Posted by Todd Smith
If you’re not a business owner, don’t let the title keep you from reading this post. Remember, we are all entrepreneurs marketing our services to the market place. This lesson has application to all of us who communicate online.
While I have been involved in the social media world for only a short time, picking up on its culture has not been hard to do. In my opinion, social media has brought transparency to every person and business.
The people and businesses that really care about their friends and customers are standing out like a lighthouse at night. At the same time those who are solely focused on themselves and promote their own agenda are stinking like three-day-old fish.
Here is the biggest take-a-away in today’s lesson: while the social media world is a new one, it actually serves as an age-old model for everything we do and say in our offline relationships. If you want to succeed personally and professionally, here are some simple rules to follow:
1. You Better Really Care About People—We have gone from a society where consumers valued price, quality and service to a society where consumers first want to know that you care about them. If deep down inside you only care about yourself and your selfish desires, you can be assured your intentions will be obvious in the transparent online world.
2. Don’t Wear People Out—The people who have agreed to connect with you, whether they are friends, family or acquaintances don’t want your messages to fill up their news feed. The people who are pounding their followers with tweets, direct messages and Facebook posts are losing their influence, even if their messages have nothing to do with their business.
3. Do Unto To Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You—While the golden rule has always been a great ethical code, it is even more important today. As a result of the painful collapse of our economy, people are more skeptical and careful about whom they trust. If you want to enjoy long-term success in the business world, both online and offline, treating others how you want to be treated is an absolute must.
4. Focus on Service—The people and companies who will be the big winners in the new economy will be those who are “sold out” on customer service. Those who simply say they focus on customer service, but really don’t, are standing there with their pants down and the whole world can see they don’t mean what they say.
At the same time the companies who take great pride in their customer service are building a large loyal following.
5. Show an interest in others—People have always preferred to do business with people they like and trust, but over the last couple years this sentiment has grown stronger. If you don’t FIRST show an interest in others and the things that are important to them, don’t expect them to show an interest in you or the things that are important to you.
6. Determine your online brand/culture—If you want to be successful in the social media world, you need to determine how you want the world to see you. If you don’t consciously make this decision, then you will be leaving it up to the world to decide your brand.
I love what Zappos is doing through their social media efforts. You won’t find ONE post from them that discusses anything about their products. While most companies are using social media to dump sales content on their followers, Zappos made the decision to focus on building relationships and communicating their culture; and it’s working!
7. Don’t Post a Sales Message on Someone’s Page—This is the ultimate of sleazy sales tactics. Everyday I have to remove 5 or more of these types of spam messages from the Little Things Matter Facebook fan page and in most cases I report them to Facebook. Let me also encourage to not include a link to your website as part of any comment you post, unless you are absolutely convinced it is appropriate to do so.
8. Give Value First—If you want people to do business with you, focus on first giving them something of value. I am certainly more inclined to do business with those who have first given value to me. Do you agree with that principle?
In social media, value may mean content or connection opportunities or a sense of community. What can you do to give value to your target market? If you make providing value a priority, then you can bet you’ll be the first one they think of when they need your products or services.
9. Be Creative in Your Messages—With respect to product marketing, rather than simply dumping your sales content on people, look for creative ways to share your message and engage your audience. Check out the Little Things Matter fan page as an example of how I am trying to be creative and engage the community. While I don’t market a product or service, I am trying to build a large loyal following of people who have a desire for self-improvement.
10. It takes time—It’s critical to understand that doing business in the social media world is an art and not a task or set of activities. Building relationships on a foundation of authenticity, mutual trust and respect and great service takes time. If you need to make money this week, do it offline, because it won’t happen in the social media world.
If you fully embrace these 10 simple rules, you can be assured of being one of the winners in the new economy.
You can achieve anything that is important to you if you will focus on the little things that matter.
Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.
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