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When many people think “social media,” the automatic response is “waste of time.” Facebook is the place you go to play Farmville while your boss isn’t looking. YouTube is where you head when you have five minutes to spare and you need a good laugh so you watch the “Jackass” video a few more times. Twitter is where you end up when you want to commiserate about the Titans latest trade decisions, or to catch up on Real Housewives of New Jersey gossip.
Is it possible that these sinkholes of productivity could actually save you time? Yes, and in this article series I’m going to show you ten ways to leverage social media to make your life better, complete your tasks more quickly, and have more time for the things that matter (like a Plants vs. Zombies marathon – just kidding!).
Read on for ways to use social media for good, not just for gossip.
#1: Connect with Customers
These days, business is all about the relationships. We buy a car from the guy our neighbor’s brother recommended. We hire the contractor our mother’s accountant used. We go see the movies that everyone on Twitter talks about. So finding ways to take business relationships beyond transactional is a sure-fire way to cement yourself in the minds of your customers.
Social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the like – are all ways to connect with people. And if you can use these tools to establish and enhance your relationships with your audience, you’ve got a leg up on your competition. Here are a few examples:
- The yarn store owner who tweets her new customer to ask how the new sweater is coming along…
- The car salesman who leaves a link for $10 off an oil change on a customer’s Facebook wall…
- The homeschool curriculum vendor who records a short video showing how to set up a classroom in the home in a back bedroom…
- The golf instructor who holds a Skype party during the Masters…
The possibilities are as vast as the world of Internet business. You will notice some similarities between the ideas above:
- They’re relevant. They are directly applicable to the niche or industry you’re in (the golf instructor, for instance, isn’t sending out oil change coupons; the yarn store owner isn’t hosting a Masters chat).
- They’re personal. Each interaction connects with the audience in a manner beyond a simple “buy my stuff” way.
- They’re useful. Each interaction provides value to the recipient. In some cases, it’s a dollar savings (the coupon); in others, it’s informational (the video and the sweater inquiry). And even the Skype party is useful in terms of entertainment. The recipient is better off for having taken part in the interaction.
- They’re free. They don’t cost anything on the part of the person reaching out.
- They’re relatively low on the time-investment scale. A tweet or Facebook post takes seconds; the video, a bit longer, but actually saves time in the long run as the vendor is answering a question she receives over and over again. The Skype party takes place during an event the golf instructor was going to watch anyway.
In short, social media provides ways to reach your customers on an intimate level, quickly and inexpensively. People want to be treated as individuals, not as numbers. And social media provides a way to do that without spending your life on the phone.