It is clear from what I have often discussed on this blog that social media comprises many powerful tools. They can help you to promote your company, access new markets, and engage with customers and prospects in a way that you could never have achieved in the old offline model of business development.
But there are traps out there too. Taking your business into a social environment does need a new transparent approach to working that can be quite alien for some – particularly those used to only ever working on a one-to-one basis with conversations kept entirely private.
Knowing when to promote and when to engage is one of the new skills that some people find a difficult balance. After all, the idea of having conversations with potential customers might be entirely alien when you look at how your products are currently sold.
How do you sell to new prospects at the moment? Is it with a sales team calling cold leads, or emailing lists of potential customers?
Perhaps you are already familiar with the term ‘spam’ used to describe inappropriate – or junk – email, originating from the 1970 Monty Python sketch about a café where every item on the menu featured Spam processed meat.
Spam is a big problem on email, but spam filters have helped to control the deluge of junk mail we all need to deal with on a daily basis. Most of it is never even read, simply deleted automatically, but in a social media environment you need to think much more carefully about how to promote your organisation.
If you scour LinkedIn profiles looking for potential customers and then email them all a message saying ‘we do this, why don’t you buy from us’ then you are not only unlikely to win any business, the senior executives you are chasing will probably tell everyone in their industry to never deal with you. Even if they don’t inform their entire network, it is very easy for them to click the ‘report spam’ button; this can very quickly cause the suspension of your account.
Always remember that the social media environment is transparent and the people you are talking to can amplify your message, so if you start spamming them with a cut and paste sales pitch they will not respond favourably.
Photo by AJ Cann licensed under Creative Commons