With that in mind, it's important for us to understand a new reality. We may think we're in one business, but now we're really in two. Yes we're in financial services, health care, sanitation and other traditional businesses. But in today's Web-driven world, not only are we running these kinds of businesses, but we're also running a media firm of sorts. That's because your customers and prospects are turning to the Web to find help. In fact the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media study recently found Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and 85% those users believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media.
Using social media can help us with that identity problem, as the more content we put up on the web the more opportunities there are for people to find us. More importantly, it helps us to meaningfully connect with them when they do. And that connection may lead to enough familiarity over time to transform web buddies into social customers. But this transformation is more likely to occur if you infuse your social media efforts with your personality as well as with your expertise.
A great example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk, a New Jersey liquor store owner with 70,000 daily viewers to his video blog where he gives his opinions on different wines. He's built a tremendous following not only because of his expert knowledge of wines, but also for unleashing his personality on his loyal audience. Now Vaynerchuk is a celebrity in his own right, with appearances on numerous national television programs.
Another example of an entrepreneur using social media to win friends and influence people is John Lawson. John is an Ebay Platinum Power Seller, who operates the online retail site 3rd Power Outlet. In his spare time one day, he put together a five minute video showing people the different ways you can fold a bandanna. That video, which he did using an ordinary webcam, has been viewed over 50,000 times and has lead to many comments, emails, site visitors and bandanna purchases.
If you're not into video, you may want to start your own Internet radio show using a service like BlogTalkRadio or Talk Shoe. Speaking of shoes, maybe you can emulate the strategy of online show retailer Zappos and promote the Twitter usage of its CEO, employees and business partners, which inherently encourages conversations with current and future customers. Or maybe your more comfortable using a blog to be an industry commentator to share your knowledge and experience with those looking for it.
The bottom line is we need to be find ways to make it easy for people to reach out and touch us. In order to do that, we need to make ourselves available to them in ways that move them to do so. This becomes even more critical in tough economic times as we fight to hang on to good customers while looking for more like them. Using social media can help us with this challenge. And according to the Cone study, 56 percent of social media users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment. So now is the time to put your company on center stage. You're audience of future customers await you.
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About the Author: Brent Leary is a Partner of CRM Essentials. Brent also hosts Technology For Business $ake, a radio show in the Altanta, Georgia, USA area about using technology in business.
Brent is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.