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Social media for the non-geek

By Heather Gorringe I

am not a techy, or a geek. I don’t know how your computer works. I cannot coach you through your personal exploration of internet adoption. But I do know this: I

can manage my own social media pretty well. I know your inbox may well be full,

and perhaps you don’t think you can take on yet another task, but remember that as new technologies come on board they are intended to improve efficiency. Social media can help engage customers, they allow you to communicate directly, listen, and get instant feedback. If you can offer good service and good products they can be a great way of “crowd marketing” your brand to others. As the reach of social media is global, they are the ultimate word-of-mouth marketing tools.

Step 1: Watch out for cuckoos There is a new species of consultant that has emerged over the past couple of years. They dazzle you with social-media claims and explain that they can run your social-media strategy and Twitter account for “just so much” a month. But, before you sign on the dotted line, dear fellow small-business owner, are you sure the new “social-media expert” doesn’t just want to sit in your nest and be fed until he is a big, fat, cuckoo? Social media are all about transparency and truth. The fact is that you have the story, the products, the enthusiasm, the service, and the expertise within your market, not the expert. Of course there are many genuine experts who have led the social-media revolution and they may well be useful to you (Chris Brogan, Jason

Falls, Scott Monty or Seth Godin are all examples of real leaders—Google them. Also try UK-based Anna Farmery). However, there’s nothing to stop you from using consumer tools like Facebook and Twitter to benefit your business, starting today. If you do decide you need more help

and need an expert, check through the following: Have they got the relevant background in marketing or technology and at least five years’ experience; have they got a set of relevant case studies; are they published; do they speak on the topic at industry events; are they considered experts in the media; how many people are actually following them on Twitter?

Step 2: Social-media etiquette There is a raft of information on how to set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but first there are a few things to bear in mind. The internet is a mirror of real life, but just about everything can be overheard by anybody, anywhere for a very, very long time.

The way I treat the

internet, and in particular social media, is in the same way as I would at a party where I know a few people but don’t know the vast majority: When you walk in you are on your best behaviour, you make sure you introduce yourself and you find out about the other people there. You

Make your data work harder. Visit Abacus at ECMOD on Stand 410 to find out how. 24 Catalogue e-business

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