Ah the old dilemma of social media. Which “bit” of social media to use and how might it work for you? Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram (and new ones being developed each day it seems), here’s a really basic guide to how social media might work for you – and your small business.

As a past student of real estate studies which is now taught at tertiary level, many webinars (online tutorials) are offered to licensed property agents. It is now mandatory for these professionals to complete at least 20 hours of training per year if they want to renew their annual licence. Back then, one of the options that I chose to help meet this requirement was around SOCIAL MEDIA. To many of you it will be obvious what each of these social media tools can do for you and to you! Here is a quick summary –
Facebook – the webinar host informed me that face book is about COMMUNITY. It gives its participants a sense of belonging to a group or groups. For me it is also a virtual life and a great way to find old friends and to keep up with current ones. Sometimes a theme or simple comment will start a chain reaction with posts (comments) coming in from all sorts of people. I have a friend who uses Facebook to point out the incorrect ways that people pronounce words. These posts are very amusing and galvanise the participants with people commenting and offering their pet hates of misuse of the English language. This at a time when short cuts (lol, BTW etc etc) have become integrated into our everyday language and serve to heighten understanding for its members. If you dissect that last sentence you will see evidence of the “posters” BELONGING to a group of language purists. Straight away, those who comment and post have become part of a group that has empathy for the subject. The post subject will eventually fade out but serves a community purpose at its outset to galvanise sometimes perfect strangers together…people who are friends of your friend on Facebook. Yup…Facebook provides a very good sense of community.

Face book also has its own set of rules; people who post make mainly kind comments (or wry or cynical) and I think that this is because anyone who offends can be instantly UNFRIENDED and the administrators of face book have created a range of settings for your personal face book page that includes profanity filters. When my mother (at 80 years +) signed up for face book I did warn her that, grand children and their friends notwithstanding, it could get a bit “rough” at times. There were days when I could see her blanch and sway at what she saw and read!

Face book is also good for small business because it personalises that business. The owner can post specials, open days, photos of happy customers and generally convey the PERSONALITY of the company and/or its owners. By the time the customers arrive at the business, they feel like they KNOW the company and its staff. That creates good will and loyalty – and a great sense of COMMUNITY and belonging. Face Book is good for that – community and belonging.

What about twitter? Twitter is good for sports people (eg Kelly Slater) and businesses (eg kitchen manufacturers) and also individuals (environmentalists) with a passion for things. Twitter posts are limited in word count which keeps things nice and succinct but you can copy and paste web site links and press stories etc to guide people to the source of the information. All of this makes you look good, like an authority on the subject. Twitter should BENEFIT the readers. Some businesses use it to promote themselves (eg, real estate agents) but the effective and most engaging use of twitter would be for example, to offer people the chance to look at a just-listed bungalow, a property type that is often in short supply, before the property has its first open home or even is loaded onto the web site/s. A typical twitter could be “Bungalows don’t often offer 4 large bedrooms. This one has not scrimped on space. View quickly. A popular property type. Call me on 0800 ….”  This way the buyers have had early notice of a good property, been informed of one of its benefits (4 bedrooms, large bedrooms) and have also been given the opportunity of a free call. Perfect!

LinkedIn is best described as a community of trusted professionals in business. I chatted with someone about LinkedIn who thought that it was about content. Not necessarily. In a sea of on line posts and content, LinkedIn can be used quite passively. You simply accept friend requests from people you know or whose industry strand you have in common or would like to, and the RECOMMENDATIONS for you as a person/professional will start rolling in. I know from personal experience that international companies trawling for voice over experts find professionals all over the world that can supply voice samples on line and record and provide them on line also. HR companies “filter” by skill set to match their clients’ needs for staff; they find individuals by their SKILL SET through LinkedIn. A relative of mine had a job offer from SPARK via an HR company who searched LinkedIn. What you personally load as your descending order of skills and expertise on Linkedin is very likely to be what you receive on LinkedIn – enquiry and requests to be “friends”.

I have just reinstated my Instagram phone app – so will look forward to discovering its unique points of difference – and benefits. Then there is snapchat….and a range of ways that you can send personal messages (SMS, MSG etc) …not forgetting free apps such as WhatsApp, a unique way to message, talk and send pics to your friends and family.

Whew!  Good luck.

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