I visited a conference of computer consultants in October 2009 and returned with a completely different view of social media. I realized it was a new avenue to promote my views, my business, and my services. It was an avenue where others could do the same. It functioned like word of mouth, only better. Social media is word of mouth on steroids.
Here’s how word of mouth works for business owners. Let’s suppose you wake up one day and decide you need a new bookkeeper. You could look in the phone book, browse through your junk mail, or stroll down the street. You could probably find one. Of course, you wouldn’t know if this bookkeeper was a good match for you and your business—you would just know where this bookkeeper rented office space.
Let’s suppose you asked your friend Judy to refer a good bookkeeper. Judy knows your neighborhood and works in the financial industry. Judy refers you to a bookkeeper she highly admires, Peggy. You go to Peggy’s office, talk to Peggy for a while, and become a customer. Everybody is happy. If you lived in small-town America and had hours of free time every day, this would work.
Most people don’t have that much free time. I can demonstrate how word of mouth on steroids works in this example. Suppose you wake up one day and decide you need a new bookkeeper. You could look at some bookkeepers’ web sites. Some may be good and some may be awful. Some of these bookkeepers may be local and some may be in another state. Regardless, you do not know which of these bookkeepers would be a good match for you and your business. You would just know what their web site says.
You visit a social networking site. In this example, I will use Facebook. You have been a member of Facebook for a few months and have almost 1,000 friends. You create a Facebook post saying, “Hey, I need a good bookkeeper in Sacramento. Can somebody refer one to me?”
Within a few minutes, you start getting responses. People tell you of their bookkeepers and share their success stories. They tell you where to go online for info on the bookkeepers they refer. You may even get a response from a bookkeeper named Peggy, who has already connected with you and was referred by several of your friends. You exchange a few messages with Peggy and agree to visit her office. You schedule an appointment, meet her, and become a customer. Everybody is happy.
You liked Peggy even before you met her. Why? It may be because 10 of your friends referred Peggy. It may also be because you exchanged messages with her. This became available because you’ve engaged social networking and it worked to your advantage.
It also works for Peggy. A few months ago, Peggy was looking at web site traffic, postcard responses, and junk mail costs. She asked, “What can give me better results at a lower cost?” The answer was social networking.
Social networking lets you establish thousands of connections, build your expertise, attract new customers, and keep in touch with current customers. You have to keep your marketing alive and promote at the places where your target audience resides. Even if Peggy has had some customers for 10 years, that does not mean Peggy is the only bookkeeper in town and other bookkeepers are not targeting her loyal customers. Peggy’s customers may be using social networking even more than she does. Social networking is big. Peggy should be there. You should be there too.
Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: "How can I grow my business" and "How do I become my own boss."
Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.
Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit http://markanthonygermanos.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgermanos. Facebook: http://facebook.com/markanthonygermanos. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgermanos.