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Social media - the new way to make friends and influence people

by David Baxter | August 26, 2010

It is just a few short years ago that the term ‘Social Media’ was confined to sociology labs and textbooks. Today, of course, Social Media is something that pervades just about every part of our lives, from family and relationships through to shopping and the way we get our news. People interact in the social media cloud hundreds of times a day. Some even prefer to communicate via social media than in a more conventional way, i.e. talking, and there's no doubt that social media is the new way to make friends and influence people.

The explosion of the social media phenomenon provides exceptional opportunities for success, on a scale and a timescale not previously imagined. The rules for success, however, are quite different to those in traditional media. Not understanding those rules  can leave you scratching your head, wondering what all the hype is about.

First of all we should understand what social media is. In simple terms it is a channel to communicate to a mass audience, just as with ‘traditional’ media such as television, radio and newspapers. Social media encompasses blogging, Facebook and other online communities, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Vimeo, to name just a tiny fraction of the services available. Its most important difference with traditional media is that the communication is interactive, more like a conversation than a statement or advertisement.

The biggest mistake many people make is that they try to use social media as yet another channel to advertise their products and services. What they don’t understand is that the relationship you have with someone through social media is completely different to the one you have through print or other electronic media. It is as different as the Marketer and the Salesman. The Marketer puts together great offers and slick messages to woo the customer into their store. The Salesman builds a relationship with the customer, builds trust, provides advice and information and then makes the sale.

And so it is with social media, it is the Salesman to the traditional media’s Marketer. Social media allows you to speak with your customers and potential customers in a way not previously possible for most businesses. It provides a way of turning your customers in to ‘fans’ and continuing a relationship with them long after they have left your store.

Before jumping into Twitter or creating a Facebook page you need to look at the way these rules relate to your business, and then think about the best way to ‘talk’ through your social media channels. The rewards of a good social media campaign can be spectacular, and they can come very quickly, but getting it wrong to start with can turn people off for good.

So will you embrace social media - the new way to make friends and influence people ?

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