Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay – but it doesn’t stay the same. It seems like new sites pop up on a weekly basis. Many small business owners are standing on the sidelines, too overwhelmed to get into the social media game. Don’t be intimidated; by not getting involved with social media, you could be missing out on an opportunity to interface with new customers.
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of online adults use social media networking sites. That number grows to over 80% when you consider the age range of most event planners is between 18 and 49. This infographic from MBAonline contends that 8 out of 10 social media users choose to interact with a company via social media instead of on their website. And this survey of leading executives predicts that social media will grow over 250% to become a significant avenue for customer relations – second only to face-to-face interaction.
Now that I’ve thrown around a bunch of marketing studies with fantastic figures, you’re wondering how this applies to event venues and vendors. The point is that if the public is in the habit of communicating with companies using social media, they will expect your business to respond the same way.
The Key to Social Media – Be Social
If this is your first foray into social media, take it slow and start by choosing one channel that is right for your business. Ask your peers which platforms they are using and follow their lead. As you get comfortable with your social presence, branch out to other sites you hear about.
Show your expertise. This medium is intended for you to share your thoughts and experience with those who can benefit from your wisdom or wit. The idea is not to promote yourself, so much as it is to demonstrate your value to a community.
As you build trust with members of the community, they recognize you as an authority in your field and they recommend you to a wider audience. Fans, Followers, or Friends, these are the members of your online community, and the more you have the more likely these people are to utilize your services.
Listen and respond. It may take a few weeks or more to build a following, but once you have folks interacting with you, listen to what they are saying and be responsive. When someone contacts you through your social media platform, acknowledge them. You don’t have to respond instantly, this is not meant to be a distraction, but you should regularly set aside 15 to 30 minutes to devote to your social media presence.
Let your personality show through. Small business owners should have an easy time with this one. Your business is your passion – let everyone know how you really feel about it
“I had the most fantastic time this weekend playing for the Smith Family Reunion. Wish all my clients danced that much! Did you have a great weekend too?”
Even if you are not the owner, it’s still best to bring your personality to the task, just express yourself as part of a team
“We have a HUGE catering challenge ahead of us. Only two days to go, things are crazy around here, but we are so excited for the big concert! Can’t wait to share some photos.”
Commit to it. If you’re going to embrace social media and become part of an online community to promote your business, you’ve got to keep at it. The worst thing you can do is make a half-hearted effort for a few weeks or months and then abandon it. Social users who come across your page and see that you haven’t posted something in 6 months or more will conclude that you are no longer in business. Post regularly, once a week at least, preferably more frequently.
Whether you choose to join a community on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook or any of the dozens of other options, remember that Social Media is about being social. Seek out your peers, network with event professionals whose businesses compliment yours, engage new customers. You never know, you might even have some fun!
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