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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Is Social Media Relevant To Office Products?

Our business has embraced Social Media. Should you?

I have seen some people - ironically often tweeting, commenting on a Linkedin or blog post, dismiss social media as a fad, a waste of time.  Whilst not as demonstrative or as destructive as Ludites, some of these these individuals fear anything they don't understand and probably don't like change.  Don't listen to them! 

  • The Luddites have been described as people violently opposed to technological change and the riots put down to the introduction of new machinery in the wool industry.
  • Luddites were protesting against changes they thought would make their lives much worse, changes that were part of a new market system. 

Social Media is here to stay and no one knows where it will take us.  You will either find this exciting, like me, or you will sit on the river bank shivering in your underpants fearing the unknown, dark, deep, cold water.  Jump in.  The water closest to the bank is actually warm, clean and shallow.  There's a gradual slope to the deeper water. Start with a gentle doggy paddle, graduate to breast stroke and you might end up graduating to an aggressive front crawl.  I am just about doing breast stroke with the occasional scull or back stroke when I need to get my breath back.. anyway you get the idea. I am in the water.  Blogging as it happens.

Social media wont work for you unless you have:

Time to invest
Are prepared to dive in and learn
Are prepared for change

Making time is important.  That doesn't necessitate locking your self in isolation. I wrote this post over several hours, dipping in and out, answering customer calls, talking to colleagues, stopping to attend to things more urgent, checking emails, checking incoming Sales Orders!  Social Media will test your time management skills and measuring the relative ROI will be down to you in the context of your objectives.

Do you need a "guru"?  No. Though you will need to do some research and maybe find some training.  If you are in the East Midlands, and want FREE training you simply must check the E-Business Club out. 

A) While some obviously know more than others, social media Guru's are a myth

B) You can learn social media yourself.  It isn't rocket science. Look at me I am blogging and there are sharper pencils in the drawer than myself.

My advice would be to grow social media expertise in house, ideally sharing the load amongst a group of people.  Add some value.  If you have someone with a flair and interest in detail, in analysis, a desire to dive-in, learn and a propensity for creative flair you are half way there.  Maybe someone in sales or marketing,  NOT someone from Information and Technology!  Though they might help you get started.

I'd like to challenge the term "social media".  Surely this term is no longer representative of what is going on here?  Yes Facebook started life as a social platform but it has evolved to become much more than a channel through which individuals chat socially with close friends.  Facebook Pages are actually designed for businesses and brands.  And the new Facebook tweaks enables individuals to sub-group contacts into manageable groups including; family, close freinds, aqaintances, employer, location and so on.  Seems like a great idea and logical progression to me.  I find it a help.

If you use Facebook as a business but use a personal style Profile and don't have a Page you are breaching Facebook's T&C's btw. 

If you have been in a cave, never mind the river bank, the idea is that people and owners of other Pages "Like" your Page. You make posts on your Page wall and on the walls of others.  Share a link.  Share an opinion.  Share a photo or video. ..... share anything relevant. People in turn share back. Networking in cyberspace!

Twitter, from my short experience with it over the last 18 months, has always been more business focussed and is dead intuitive.  You follow people, they follow you back. You tweet and you re tweet the tweets of others. 

Who do you follow? Who do you  like? Sector specific organisations and individuals are a good starting place, the rest is up to you to work out and decide for yourself.  What do you sell?  Who are your suppliers? your customers? your competitors? .... who knows more about your subject than you ... ?

What's the point in Blogging?  Well I'll tell you. Google's robots scan these blogs and help raise my profile. That alone is a reason to blog. But there's much more value than that. Look at how many page views my Blog has had.  How can this be bad?  

I sincerely want to enrich the experience of my visitors.  By giving a little back, (my time and the modest thoughts in my head)  by sharing, by engaging, I hope to build confidence in and respect for my brand;  One of 100's of office products web-stores. OfficeThingy needs differentiation. Office Thingy needs to grow, OfficeThingy and the hassle free experience it delivers needs to be  complete and "in the now".   

The Google bots also look at my Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc etc etc activity and will be build an impression of OfficeThingy's "Social Media Profile".  I need the profile of profile to be better than that of my competitors.  Just like I need my web store to be easier to use, my prices to be lower, my products to be better, my service to be superior. Simples said the Meerkat.

I trade on-line.  This is where OfficeThingy trades.  If you trade on-line I reckon you should consider "social media".  I can't speak for anyone other than myself and certainly not for businesses who don't trade on-line or have an on-line presence. That's a whole different ball-park.

Still sitting on the river bank?

What's that red fur ball on her woolly hat?
What do you think to this post?

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