How NOT to use Social Media

I’m seeing lots of small businesses waste their time and money on Social Media.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that social media is a waste of time – it’s a brilliant tool for business but too many small businesses are being led down the wrong track with it.

Big corporates and brands are spending millions analysing the way it works best but small businesses are often sold services and advice that ignores these findings.

The very worst way to use social media is to believe that the more followers, fans or contacts you have, the more people you’ll be able to sell to.

It’s not about the numbers – it really, really, isn’t.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, The Tipping Point , he outlined a vision in which great change can be created with just a few people who are especially influential. Why go to the trouble to convince entire populations when, if you can identify those magic few, you can create a movement of many.

Unfortunately, the costs of identifying these massively influential people and winning them over to your side nullifies, if not exceeds, their benefits.

So rather than try to find a big shot to support your cause, actively recruit those who will be passionate about your idea. Chances are they know some others who’ll like it as well.

The Importance of the Network

Since the advent of social media, community building is all too often confused with growing the number of followers. Not surprisingly, services have sprung up that can do it for you. Want 10,000 followers? No problem, you can have them by tomorrow. Want a million? We’ll take care of it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. The strength of your community isn’t a function of the number of your followers, but in their relationship to each other. Everyone needs to feel that they are getting something from belonging, not just being sold to.

So while attracting a lot of followers might be impressive, what’s vastly more important is the value that they derive from the community. If you have set your community up so that they can interact with each other and not just with you, social media will give you huge returns.

Ann Hawkins is a business mentor and founder of The Inspired Group.

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