Action for now
By now, I expect, you are pretty confused about the whole landscape of social media. It is understandable, because, not only is it a little alien to you, but there is a lot of information to take in within a relatively short space of time.
What you need now, is to take a little time out and do a bit of research to see exactly what types of social media are out there for you to consider.
Here are a few types of social media that you might want to delve into to see what people are doing and where they are promoting their brand, product or service.
The first place to go is searching for blogs.
Go to blogsearch.google.com. Google has provided a handy index of all the blogs that it finds of use. Generally it will not index blogs that are obscene or spammy.
When you arrive at the homepage you will see a box for searching. Put in one single term that you think might be relevant to your product or service. For example, you could put in “hairdressing”. You will then see a list of blogs that are relevant to the hairdressing environment.
Click each one and have a look around. What makes the blog special? What makes it unique? How are they promoting their products or services? How are they interacting with their visitors?
Another place for you to visit to look for blogs is www.blogpulse.com. This is another service to help you search for blogs. However, in contrast to Google, it lists, conveniently, items and statistics that might be of value to you.
For example, you can find the top blog posts that are news stories and sources. You can find the top people, the top keywords, the top videos and the top links.
It gives you a different perspective on the blog environment (commonly termed the blogosphere) and might help you determine the ways in which blogs are used as promotional tools.
Another useful place to go is www.planetfeedback.com. Beware, this can be a scary place if you have never been before! Planetfeedback gives the consumer the power to make a complaint or to question the activities of companies. There is also a section for compliments but, as a consumer, the most likely thing you are going to do is complain.
If your company is listed in Planetfeedback and a complaint is made about you then you ought to take this seriously. No longer is it just between you and the customer. Everything is freely viewable to the public. It brings new meaning to the phrase “consumer power”.
Of course the brighter people amongst us will realise that any complaint is an opportunity for improving services. Not only can the complaint be dealt with directly with the consumers but it can lead to further evaluation of the services that you provide or the way in which you deal with them.
In this sense, Planetfeedback should be your friend but, from now on, it is worth simply having a look around and objectively evaluating the place it plays in the relationship between consumers and businesses.
The next place to go is to a video posting site. Of course, as you probably know, YouTube (www.youtube.com) is the most popular of these. Every single day many thousands of videos are uploaded and watched on YouTube. Now owned by Google, YouTube provides a platform of interaction which is centered around video. However the interaction itself can be performed either via video or via comments and feedback.
When you visit YouTube you will see a familiar looking homepage which lists the most popular videos as well as the latest ones. Again, you will see a search and dialogue box where you can enter any phrase you wish.
As a test, put in “how to” and click “search”. You will be rewarded by an endless list of videos showing people how to do something or other. Imagine if this was about one of your products or services.
Using the hairdressing analogy once again, the video might be about how to wash your hair or how to condition it. It could be demonstrating how to cut your hair, comb your hair, curl your hair, straighten your hair… the list is endless.
Before your mind wanders sideways again, be sure in your mind and know for certain that people are making these videos every day of the week. Many of them are doing it just for laughs. Others are doing it to show that something is either good or bad. There are many instances of products that are being criticised via videos such as these.
These “how to” videos are not the only videos that are uploaded. There is a myriad of other video types being uploaded every single second.
Try to look out for videos about products or services in your niche. What are they trying to show? Are they supportive or critical? How are the products or services described and shared? How could you, as the business owner, get involved with this particular format?
It should be said here that you can easily become involved directly with these sites. There is nothing at all to stop you uploading a video about how good or great your products or services are.
A better way, as we have seen before, would be simply to show how your product or service fulfils a need. How does it work well? What does it provide over and above those of your competitors? How will it solve a problem or difficulty for your potential customers?
Be sure that videos which scratch an itch for consumers will not only be watched by them but will be shared and discussed. Take note of the comments and feedback section on the video posting sites. How could this be of use to you and your business?
One more thing to say about videos. That is, the majority of videos are posted on video hosting sites. But they can be “embedded” on other websites, for example blogs. Whilst this does, of course, make the blogs look rather pretty and attractive it also exposes that particular video to the direct visitors of the blogs without them having to visit the video hosting sites themselves.