Baby boomers and Gen X’ers try to understand our generation – Generation Y or the Millennial Generation – adapt to our ways of thinking, and keep up with emerging technology like social media. Conversely, as young professionals and tomorrow’s leaders, there is a lot we can learn about business from our predecessors and incorporate into our cutting-edge practices and ideas.
If you struggle to find an appropriate social media strategy for your company, take this approach: social media is one giant, never-ending Business After Hours (BAH). Some of the community’s most successful leaders have attended networking events like BAH for years and developed great business and personal relationships. These relationships are not built by blatantly promoting your business to hundreds of uninterested attendees or passing out the most business cards, however, and the same is true for social media.
Relationship-building is the key to a successful social media strategy. Shamelessly plugging your product or spamming followers with promotional links may increase your following, but it will not build relationships. As a rule of thumb in social media, promote others 50 times for every one time you promote yourself. Again, this doesn’t mean spamming your followers but, rather, commenting on their wall, mentioning them on Twitter, or congratulating them on a success. These people are now twice as likely to promote you in the future, and your followers will see you care about more than just promoting your own business.
We are all experts in our respective fields—the challenge is getting others to recognize it. Social media is an excellent opportunity to showcase your expertise. Start by creating a blog or posting articles on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re not a writer, look around social networks for people asking questions about your field and give them a few lines of advice. Taking the time to answer a few questions goes a long way. Social media isn’t a new way to advertise—it’s a conversation.
Take a look at Casey’s Foods, Oswald’s Pharmacy or Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. Year after year, they excel in a competitive marketplace due to their ability to build relationships with their customers based on extraordinary customer service.
Use social media to collect feedback and improve your customer service. Also, just because your business isn’t on social media doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about it. Monitor what is being said about your business and use this information to improve your customer service and, more importantly, your business.
Social media might be new technology, but it works best when used with tried and tested business principles. Social media should not replace your current business strategy, but enhance it.
You have all taken a great first step by becoming involved in YPN, and I encourage all of you to continue to grow in the Chamber.
Ryan Foster, Communications Manager
YPN Advisory Board Member