Ok, I admit it. I fail at social media. In case you haven’t heard, social media is the way to do business in the 21st century. With over 200 million users globally, Facebook alone, is an advertisers dream. Craft your message, target your market and go get ’em, right?
As a small business, we love the idea of social media. It is cost effective, there is no fee for signing up for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or You Tube. You just create the public profile you want and go. Simple, right? Wrong.
Selling in these bleak economic days has become more difficult than ever. You have to have the best product at the best price or you lose out. For a cleaning service you have to be even better because you, my friend, are a luxury to most folks. This is where I thought social media gave me a leg up. The concept of connecting with hundreds, even thousands (dare I say, millions?) of potential customers for little or no cost is extremely attractive. But the key word in that last sentence is the rub. Connecting.
Doing business is still a matter of connecting with people. It always has been, really. Whether you were a street vendor in New York City at the turn of the century or the owner of the local hardware store, you had to connect with your customers. You developed relationships; you got people to trust you and the product you were selling and, in turn, they bought from you. If they, for one instant, thought you were fake or you treated them poorly, you lost that customer. You had (have) to be engaged.
Tim Bursch writes about this in one of his blogs. In this particular blog Tim lays out the strategy for selling in today’s business climate. But the best point is made in the comments below by Nicole de Beaufort. She says, “From my perspective, you can’t “do” business anymore without developing relationships with people. Every person you meet and connect with (and enjoy) becomes a part of your network which then, over time, includes becoming investors (at some level: financial, moral support, connector, etc) in your work.” She is absolutely correct. And this is where we fail.
Perhaps it is because we are Baby Boomers in a Gen Y world, perhaps it is because we have not fully kept up with the technology. Whatever the case, we find it increasingly difficult to make personal connections via social media. If you have been on Twitter, for example for any length of time you may smile at this and shake your head. I, however, am shaking my head for a different reason. I log onto our Twitter account and watch the conversations roll down my screen. Users interacting with other users with inside jokes or conversations that I have no practical knowledge of. I have literally spent an hour watching conversations roll and trying to figure out how to insert myself in a conversation without looking like a fool. One of two things happens; I either make a comment at which point I am envisioning the participants at their collective screens furrowing their brows and wondering who I am and why I just jumped into their conversations, or I like log off, frustrated at not being able to make a connection of some sort.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming Twitter or any other social media platform. They are fantastic ways of building your brand and making new connections. I have made amazing and valuable relationships with other service owners who, ten years ago before Facebook and Twitter, I would have never met without spending a great deal of money and time to go to a conference in another city to meet. And I have been lucky enough to connect with amazing people like Tim Bursch and Robyn Flach who have been kind enough to mentor me in this particular platform. I just need to work on it harder.