There are several broad ways in which you can dip your toe into the apparent melee. The first is to be bold and start a new conversation. This will, of course, relate to the product or service that you are providing but should not be an out and out sales pitch.
Let us say, by way of example, that you are a hairdresser. Perhaps you are promoting a new and improved hair conditioning technique. You may be using new products which have special or unique benefits. Well, one-way to promote this using social media would be just to say “buy this product” or “come to my salon and I will use this product for you”. This would be silly and be seen for what it is – straight sales talk.
The better way around this would be to talk about hair care. You might want to talk about the value of conditioning. You could talk about how hair is more manageable once has been washed, cut and conditioned appropriately. You might want to talk about the different components of conditioning and how new and improved products are coming onto the market.
There are 1001 ways in which you could talk around the products or services that you are promoting. Sooner or later somebody will bite. They may ask you questions about the product or about your experiences or expertise.
You might be able to give examples of ways in which you have used the product or the way in which your services can benefit other people. You are likely to get into some sort of discussion or exchange about hair care and, as this is your field of expertise, you are well underway to promoting yourself as an expert.
The other way of getting involved would simply be to immerse yourself in a conversation that is already happening. There are ways in which you can do this and we will get to that later on.
However, a conversation is likely to be going on somewhere around the world concerning your area of skill. Using a hairdressing example, people will be talking about how difficult their hair is to manage, how lank and greasy it is, how it never does what they want it to or how they are mystified by the products that are available.
You simply need to interject. You can do this by asking questions about their problem. You might want to talk about the range of products that are available or you could simply support and empathise with them in their predicament.
Relationships are being built even though you may not be selling a product or service at that that particular moment. You will be seen as somebody that listens and that wishes to be involved. This will spread to other people and your engagement and willingness to help will be remembered for future times.
A final way of getting involved would simply be to look for negative comments and have as much to do with them as possible. The negative comments might be about your personal service or product.
Of course, you would wish to address this in a positive way if indeed you could. You might want to point out not only the issues that might arise from the discussion but also ways in which you, as the business owner or product developer, will address the problems that the potential customer or consumer is having.
The conversation might be about a product or service that you are not actually providing for that particular person or group. However your knowledge of the product or service puts you in good stead to address the negative concerns about it.
Once again, using the hairdressing example, somebody might have mentioned that a particular product made their hair worse and they will never use it again. You might wish to question them as to how they used the product or how it might have affected them.
There could be genuine reasons why they are dissatisfied and you can address these. However the negative reactions might be due to misinformation and this is your perfect opportunity to provide support and encouragement for these people. Once again your expertise, your skills and your willingness to become involved will be acknowledged and spread.
The fundamental principle of all this it is, of course, putting yourself into the issues and conversations of the consumers. Whatever you may feel about the social media environment and the people that use it, when all is said and done these people are individuals and groups that buy the particular services and products that you are selling.
They are your present or potential clients. They are the people that buy your products and should be recognized and respected as such. But they may be looking at your products or services from a different viewpoint to you. They will have a different perspective as the user of the product or service rather than the seller. They may have experiences that you have not thought of or that you have been unwilling to address in the past.
How powerful it is for you to be in this position and to be able to experience the consumer’s viewpoint firsthand.
The traditional model stops the consumer relationship basically at the point of sale. Now you have the ability to engender relationships way past this point into the future and, furthermore, develop more points of sale as your reputation, expertise and unique selling position spreads.