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Friday, October 14, 2011

Social Media Aren't the Only Ways to be Social

I was walking through the soccer fields last week when I had a chance to talk to a lady I know from involvement in various activities in the community.  The conversation wound through topics such as our kids, sports, and some work stuff before it came around to Facebook.  She has no use for it!  She has major issues with privacy but, even if that weren't the case, she just doesn't see a need for it.  I hear this a lot, though maybe not quite so adamantly as I did from her.  There is a bunch of people that aren't going to latch onto social media like I have and maybe like you have.  Business owners and we in Extension must continue to engage people where we can, when we can, and how we can.

One of my social media mentors, Max Spiegel, describes social media as a cocktail party.  Party-goers mingle, make small talk with some, have longer, more meaningful chats with others, etc. Based on my experience, I'd agree with Max.  Bottom line; business success is all about communication and social media tools are just another way to do it.  

There's still very much a role for phones, emails, and maybe even written or printed stuff, like flyers or brochures.  None of these are my preferred modes of communication anymore.  (My least favorite feature of my cell phone is the phone.)  But I know there are certain people I can reach best by email and others that I really have to talk to on the phone.  Business owners that desire a personal connection with customers have to meet them where they are.  The old advice still works, whether it's in person, in your farmers' market, or some other venue: be engaging, be responsive, don't oversell your business or products, etc. (See goo.gl/ZK1Vl for some tips on how to engage your audience on social media.)

The key takeaway is this: Use the tool that allows you to meet your audience how and where you need to meet them. Don't force them to find you on Facebook if they don't want to.  Likewise, get your business listed in Google Places if that's how they find businesses in an area.  This stuff isn't rocket science, is it?

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