The world of sales and networking is changing, and a major part of it is happening via social media. I could say ‘internet’, but truth be told, the internet on its own really didn’t change much except to allow people the opportunity to have a presence online.

The Art of Social Media
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Blogging is part of social media, and it was one of the first mediums where creators learned that they could connect with a lot of people and make money at the same time. There are quite a few bloggers who became millionaires before the rest of us got into it.

Once the market became flooded, it was harder for many people to make any money of significance without a lot of work. It’s tough making a sustainable income via an individual personal blog these days because we’re all competing with a lot more players in the game. Yet, I know a few people who survive nicely because they know how to network with others in multiple social media arenas.

I’ve often said that everyone needs to be on social media to compete with their competitors in today’s world; I’m talking about offline businesses. I’ve also said that not every single social media site is for everybody. The truth is that, for all the benefits social media can afford you, it can also take it away. Thus, the dichotomy of social media.

I don’t remember all the details, but some years ago a major city police department put up a Facebook page and asked people to share stories of positive encounters with them. Instead, the site was inundated with tons of complaints, stories of brutality and opinions about corruption, and the page was eventually shut down. That turned out not to be wise either because people then turned to complain via local media, other Facebook pages and on Twitter.

The problem isn’t social media; it’s not knowing, or believing, what some people might be thinking and feeling about one’s business, and leaving oneself open for ridicule by saying something… well, stupid. lol

McDonald’s ran into the same problem when, while they were promoting their healthy menu of items (notice they don’t do that anymore?), they were outed for telling their own employees not to eat fast food because it wasn’t healthy and could make them fat. It never bodes well when honesty and dishonesty clash and it’s coming from the same source.

Luckily, most of us aren’t large enough to be victims of lots of people looking for us to hate us. That is, unless we say something really stupid and it becomes viral; I wouldn’t want to be a “Karen” or “Ken” in today’s world; I keep wondering how people keep forgetting that everything’s being recorded these days, and someone’s going to hunt you down, even if you’re not online.

Yet, if you’re a business, a great thing about social media is that if someone tries to make you look bad and they’re lying, you have the opportunity to respond in your own space. If they’re not lying… well, you have the option of apologizing, defending yourself or trying to ignore it. For instance, years ago on my local blog, I wrote a fairly scathing article about a local burger joint that got a lot of attention. Even his supporters couldn’t deny the images I shared weren’t real. His response to the head of our local chamber basically showed that in essence he didn’t care. Luckily for him, his business survived, but I’ve never gone back and never will.

In any case, I always recommend to businesses that they not only have an account on Twitter to track what it is they do, but to regularly search for their business name to see what people are saying about them. If the comments a re positive then remember to thank people. If they’re negative, try to address issues and correct them unless people are deliberately lying to hurt you. When that happens you have the right to defend yourself, while trying to find a way to do it so you don’t look like a whiner.

You can’t avoid social media because people can talk about you whether you’re on or not. What you can do is find ways to use it to your advantage, use it for your protection, use it to connect with an audience and use it to promote what you wish to offer to the masses.

Just like I’m promoting social media right now. 😉
 

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