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For small business, engaging with social media means first cutting through some contradictions

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For small business, engaging with social media means first cutting through some contradictions

By CraigColgan
Published: February 12, 2010 Updated: February 10, 2011

Searching for advice from experts across the Web would seem to be a starting point, except that can often mean running into not only plenty of hype but plenty of contradictions as well.

Such as:

It's all about transparency and openness! The old barriers between professional and private really matter less than ever! Just remember: Never tweet your politics. Or too many weekend details. Or how much you have on the Steelers to cover on Sunday.

Or:

It's about developing long-term relationships, not focusing any longer on marketing-- ick! -- or that annoying, immediate return on investment! Then again, know this: As your paranoid, industrial-age boss, I am easily threatened by the idea of encouraging my employees to immerse online, or have our company develop a strong Facebook presence, or blog, or post video, etc.

So in each example: Which side should prevail? Which one will prevail?

I think it is important to keep in mind that those of us who are social media enthusiasts need to, well, back off just a little. Stop making all this sound like a religion or mass cult experience. Stop thinking of the world as divided between those who 'get' social media, and those who don't. Because then perhaps some of the jargon can wither away, and more real, lasting understanding can flourish.

Specifically: The key value to all this for a small business is DIY: Do it yourself. Start. Learn. Practice. Fail. Reach out. Connect. Listen. Learn more. Succeed. Fail again. Succeed again. Repeat. Sounds like how the rest of running a small business works, eh? The rule book is being written on this stuff every day. It's vitally important that small business join that discussion.

Since hype and contradictions and other confusion are all too common across the Web, I think for business that makes finding smart destinations online such as The Industry Word all the more valuable. Nancy Sternberg explains a lot of what this blog is all about in a radio interview here.* Entrepreneur.com steps up with a piece here.*

Please jump into the comments here. This is really a continuation of my thoughts in this previous post. I want to know what you think about these issues.

Craig Colgan is a technology and media writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. Find him on the web at CraigColgan.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ccwriter. His email address is craigcolgan@ymail.com.

* This link is to a non-government site.

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Comments:

Thanks for the article. I like your point about relationships vs. marketing. It seems that honesty and transparency are the new keys to success.
I agree with your comment related to social media enthusiasts...'back off just a little.' Social media networks should be treated just as any other distribution channel for disseminating information to targeted groups.It is simply anothertool to add to our tool boxes.
I think the two most important factors for successful social media for business are (1) to make sure you set up and use your accounts in a professional manner---including using professional privacy settings, and (2) to always give value to those you interact with. Social media is not about blatant self-promotion, but about human connection.Message Edited by NicoleD on 09-25-2009 01:00 PM
Thanks for the article, especially addressing the hype-factor. Searching the internet for advice on this topic really doesn lead you down 2 black and white paths of totally vesting your company in being all over Facebook, Twitter, etc. OR being reserved and cautious about the process.I think, as in most aspects of life, there are points to be taken from both sides. So many businesses have been pressured to rush into the social media scene, that social networks are spammed out with companies letting you know what their Twitter rep had in their coffee that morning.The mad rush has scared other companies from even signing up for social media accounts.I think the balance comes in really only signing up for and using social media accounts prudently. Post updates only of information that is useful and interesting to your customer/audience. Creating content that people want to read and link to has always been the best policy in website optimization and should be the same rule in social media strategies.In summary, my encouragement to businesses considering entering the social media sphere - don't dive in head first, but don't be afraid to get wet. It's important to represent yourself in the community, but do it tastefully and your customers will appreciate it.
I think, as in most aspects of life, there are points to be taken from both sides. So many businesses have been pressured to rush into the social media scene, that social networks are spammed out with companies letting you know what their Twitter rep had in their coffee that morning. Regards. registro de la propiedad

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