant dollar signs" to "let's get visible and connect."
In a perfect world, online marketing within social networks would have an immediate effect. For some businesses, it does. Other businesses require patience, time to develop an online presence, and the willingness to build trust before even considering sales via social networks. Customers often sigh when I say this, but it's true: No two businesses will have the same results.
Be Unique. Be Authentic. Be Available.
Socia Media is social. People chat, connect, talk about events, share ideas, share new purchases...people are collaborating and interfacing constantly. Social Media for businesses should be no different. Not sure what to post? Think about your business and your passion in life - what moves you? What wakes you up in the morning? What keeps your small business chugging along, even in this tough economy? Those thoughts, those inspirations should be presented in a social context, to give potential customers a chance to see the face of the business.
Sales are a fun by-product of great social media. Think first about using social media to become visible to a new market of potential customers. Interact with other local businesses online, keep up with your local events and news. Be aware. Most important of all, be unique. You are the only you in this world. Social Media is the perfect platform to help your business' unique voice stand out and stand apart from competitors.
We'll expand on this subject next week, so stay tuned! Did you miss last week's post? Read it HERE.