Do you do Social? (are you a street hawker or a conversationalist?)

Social media has been a part of our lives and our businesses for the last 15 years, but how many of you really understand or ‘do’ social?

For whilst our children know nothing else except a world where social media exists, any business person over the age of 30 can remember a time when social media did not.

We are familiar and comfortable with more traditional means of engaging with our family, friends and community. As well as the marketing and selling of our products & services and the dissemination of news and information.

That said, I am still surprised by people that not only don’t do social, but don’t understand that this shift in the HOW of communication is permanent. Whilst the platforms will change, the process of communicating via social media will not.

So why might this be the case with you and your business?

I know for many business owners traditional modes of marketing are more comfortable to them. They understand them or they are more easily outsourced to someone else to do, where big fonts, bold colours and a catchy jingle might seem all that there is to marketing your product.

Whilst I realise that good advertising has always been more than that, for a small business owner, not familiar with marketing, this maybe all that it seemed to you, particularly as you didn’t have to be involved. Your involvement in the advertising and marketing phases of your businesses were more hands off. You didn’t really know or need to know your customers or prospects until they became one and even then, unless they spent big, or complained perhaps you didn’t know them so well at all.

Now however, in the age of social media, the customer (your customer &/or prospect) expects more from you and your business. The phrase “the power is now in the hands of the purchaser” is true. Our customers are now being trained to research online, look for brands that they feel connected to, aligned with, and more comfortable with before they part with their funds.

How do they do that?

Via social media!

This is not a new thing.

Historically we would have always purchased like this. Prior to post war modernisation and the rise of megamalls, production lines etc, we would have known the person we were going to buy from. Not only would we have known them personally, but also how they did business, the kind of person they were and hence had a better feel for the kind of business that they were.

There is a reason the 'shopsmall' movement has taken hold.

Social media is just bringing us back to this process of buying from people. Whilst the method is radically different from having a chat in the street, the saleyard or the marketplace the process is exactly the same. Social media channels that use this personal approach, particularly small businesses, do really well and sell stuff!

You are about building connections, showing who you are, as well as presenting the how and why of your product or service ( in the same way that you might in a market setting).

So when people say to me that they don’t do social, I find after chatting to them that they misunderstand how social works within the context of their business or market and of course demographic. It can be as simple as writing off a social platform, because they only see one side of it via traditional news media (think endless shots of coffee cups inside Instagram or Dog faces inside Snapchat). They might collect connections inside LinkedIn, but never actually engage with anyone inside that platform, let alone open up a dialog about their products and services to these connections. They may have a Facebook business page, but never think to chat to their followers or fellow business partners in a collaborative manner, at odds with what they would do if they were all working in a vibrant real marketplace.

If we think more about social media allowing us to reach people in this large virtual marketplace, it also allows us to think more strategically about how your business uses social media, from your front desk all the way through to you - as the owner and driver of marketing activity within your business.

Are you a hive of welcome conversation and activity in your marketplace or are you a street hawker, just shouting to the crowd? I know who I am more drawn to.

Perhaps it is time for you to think again about how you do social.