Why social media engagement is a defining element of the 21st century, and the success of your business relies on your participation.
Social media engagement is not just for the tech savvy consumer. Social media engagement has been adopted by the world’s most powerful politicians; it has been integrated into the lives of teenagers, revolutionary leaders and grandmas. It is embraced by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Snooki and the Dalai Lama.
Below are reasons why social media engagement is defining element of the 21st century – and why it is critical for your success in business:
1. If you’re not online, you don’t exist.
The other day, a friend showed me a picture of a tourist posing on top of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The image showed in the background, a low flying plane approaching the tower. We got into the discussion of whether or not this picture could be real. In 2001, there was no Facebook, Twitter, or any other widely used social network; there were no “smart” devices to disperse the image without actually extracting it from the physical device. How, then, would the existence of this picture be possible, if there were no tools or networks to share the image pre-attack? The thought is tragic and sentimental. Yet it serves as a striking reminder of how different our world is today, from just 11 years ago.
Whether or not we care to participate, today’s methods of sharing and communicating rely on social networks (and increasingly, mobile devices). These networks have increase the frequency and volume in which we are able to formulate new relationships, discover information and speak to a widespread community. It has impacted the way individuals interact on social, emotional and psychological levels; it has impacted global politics and toppled regimes. In the midst of a major sociological and cultural shift, these modes of communication have changed the way we do business.
Business no longer exists without a social element. If you are not communicating online – informing existing customers and connections, educating, entertaining and converting new clients and partners, your business will be as memorable and reachable as that party you went to 15 years ago, made no new friends and took zero pictures. Your business connections today require constant visual, auditory and literary impressions of you who are, what you do, and the influence you are going to have on their lives. Otherwise, you are (at best) a cloudy memory from the past.
2. Content is king.
This statement comes with a caveat. In order for content to have superior social business influence, it must be targeted, exist within the framework of a courageous and organized social strategy, be unique, educational and enjoyable. The (catchy) phrase is thus vague and simplistic, but what it means to convey is the idea that in today’s social media landscape, what you say, how you say it, and the way you choose to display it – all have an impact on your professional brand.
You get to decide how you want to present yourself, your ideas and your solutions; you have the freedom to be as inventive with your company ethos as your budget allows. It also means you have a responsibility to do so. Without producing informative and entertaining content, without explaining the evolving story of your company and its reasons for foundation – you target group of clients, partners and consumers will be influenced by those businesses that take the time and energy to communicate on a personal level. The onslaught of competing content flittering throughout the web requires your content make an impression.
“But social media is better for companies that have a large consumer base. It’s not for B2B.”
Not only is this argument outdated, it is false. Social media exists for many purposes, but the main one is to establish and build communication. As a business owner, manager and employee in B2B, this communication is not only an advantage – it is pivotal to establish trust with your target audience. B2B associates may not exhibit the same behavior within social media as the leisurely consumer, but business clients, partners and advisors are consumers, too. They seek innovation, knowledge, solutions and services on the web, like anyone else.
Talk to them with your stellar content.
3. Expertise is everything.
In order for people to choose you over your competitors, they must be convinced that you are the best at what you do. At the very least, they must believe that you offer something in a way that no one else does. This “something” can exist in the form of products, services, consultancy or ideas. (I digress, as this business development concept is elementary.)
Yet, what many companies fail to see (or believe) is that they depend on social media to convey this expertise. Thought leaders stake their claim by producing content – regualrly and with intention. They then spread this content throughout communities where they have earned the community members’ trust. Sure, they acquire media attention with traditional PR outlets, but they are also the creators of their own reputation with their reign in social media.
As mentioned in Point 1, without an online presence, you fail to exist to your current and potential business market. Point 3 takes us deeper: without an online reputation, you will fail to earn the trust of your business consumer base.
Producing content that can be distributed online allows you the opportunity to share your past experience, your opinions on developing industry issues, to interact, discuss and debate with relevant communities. When you continually share your expertise, your target group (which, with the development of online networks, has become your audience) will begin to trust you; they will look to you for information and will turn to your business when in need of a solution.
All together now…
An online presence, the importance of content and the active effort to share and communicate expertise come together to explain not only why you should engage in social business, but why your company’s influence and profitability depend on this engagement.
Use the tools in your front pocket.
A version of this post was originally published on exploreB2B.