Entrepreneurs are faced with many hurdles. Depending on their business, getting brand awareness is one of them. Social Media is a relatively new phenomena that entrepreneurs can use to enhance their strategy. They all are free as well. There are four major thrusts that are in the mainstream for them to use. Each of them brings opportunities and challenges. One challenge can be that once your message is out there, you can’t control how it’s used, or where it goes. But there is significant opportunity that the business can go viral in its target market.
Social Media and the Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs can set up Facebook pages for their products, or their company and interact with people in a timely basis. It allows customers to interact with each other, creating “gossip” about the brand. Facebook also makes it easy to share things among large groups of people. Your product can go viral from a Facebook promotion.
The second social media application is a blog. A blog from your company can do a lot of things. It can educate consumers. It can be a touchpoint for them. If you have a lot of relevant, important information on your blog-not necessarily just about you-you can generate a lot of extra website traffic. More website traffic can turn into more customers. The blog also can be your line of communication to the outside world. If a crisis hits, your blog can fill the void of conversation. CME Group recently started a blog. They are using it to educate customers, and also speak out about legislative issues that affect them in Washington DC. Entrepreneurs can accomplish the same thing. Blogs are more of a one way conversation, than an interaction.
Twitter is another application that can be valuable. Twitter is immediate. It provokes interaction. The tweets are real time. Twitter is a two way street of immediate back and forth. Twitter is like having a giant Yahoo Messenger account, where you have unlimited friends. It is an excellent place to build a brand. Twitter also allows you to get instant feedback from customers and make adjustments into your approach. It can eliminate focus groups and traditional feedback meetings that generate changes in strategy. Twitter is rapidly changing the social media landscape.
Linked In is a web based application that is beginning to hit its stride. You can link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account, providing for coordination across platforms. The neat thing that you can do with LinkedIn is create private focus groups that are easily monitored. The members of the group can interact privately, without the general public knowing. This can be powerful for the entrepreneur in planning strategy, reaching customers, and in the general day to day planning of their business.
A significant hurdle however is the time it takes to manage all these social media. Time for entrepreneurs is at a premium. Running a start up is brutal. You have to eat and sleep, and maintain somewhat of a balance in your life. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, and Jack a dull boy. It is critical that once you begin using this tool, you find a balance so that it doesn’t interfere with the running of your business.
For more on social media and what it can mean to you, check out these two books: World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott, and Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Here is a link to CME Group’s Corporate Communication Director Allan Schoenberg’s slide show. He recently gave a talk on social media and business at the Booth Graduate School of Business Marketing Roundtable.