Social media and social networking are part of the 21st century market place. If your wish to thrive as a small business owner, C Level executive or independent sales professional, a successful marketing plan needs to include the social side that technology provides.
What I am observing is a lot of confusion between social media and social networking. The terms are used interchangeably by many even though they are different. This confusion is similar to the terms of marketing and selling with the overall sales process.
Social media is the big picture of how people use the Internet (media) to connect (social) in real time. There are hundreds if not thousands of Internet sites devoted to making these connections not to mention the millions of blogs. For example, Amazon was one of the first organizations to use social media by allowing people to write real time book reviews.
Now social networking is using those sites or blogs to actually connect with people through exchanges such as participating in LinkedIn groups, writing on Facebook walls, posting to blogs or even locally using the specific sites dedicated to connecting local business professionals.. However what I am observing with even greater frequency is the inability of people to understand how to make these connections authentic.
For example, every week I receive requests to connect from people I do not know or cannot currently remember. If they had invested the time to add a simple reminder such as “Nice to have spoken with you last night at the business networking event,” then this makes the invitation far more memorable. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Make sure you actually have met the person or interacted with him or her before requesting a connection.
How you utilize social media and social networking begins within your marketing action plan. Without aligning all marketing actions together, you are probably working harder not smarter. The objectives or steps for effective marketing are:
- To attract potential customers (prospects) and I probably should add a positive attraction
- To build a relationship
The goals within this phase of the sales process are:
- To make a friend
- To be asked back for that coveted one on one face to face private appointment or meeting
No matter what type of marketing strategies you are employing, the goals should always be the same. Unfortunately far too many people use these social networking sites from Twitter to LinkedIn in the same way they collect business cards. Collect as many business cards as you can, place them in a pot and then stir in some hope to increase sales.
Personally, I have found connecting with people using social media has been incredibly interesting and yes beneficial to my business. I believe it can be the same for yours provided you have invested the time to understand it and then integrate it within your own successful marketing plan.