Is Social Media a Silver Bullet? Part 1

bullets photo by Tiago Daniel

Wouldn’t it be great to have an almost sure-fire winner when it comes to marketing your business or yourself?  With all of the hype and discussion about Social Media, some people are assuming that they’ve found the answer.

In fact, I’ve had several people ask me if Social Media really was the end-all be-all silver bullet that everyone is making it out to be.

The answer obviously is NO!

However the answer to whether or not business owners and professionals should be participating in Social Media is a resounding YES!

The better question is what should you be doing and how can someone who’s an independent professional or selling Business to Business really use these tools in a meaningful way?  This is the first post in a short series to give you some ideas on how to use these tools.  Here’s the link if you’re interested in seeing the second post in the Silver Bullet series.

There are lots of ways to use Social Media for businesses:  Best Buy is doing a great job using Twitter for Customer Service (as does Jet Blue, Zappos and many other well known companies).

Interesting restaurants like Kogi BBQ are using Twitter to drive traffic and word of mouth about their product.  Sprinkles Cupcakes uses Facebook to get the word out on discounts and get people talking about their product.

However social media for professionals or for business to business situations is a bit less obvious.  Here are a couple of general ideas – at the end of the day you have to find what works for you and your situation.

Demonstrate Expertise

You’re really good at whatever it is that you do and people are likely already paying you money to help them with something.  Social media is perfect for sharing some of your expertise and there are several ways to do it.

Blog – the most obvious way is to start a blog and focus on the problems you solve.  Not only does it tend to demonstrate your expertise and give you credibility, it also becomes a great way for people to see the kinds of things that you do…and if they have a problem similar to that, they will be much more comfortable coming to you.

Roy Ginsburg is an attorney who practices employment law.  His blog is called Quirky Employment Questions where he posts real life questions and situations and offers up his thoughts on how things could be handled.  Because he’s a lawyer, he does need to be careful in how he says things and to make it clear that he’s not offering specific legal advice, but it does a great job of showing his thought process (and indirectly the results he’s getting for his clients).  It also becomes a resource for buyers in his target market.

On a side note, he also does a nice job of humanizing the blog and adding his personal touch with trivia contests and occasional personal anecdotes.

Answer questions / add value – LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to answer as many questions as you’d ever want to answer.  Find a couple that fit your expertise and knock out a great answer – for extra credit you can also send them a link for more information (which is even better if that happens to be a link to your blog article on the same topic!).

Be careful not to sell directly with your answers…think of yourself as a doctor analyzing the problem and suggesting solutions.  Yes your service might be part of that solution, but you need to educate and add value first or you’ll just be viewed as a spammer!

Answer 3 or 4 questions a week…it would take you less than an hour overall and it would quickly establish you as someone who knows a lot of stuff!

What do you think?

How could you demonstrate your expertise on Social Media?  Blendtec isn’t really B2B, but their Will It Blend YouTube campaign is a brilliant example of how to show the outcomes they can deliver…could you do something similar?

The next post will look at some other ideas on how to really use Social Media in meaningful ways.  What works for you?  Do you have any examples of experts that you follow?  Share your thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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