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Making Money with Facebook?

Social media (the latest “techno-buzz term”) simply refers to people having conversations online.  In the far away land known as “Web 1.0” the internet was one-way.   You threw a website online or sent out emails and things were pretty simple.  Customers would check out your website for information, and might call your contact center or send you an email.  Ah, the good old days!

Social media (Facebook, Twitter. . .even YouTube) makes this seem quaint and old fashioned.  In the world of Facebook a short comment is followed by other comments and pretty soon you have a town meeting going on.    The vendor does not control the conversation — in fact no one controls it, not even the person who begins it!     With 500 million users now on Facebook it is larger than the United States of America — and perhaps just as powerful in its own way.

This new phenomena of social media can be a power for good or for evil.    It can help your business, or it can destroy you.   Businesses today must learn to deal with it one way or the other — and to try to find a way to use it as a way to make money.

The first thing to realize is that if you take a used car sales approach to Facebook or its ilk you will fail miserably.  Social media is all about the conversation and nothing turns people off faster than a sales pitch in the middle of a party.     To get fans who “like” you and read what you post you must provide valuable information, hopefully in an interesting way!  Doing this must be consistent — you may well have to hire an employee to manage your social media presence.   My company provides training, consulting and even provides the social media “presence” for companies — but be forewarned that if you outsource to someone like me they still need to learn a lot about your company and stay in close contact with you.    Why?

Because it is all about the conversation — and if there is no meat, no “there” there, you will quickly turn off anyone interested in you — and far from making money, you will soon start losing it to your competitors.

Content is king.  To make money on Facebook, Twitter and the rest you must have content of value and you must provide this in a succinct fashion.  You must post often (2-3 times a day on Twitter, at least daily on Facebook and 3-4 times a week on your corporate blog).   Since this is a conversation, you must encourage “fans” (find them via your email databases and by posting in places your customers visit online).    Respond to comments, good and bad — and do not be defensive.

Remember it is a CONVERSATION.

Some of the keys to success in Social Media are:

  1. Build a large and legitimate following by being informative and interesting;
  2. Respond to comments quickly and with substance
  3. Blog, Tweet and post frequently — but again it must be USEFUL information
  4. Monitor your social media communities — know what is working and what is not working

There are some great tools to help you manage multiple social media efforts, and to analyze how successful they are.  You will most likely not see “over night” results, but over time your base and your sales will increase.

As social media grows (and the largest growth is in women 55-65!), the traditional marketing bases of newspapers, radio and television are losing customers and advertisers.    Social media is a revolution.  There are ways to thrive in the revolution, but it is not by playing the game the way you might have historically with press releases, TV ads and the like.   The new world is all about loss of control and “the conversation.”

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How do Twitter, Facebook and other Social Networks impact UC?

Unified Communications — the holy grail of both traditional networking companies (Cisco, Avaya, etc.) and some not so traditional network firms (Microsoft) has the lofty goal of bringing together your office phone, voice mail, home phone, cell phone, email and instant messaging into one point of contact.  You (as the end point) decide who can reach you at whatever access point you are at, through a central phone number or ID.  You can also identify who cannot get to you (for example that pesky sales rep goes automatically to voice mail, SPAM filter or admin).

Unified Communications puts the receiver in control of who can reach them and how they are reached.

Unified Communications, aka UC, has great possibilities to make time more productive — no more phone tag, no more voice mail hell of trying to reach someone for a deadline and failing.  It really is a time saver, can be a deal saver — and has the possibility of being an enormous money saver.  (You can have a central phone number but let many workers telecommute while still having the professional “front end” of your central business phone gateway).

UC is NOT UM (unified messaging) which centralized the voice and electronic mail together.  It is much, much more than that.  Yet not only has UM muddied for most what UC is and is not, now along comes social networking which has muddied it even more!

Twitter is a quick burst “push” technology that lets its users post what they are doing.  Others can follow these “tweets.”  Facebook and other social networks lets you keep up to date with your friends and LinkedIn lets you network with business associates you know, or whom you should know.

Let’s face it — UC and social networking are all forms of communications.

Do they dove tail somewhere in the middle?  Are they diametrically opposite?  Is one the death knell for the other?

They dovetail.

UC allows the recipient (end point) to determine who can reach him/her, how and when.

Social networks allow the sender (send point) to broadcast messages to individuals or groups.  There is no way to immediately reach the sender (even with a tweet or message on Facebook there is no way to determine when the sender will see it let alone respond to it).

So UC is the ying to social networking’s yang.  Opposite, yet complimentary.  One is casual and end points access it when they have the time and the need and the inclination.  It is a “pull” technology.

UC is more professional and allows the end point to be reached as needed (instantly) by those who should have that access as allowed by recipient.

I’m a user and huge fan of both technology camps.  UC keeps a busy person spinning many activities at once more in control — which in this world of constant demands is a refreshing technological advantage.  Unfortunately UC has been slow to catch fire — perhaps due to the economy or the inability of vendors to clear articulate its true value.  Given time UC is a natural winner.  It simply needs to be explained, cost justified and exploited.  As with everything:  what is the value to the customer?

Enormous.

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