Editor’s Note: This post was written by guest blogger, Matthew Russo of ChatterJet. Learn more about Matt in his bio below.
My friends think I’m weird.
Last weekend I was at the North Market with a high school buddy when he asked me, “So, how did you know those people again?” (We had just run into my friend Jess and her husband Zach.)
“Hmmm, let me think…” I responded.
“I met them through Twitter so I talk to them a lot on there, then I met them in person at a Cbusr event, and then I was on their #RunTweetCure team last year and we’ve hung out at a bunch of times since then.”
“So you actually do things with people you’ve met online?” he asked. “That is so weird, dude.”
For people who don’t do the whole “online” thing, the concept seems bizarre and scary – like something out of the Matrix.
But the truth of the matter is amazing things happen through social media. Every day.
Looking back, I remember having the same concerns, fears, and doubts as my other offline friends. But sometime in 2008 (August 19th to be exact), I decided to make the plunge and create my personal Twitter account. Today, it’s incredible to think back on how many real life connections I have made with talented, smart, motivated people around Columbus (and the country). These connections have opened the door to many so many opportunities.
The opportunity for small businesses is no different. The ability to connect with people (customers) is easier than ever before – especially if you know how to listen properly.
This post isn’t to convince you to join Twitter or Facebook (if you’re reading this blog, you undoubtedly “get it.”) My goal is to help you rethink how you are using social media to locate and connect with people and businesses who can help take your life to the next level.
Finding Friends (and Customers): Twitter
If you’re like me, you enjoy meeting new people. And if you’re a business, you depend on meeting new people every day to keep revenue coming through the doors.
By now, everyone knows the importance of monitoring your brand‘s presence online. People are talking about you – whether you like it or not – so it makes sense to be present for the good, the bad, and the ugly so you can respond accordingly.
But too many businesses stop there, which is a shame because with a little extra work they could expand their reach significantly. I would encourage you to find new potential customers and people who share the same interests and passions as you by searching for and connecting with others who share your passion on a daily basis.
At least once a week, go to http://twitter.com/search and type in words or phrases related to your industry. For example, if you’re a jewelry maker run a search for:
- “getting married soon”
- “I’m engaged!”
- “going to the prom”
- “wedding plans”
- “anniversary present ideas”
I’m going to guess that if you’ve never searched for these terms, the results will blow you away. Not every tweet will be an opportunity to sell a necklace, but a handful will be qualified enough for you to reach out and start a conversation.
(Pro Tip: Need to get more specific? Use “near:43215″ after any search term to find people within 25 miles of a given zip code.)
Keeping in Touch with Friends (and Customers): Facebook
When was the last time you met someone new on Facebook? I’m not talking ‘connected with an old friend through a current friend’. I mean: I have never seen, heard of, or talked to this person before in my life, but they seem cool so I’m going to send them a request new.
It just doesn’t happen. (If it has happened to you, please leave a comment below – I would love to hear your story!)
Facebook is a closed loop in terms of discovery. Aside from their advertising platform (which puts brands in front of potentially interested people), it is very difficult to meet and connect with people who you haven’t already connected with – either online or off.
Instead, it is a platform to relive experiences that you have shared with your friends and family (through photos and now the timeline) and to post current information with your existing connections.
The same holds true for businesses. And yet, many create a Facebook page, expect fans to show up, and then give up when they can’t get past 25 “likes.”
Use Twitter to find new friends (or customers) and Facebook to stay in touch with them.
Though the two sites are often grouped together in the social media conversation, they serve two very different functions and when used in tandem can be very useful in growing and interacting with your audience.