It’s been a few weeks since I answered social media questions here so I’m going back and looking at some of the things people asked during the Vistage social media Webinars I hosted in July.

Q: With increased popularity, so many people are jumping on the bandwagon and there is more noise than actual value. How do you yell over the crowd or is there another way to not get lost?

A. I want you to think about social media as a networking event. What do you do when you go to a networking event? How much time do you spend listening? How much time do you spend asking questions? How much time do you spend talking about yourself? How do you invest in building relationships with people you met at this event? Why do some of them end up becoming life-long friends?

Social media is a networking event; one you can attend every day. Use programs such as WeFollow and Twellow to find the people you are most interested in meeting; those you think you could do business with at some point. Then build your community. Find common interests, ask questions, send surveys. And when you feel like you’ve gained some momentum (you’ll be able to tell, but it’ll take at least 30 days), then you can begin talking about yourself.

Q: Why do I really need social media? Isn’t this just another time sucker created by the Web?

A: I’m not going to lie – social media CAN be a time sucker, if you don’t manage it properly. But managing it properly is easy to do. What do you already do to communicate to your audiences? Do you advertise? Do you send direct mail? Do you do any PR? Do you do any email marketing? Do you have collateral to support your sales team? Social media is just another way to distribute your information, once you’ve built your community (see answer above). It’s another way to communicate with your target audiences and to monitor what your competition is doing.

Q: Which social network sites are most appropriate for Vistage members?

A: There aren’t social network sites more appropriate for Vistage members than others. If you take the time to listen (see my blog post about that here) and figure out where YOUR target audiences are already living and playing, that is where you should spend your time.  For instance, a business-to-consumer company may have better luck with Facebook. But a business-to-business company will succeed with Twitter. If you’re looking to recruit talent, LinkedIn is a great resource. I like to use the Groundswell profile tool when we begin consulting a new client. It provides you a quick analysis of what, by demographics, your audience is already doing on the social networks. You can find it here.

Q: When beginning to use the social networks, what would be the best approach to inform your customers and/or potential customers that we are active in these areas?

A: If you’ve spent some time listening and monitoring where your target audiences are already playing and working, your customers and prospects will know you’re out there because that’s who you’ll have started with to build your community. We also like to use this blog and our bi-monthly newsletter to keep ourselves top-of-mind as we continue to build our community. We create contests on Facebook in order to draw in more fans and we stay topical and selfless as we communicate.  Use social media as another way to communicate the great things that you are doing – it’s just another distribution channel as long as it’s not all about you and you’re connecting and engaging with people as honestly and authentically as you can.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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