Social Media & You
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Social Media & You

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a column for USA TODAY wherein I said “don’t tweet.” Blasphemy, I know. But my point was that you have to be awfully careful when it comes to social media because if you are not, you can get sucked in and have little to show for it. Are all of your updates making you money, right now? If not, I suggested, your time is better spent elsewhere.

It turns out I was both right and wrong.

I was right in that social media really does take a lot of time. If you do not have a plan in place and are not committed to staying with it for the long-haul, then you are probably are wasting your time.

But here’s where I was wrong: Social media is about a whole lot more than making an immediate buck. I didn’t get that then. What I know now is:

1. It is also called social networking for a reason: After my column was published I heard from a woman who had grown her business 34% in one year due to Twitter. She wanted to tell me why I was wrong. She had a remarkable story:

When the economy dipped in 2009 she had to try something new, so she turned to social media. It’s was cheap and all the rage, so she jumped in. She started to tweet articles, updates, and plenty of valuable information to her industry peers. As such, she would she said, tweet and meet new people; people she otherwise would not have met.

These relationships in turn led to more business. To her, that’s the secret, and the value of social networking. It is an opportunity to inexpensively expand your base.

2. It builds your brand: There are few things you can do to build your brand as cheaply and effectively as participating in social media. Social media gets your name out there.

When you create a Facebook Fan page for instance, and get people who have never hired you before to nevertheless become your fan, you are building your brand. Having thousands of Twitter followers does the same thing. Linking on LinkedIn does it too.

3. It allows you to go viral: That USA TODAY article had more comments than anything I had ever written up to that time (mostly it was posts like, “This Strauss guy is a moron!”) Why? Because the Twitterati got a hold of the column and re-tweeted ad-naseum. My column went viral. When people begin to forward your name, articles, updates, tweets, and the like, it’s business gold.

 (And so yes, I learned my lesson: You can follow me on Twitter @SteveStrauss.)