Today I attended a webinar hosted by Australian Business Network, as part of the Booked for Lunch series, where Chris Brogan spoke on Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything in advance of his upcoming book launch.
Social media platformsWhilst this webinar was all about Google+, which I have summarised in my post Will Google+ Really Change Everything for Business?, my greatest take outs related not to Google+ specifically, but rather reinforced my beliefs of how we should treat our relationships with our various social media platforms of choice and more importantly the people we interact with in each of these spaces.

Your Home

Chris provided a great analogy about how your website/blog is your home.  This is your own piece of real estate.  When you blog, post, tweet or do anything within anyone else’s platform, it is like renting a hotel room.  You can put up as many posters as you like to make you feel like it is your own place, but at the end of the day it isn’t and there is nothing stopping the landlord from making you take them all down or even doing so for you without your permission.  This happens often as social media platforms evolve and change the way they look and the features they offer in the process.  Therefore you should focus on those web presences that you have complete control over (i.e. your website and/or blog) and create the look and feel you want there foremost.  If you don’t have complete control over these pieces of real estate, then I suggest you take back control.

Your Outposts

Social media platforms are outposts.  Outposts are where the people are, so you should spend time there interacting with people to gain greater exposure for the great work you are doing back home.  Your task whilst at your outposts is to lure people back to your home base through your compelling content and interactions.  Your goal once you have lured people back to your home base should be to convert those visitors into customers and get transactions done.

Attention is a Gift

Chris focused on the need for a warm sell, stating that “attention is a gift”.  It costs a lot of money to buy attention through outbound marketing techniques such as television advertising.  Return on investment via these methods are now diminishing due to the prevalence of PVR’s (personal video recorders – for those not up on the lingo) to skip the ads (that’s what I do).  However, to earn attention by creating useful “stuff” for your would be buyer can provide better results and is much more worthwhile for all involved.  As you converse with people, you begin to turn their “attention” into “intention” to buy from you.
Having said that, once you earn people’s interest and they give you the gift of their attention (e.g. they choose to sign up to your e-news) you should not reward them by “beating them to death with sales information” or they will unsubscribe in no time at all.  Instead, you need to warm them up so that they want to buy from you.  This can be achieved via several methods, such as providing people with eduction that will assist them with their business.  By helping others to grow their capabilities, those people will become advocates for you and as a result your audience and community will start to grow.  If education is not your thing, then another approach may be to demonstrate your personality so that people are more likely to do business with you in future as a person that they know, like and/or trust.

Relationship Minded Business

Social media platforms can be used to cultivate visibility and earn business leverage.  By creating interesting content and sharing it on social media platforms you can stay at the forefront of the minds of people you don’t have direct contact with that often.  Social media enables you to have conversations about things that are important to people individually and develop relationships with people before sales, between sales and even completely removed from sales (imagine that, just chatting for the hell of it!).
Chris believes that a relationship minded approach, as opposed to a transactional minded approach to business, can provide greater success.  Ideally, Chris would like to see “businesses get back to being human and treating us like humans again”.  Here, here!

Magazine – You

In this day and age you don’t have to wait for people to write magazine articles about you (or worry about what they are going to write).  Having a presence on social media platforms provides you with a stage where you can create the media that portrays you and/or your business in the way that you want to be portrayed, with the added benefit of that information running live into a space where people are already engaged to some extent, as they have subscribed to your information (in some way depending on the platform of choice).
You are in control of the information you wish to develop, deliver, curate and share and that is very powerful for your business.

Replicating Content

Chris provided another excellent analogy in response to an audience question relating to broadcasting content across multiple platforms, stating “if I said how amazingly lovely you looked and your eyes made me think about the future and then I turned and said the same thing to Susan, how would you feel?”  Adopting this approach because you “don’t have time” is like saying “I don’t have time to say flattering things to every women, so I will just say it once and you can all pass it around”.  It just doesn’t work!
Chris’ recommended choice is to think of the platform and post accordingly.  The 140 characters of Twitter requires you to be engaging to get someone’s attention to click on your link and/or re-tweet.  Whereas Facebook and Google+ more conversational through their in-line comments, making a questioning technique more appropriate.  Chris also recommended that you should be the number one commenter on everything that you post, regardless of the platform, because it is within that interaction that people decide to do business with you.

Put a Face on Your Brand

People naturally look for faces.  Chris believes that small businesses (i.e. not Nike) should humanise their brand by using a face rather than a logo wherever they have an avatar.  This is necessary for better results as people do business with people, not logos.
Do you have your home base in order? Are you appropriately rewarding those that give you the gift of attention?  Are you adopting a relationship minded approach to your business?  Are you creating media that portrays you and/or your business in the way that you want to be portrayed?  Are you posting according to the platform you are on?  And do you have a face for your brand?  If you have answered no to any of the above, then perhaps it is a good time now to review your social media strategy to ensure you are getting the most from your platform(s) of choice.