harnessing the power of social mediaSocial media is more than opening a Facebook, Twitter, or another account and blasting messages out to all.  Learning how to use social media as an effective marketing tool is more akin to learning how to navigate the chatter at a networking event, dinner party, or family gathering; it’s about being a great conversationalist.

But there are several differences between learning how to hold an intelligent and engaging conversation in person and holding one through social media.  Learn more about those differences, and why understanding them may be critical to your social media marketing success.

Social Media Conversations

It’s hard to imagine social media marketing as a conversation. When we think of conversations, we typically imagine a face-to-face conversation; two people engaged in a lively debate, say, over a latte at their favorite coffee shop. If we stretch our imaginations, we may envision a telephone conversation; friends catching up on their lives, colleagues checking in about a work project. Stretch the imagination further to encompass a professional event; a breakfast meeting, a networking event, an office party. The conversation may include several people, but in the imagination, such conversations take place in person, in real time.

Social media conversations share some similarities with these imaginary scenes but one key difference. Strangely enough, it’s that one difference that often flummoxes business owners when they try to use social media as a marketing communications tool. That key difference is virtual time versus actual time.

Understand the Differences – and Use Them to Your Benefit

Understanding the differences between virtual conversations and in-person conversations, as well as the similarities, can help you utilize social media tools more effectively

In-Person Conversations:

  • Occur at a definite time and place, limited by geography.
  • Include a limited number of participants.
  • Have a definite beginning (“Hi – how are you?”) and end (“It was nice meeting you.”)
  • Limited to whoever is at the table, in the room, or on the phone.
  • Fades with memory over time (unless recorded, as on a telephone conference line).

Social Media Conversations

  • Occur in a definite place – the social media platform – but are unlimited by geography.
  • Include an unlimited number of participants if the conversation topic is shared or spread beyond the immediate group of participants.
  • May have a definite beginning, but may never end as people can chime in later and add to the conversation over time.
  • Present a nearly limitless opportunity to connect with people around the world.
  • Remain active, accessible and archived by search engines for an unknown length of time – perhaps forever.

Harness the Power of Social Media Marketing

As you can see from this brief exploration of the similarities and differences between virtual conversations and in-person conversations, social media offers great potential both for communications success and for potential pitfalls. To harness the power of social media marketing:

  • Consider the social media sites and platforms most appealing to your target customers.
  • Participate actively in such forums.
  • Think before you post – your comments may live a long, long time in cyberspace.
  • Hire a professional social media marketing firm to build your strategy and manage your campaigns. Starting a campaign and neglecting it is worse than not starting one at all.

If you would like to know more about how social media may be able to help your business or if you are interested in learning more about social media dos and don’ts contact Dashboard Internet Marketing via email or call 800-807-1852.  We offer social media assessments and may be able to help.

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