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Social Media: The New Frontier

Tayla Carpenter (originally posted 4/14/16)

9/6/2022 | From The Freezer

You can run, but you can no longer hide from the world of social media. Then again, why would you want to? For older generations, the thought of online communications has some negative stigmatism attached to it, but over the past 10 years, social websites have evolved into the new way to connect to your clients. Especially for women, who are more frequent users of outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, navigating social waters is not only beneficial to growing a business, but essential.

But Why?

Good question. The internet allows us to extend our reach and connect with those whom we may not otherwise have associated with. Social media is most often used to offer support, stay current and comment on others’ activity. While digital conversations are a far cry from the dinner parties once used to connect and build relationships, they have become a necessary part of networking. According to Suzanne Perryman, award winning blogger, who has been featured on the AOL homepage, MSN Living homepage and blogher.com, “social media won’t replace a handshake but social media, done well, will change the first meeting from a handshake to a hug.” And who doesn’t like a good hug?

Millennials, probably. But they’re actually the target market for most brands and guess what they grew up with? That’s right, the internet. Social media is just as good as real life socializing to them. Looking beyond the millennials, nearly 90 percent of women in North America have at least two social media accounts and spend an average of 12 hours a week checking them. Nineteen percent of those surveyed know their best friends only through these channels, as in, they’ve never met face to face.

Why do you need to get active on social media? Because the rest of the world is. There’s finally an answer to that rhetorical question your mother would always ask when you were younger: if all the other kids were jumping off a bridge, would you do it? If all the other kids were diving into piles of money like Scrooge McDuck, yeah mom, I would.

Unfortunately, like any useful tool in life, the misuse of social media has the potential to be quite harmful. The anonymity of it all makes people brazen and things are often typed that can be deleted, but not forgotten. Perryman suggests that as long as you remain authentic, people will be responsive: “people like to do business with people they know, people they feel like they can relate to.” Which brings me to the next truncated question:

But How?

To start, Google it. Google all of it. Google you, your company, your competitors. Find out what they’re using and how people are reacting to it. It’s actually a lot like online dating. Once you find a potential match, the smart thing to do is internet stalk them until you know everything about them.

Then start a blog. This is probably the most helpful tip Perryman could ever offer. Having a blog is as important as backing up your computer (which, if you’re not doing, stop everything you’re doing right now and buy an external hard drive). It gives you a safe place to store all relevant information and it’s the perfect platform to share via other social sites. Personally, I think Wordpress is the easiest to use, but search around for the blog site that works best for you. You don’t have to be a modern day Thoreau, but it does help to have a decent grasp of whatever language you’re writing in. If you’re still not comfortable with your writing skills, find a ghost writer; this is the kind of thing they live for.

Once you’ve established your blog, remember Perryman’s number-one rule: be authentic. That means getting personal. People want to know that there’s a living, breathing, feeling human being attached to those posts. Did your cat somehow manage to smash your coffee maker at 4 a.m. on Monday? Snap a picture and post it. A) People can relate to tragedies involving caffeine and Monday and B) The internet loves cats.

You’re not done once you post your blog post or Facebook update though. You need to react to your followers’ reactions. Engage with them. Conversation, even online, requires an open dialogue with at least two people.

Finding topics to post about daily can be a daunting task, but creating a schedule can help. Try giving each work day a theme, like Taco Tuesdays, Throwback Thursdays and Freeform Fridays. Pictures really are worth a thousand words in a world where scrolling is the new speed reading. Don’t be afraid to share your snapshots! But if you’re still having trouble, Perryman suggests hitting up sites like mashable.com or Buzzfeed.com to curate content. Just be careful not to linger or you’ll get caught up reading crazy stories from impressive writers and be left wondering what happened to the last three hours of your life.

Danger Zones

Steer clear of religion and politics; they have no business near your business.

Negativity. It’s recommended that you keep things positive, but overdo it and you might come off as tacky and downright annoying.

Oh the vanity! Getting caught up in how many likes and shares you get can become your greatest downfall. Remember the goal is to build relationships here, not superficial popularity.

When it comes right down to it, social media is just a social event on a global scale. Behave like you would at a cocktail party: respectable, personable and genuine. You can do this.

Tayla Carpenter is the project manager for iPROMOTEu. She developed and currently manages A Woman's View, a program specifically designed to support women distributors in the promotional products industry. Contact Tayla at tcarpenter@ipromoteu.com.

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