I have been asked to come into our local Radio station to share my knowledge of using social networking for business. Primed as ever the chat will introduce my background, using Twitter, Facebook and other social tools.
Using social media for business does a number of things but primarily it needs to be used as a customer service tool, an area to entertain, inform and create open discussion.
Context - Hairdresser
What this does:
1. Engage with your customers on a social site like Facebook - make friends with them, find out their birthday, anniversary, when they get a new job, attend a wedding - understand their life and become part of it by WoW'ing them when they next visit the salon or send them a personalised card (or email). They won't forget you in a hurry - and it's likely they will recommend your amazing service to their friends.
2. Inform your customers - I would not recommend using Twitter or other social sites to sell - that's what you do and you do it well face to face. Twitter is great to inform and entertain people that follow you and it can be about anything related to your business life and do not be afraid of mentioning other businesses - just be careful that if you do that it is positive. Never slag anyone off if you are representing a business - it will bite you in the ass. Play hunt the scissors (use twitpick), where's my lunch, there was a traffic jam outside the shop... make it light and entertaining.
3. Interact with your customers by having a blog or Group page on a social site that asks open questions, trying to establish opinions and thoughts on whether you should (for instance) repaint the salon, get fresh cut flowers - where's the best holiday destination for my Gran...
If you are not selling anything what is the point in all this?
Quite simply you have turned into a marketing machine - the more you talk about what goes on in your life and in your business, the more Google will find you - and if you're engaging with your customers, the more they will love you and talk about your business for you - spreading the word.
The other thing to do is ask your staff if they do this already on a personal level - chances are they do, maybe it's something they can do for your business - it needs to be natural and not forced, it takes a while to build up the confidence if you've never done it before and the best way to start is to follow or engage with like minded business or people that do it already - discuss with them and share your opinion on their sites or Facebook pages.
By the way there are 170,000 people in Edinburgh on Facebook and the majority of them are between the ages of 29 and 45 - the biggest growing group is female over 55!