How to Develop an Interactive Social Media Community

There are many in the business world that believe the only reason to have an internet, online presence, with the use of social media, is because there are statistics that say it can increase a company’s return on investment (ROI).

No doubt, it can.  Have you heard the term “business transparency?”  If you haven’t, you either will soon, or should.  What it means is that, as a business, you want to be seen as open, honest, and responsible.  Increasingly, customers and stockholders expect it.  Just as they expect a very visible, on-line presence.With today’s increasing internet usage, including social media, with or without mobile applications,  it is increasingly easier to share information.  When you’re touting the benefits of a product or service to a friend, I imagine you’ve noticed they often ask you for website, and Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, or other social media information, so they can do their own research and check out what value it might hold for them.

With today’s business transparency, and the availability of web tools for research,  it is also more difficult to hide information.  But…there’s no difficulty, or restriction about having fun, and sharing valuable information about what your company does, what they stand for, and stand behind, and how that adds value to the community you serve.

So why not take full advantage of social media to develop an interactive community that can help you spread the word about what’s going on in your organization?  Social media gives you the opportunity to expand your circle of influence quickly and easily.  If you’re concerned about how to get the best ROI from your social media marketing, while increasing your sphere of influence,  here are three things to focus on.

  1. Think about customers, prospects, and the inside and outside world as family.  Social media is like inviting a group of people who share your interests to dinner, or some other social event.  So what do you and others who might be in this group expect at a gathering?  Well, for one thing, we all like to have fun…to be entertained.  Even more important than that, however, in a business relationship, everyone wants the truth about whatever might be going on, as well as to be the insiders…in on the scoop…before the rest of the world.  So it’s good to keep your social media marketing  informational, light, and encouraging, and at the same time straight up and honest.
  2. Remember that social media is immediate.  If you’re going to engage in social media, timeliness and accuracy of information can be critical.  Even social media giants like Facebook have failed on this score, as they did when changing their user terms of service, so if there’s something going on in your organization (good or bad), it’s best to share it first.  Be out ahead of the crowd instead of the other way around.  It isn’t always easy to communicate bad news, but your transparency…and honesty…rating will go up when you do it in a timely fashion.
  3. Maintain an open position on discussion topics.  Part of being open and transparent means you can express where you stand on social issues.  It also means being respectful of other opinions.  Encourage open dialogue and differing, respectful thoughts and feedback.  A community may have common ground, and shared interests, but it will always be composed of individuals, and individuals frequently have differing viewpoints on any given topic.

 

By consumers, to consumers, for consumers…that’s what social media is.  Your opportunity to challenge, create, and change the way you, your organization, and the community you serve do business.   One tweet, one like, one link, at a time.

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