Recession-Proof Your Business with Social Media

Whether you planned for it or not, you realize that leading your company through these tough economic times falls squarely on your shoulders. Traditional advertising just isn’t bringing in the business for you like it used to. People now Fast Forward past your TV commercials, listen to music without your radio ads, don’t look at the junk mail you send, and are on the Do Not Call list.

It’s time you devised a new plan. Wouldn’t you like to be there when people are looking for answers to questions in your industry? You need to start building relationships with people that can get you business, and find people that you wouldn’t mind referring business to.

Call it what you want – Social Media, Online Networking or Web 2.0, but whatever you call it…  It’s not just for teenagers and single people anymore.

Check out these Social Media stats:

  • More than 1 in 6 viewers make a purchase after watching a video ad online – MarketingSherpa
  • Over 91 million people visit Facebook over 4 billion times per month –Quantcast
  • As of 2008 there are about 133 million Blogs –Technorati
  • LinkedIn has a 200% growth year over (5/08-5/09) year bringing its visitors to almost 12 million per month – compete.com

Social Media has it’s cost, fortunately it’s only time.

People aren’t just wasting time on Social Networking sites. They’re being productive by doing searches, asking and answering business questions, getting referrals and giving testimonials. Not on yet? Plenty of your competitors are. It’s time you got involved in the conversation or be left behind.

Case in point #1:

Zagat has been around for 29 years reviewing restaurants. Yelp, known for its restaurant reviews, has been around for less than 5 years. Yelp chose to embrace Social Networking and in that short period of time people are writing articles in the New York Times about how Yelp might be more of a factor than Zagat:

“Yelp’s traffic has expanded geometrically while Zagat’s has grown only a little. This July, Yelp drew 4.76 million unique visitors, compared with Zagat’s 384,000.” -Randall Stross

[Stats as of May 2009 show Yelp.com at over 25 million and Zagat.com at over 500,000 -Compete.com]

 Starting to take this more seriously? Okay, so what do you do?

First step:

Monitor your reputation

Google your name and your company. What comes up? Scam Alert? Judgment papers against you? Ex-flame trashing you in a video? Getting yourself active in Online Networking gives you more of a chance to give Searchers relevant information about your company that you want them to see on Google’s Results page- like your LinkedIn account.

Set up a couple of Google Alerts to alert you when someone mentions you or links to your website (set up “your name”, link:www.yourwebsite.com). You’ll receive an email anytime someone mentions you or links to your business website with a link to that page. Something bad? Do damage control. Something good? Send’em a thanks for mentioning you.

Case in point #2:

There are 2 excellent online web conferencing applications I found. I posed the question to my Twitfriends: “Which is better A or B?” Funny thing is that both A and B were monitoring their online reputations at Twitter Search and saw I was Twittering about them. They started to follow my Tweets (Twitter updates) and said if I had any questions about their service to just ask. Wow, talk about pro-active. I followed them back and through interacting directly with them and seeing their posts, I understood that their applications had different strengths and realize I have a use for both. I now feel like I have friends in the business and I won’t even consider others.

Second Step:

Social Media is a lot like networking offline, like your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI group. You’ll realize that it’s easier to get and give business with people you know on a personal level.

You’re goal should be to become the “Go-To” person in your industry for people in your networks.

  • Start by getting an account on LinkedIn. This is the MySpace for business Professionals. List all of your contact info, past work experience, website, services offered, blog etc. Start answering questions, joining groups that apply to your community and once again, get involved in the conversation.
  • Open up a free Twitter account and try to use your own photo. Search for people talking about topics relevant to you and your business at Twitter Search and start the following and replying to people needing advice. Don’t just post things business related. You wouldn’t open up a conversation with someone on the street and start telling them about your services without establishing some kind of credibility.
  • Start a Blog. Blog about your industry, your business and a bit about yourself. Be the resource for your industry.

When you have a captive audience, tell people on LinkedIn and Twitter and all the other Social Networking services you joined that you posted a new Blog or added a new service. Invite them to ask you questions in the comments section and make sure you answer them!

I have certain people in the offline world that are my “Go-To” people for certain industries. I now have my “Go-To” people in my online world too. And they’re a lot easier to get a hold of… I know where they hang out.

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