More than 500 women flocked to Houston, TX, to attend the first American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit and I had the honor of speaking to the attendees about the importance of approaching social media in a way that’s uniquely beneficial to women business owners.
Here’s why women entrepreneurs need to approach social media differently:
- Although we may have “come a long way baby”, the fact is core societal roles haven’t changed much. While women head very successful companies, we’re also still responsible for the bulk of family care. This means that whatever we do to market our businesses, needs to be streamlined because we just don’t have the time.
- Once women obtain the technical skills needed, they quickly recognize that social media is all about word of mouth and conversational networking. Research studies and surveys have shown that women recommend more products and services than men and that the trend has proven true online as well.
Social media has quickly become a way for women business owners to build their reputation as experts, connect with their markets, contribute to conversations about products and services that impact their businesses and increase revenue in the process.
During my presentation, I stressed several keys that women entrepreneurs need to keep I mind in order to yield the best possible results from social media. Those keys are:
1. Understand what's driving the increased use of social media. In order to fully understand the impact of large-scale business shifts and how your company can benefit from those changes, it’s critical to understand what’s driving the change. Getting a full understanding of the drivers allows you to see the big picture. And once you understand the big picture, you can figure out the details as they pertain to your business.
2. Get clear about why you want your company to use social media. Using social media because your competition is using it or you feel “left out”, is not a compelling enough reason. Social media is simple, but it's not easy; and when you hit a small road bump, you need to have a compelling reason to continue using social media; because at that point what the competition is doing will be irrelevant and unimportant.
3. Be where your market is. Social media success is not directly proportional to how many social networking services your company uses. You will not be more successful if you use four social networks as opposed to two. Success comes from being where your market is and engaging with them where they are. If you don’t know where your market is, call up a few key clients and ask them which social networks they are using for business. Once you get a general consensus, that’s where you can focus your efforts. Don’t forget to ask if they prefer to read a blog, listen to a podcast or watch videos online. Then act on that information accordingly!
4. Find and engage your influencers. Your influencers are people who, by virtue of their own relationships have the power to influence people to pay attention to your company’s social media activities. The good news is you don’t have to do it all alone. As long as you genuinely connect with other brands, they are more than happy to help you spread the word about your social media efforts – many times without you having to ask. Instead of your company trying to reach 10,000 people with social media, wouldn’t it be easier for you to connect with 10 influencers who each have a reach of 1,000+ people? Not only does this dial back your work load, but it also gives you the benefit of a third-party testimonial when you are introduced by your influencers.
5. Pay attention to your numbers. Many times people complain that you cannot measure the results social media generates. That depends on what you mean by ‘measure’. There are some results that clearly impact your business positively, but are hard to quantify in a hard and fast way. Benefits like visibility, brand recognition and sentiment fall into this category. There are some tools to measure these results, but it’s not like measuring unique website visitors. Keep this in mind as you think about how to accurately measure the results of your business’ social media activities. There are some benefits that will be highly quantifiable and others that are not as easily pinpointed.
Social media is not a tool to use if you’re looking for absolutes. The insert-formula-here mindset won’t take you far. To the extent that you stay open to change, see online marketing differently and are pragmatic enough to develop a plan; you’ll be able to start to experience business growth that’s directly proportional to your company’s use of social media.
Lena L. West is the CEO of xynoMedia Technology http://www.xynoMedia.com a company that helps growing companies profit from the power of social media & the Internet.