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Desiree Ashton

doing the legwork, so you don't have to

Earlier this week I was invited to attend and speak at a Social Media event alongside a colleague of mine, Richard Wishart.  I use the term ‘colleague’ because Richard is more than someone I met at a networking event (which I did), he is someone I have connected with across Social Media and gone on to meet again in my role as a Virtual PA.  The fact that he invited me to be part of this event is a case in point for the value that can be found in Social Media.  After our initial meeting, Twitter and LinkedIn both allowed us to ‘continue the conversation’ and it was the opportunity to engage in that exchange that took us to the next stage.

The event, hosted by Richard, was designed to demystify and explain some of the commonly queried aspects of social media and sign-post ways in which particularly small businesses can take advantage of what is effectively an ‘amplifier’ for what they do.  As both Ann Hawkins and Chris Thomas, my fellow speakers also highlighted, social media can be a very cost-effective way of getting yourself heard and, more importantly, connecting with the business world around you.   Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ … to name just a few – can all help you to channel your message towards those who you want to hear it.  No one is suggesting that they will automatically substitute existing methods, but they will certainly complement them.

Richard also highlighted a key use he has for social media, which is to feed live information to him.  He described to the room how, in addition to taking advantage of some of the new segmentation offered by Google+ which allows him to communicate with different elements of his client base,  he has also channelled streams from all media to deliver a sector-specific newsfeed straight to his screen.  At this stage, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to experience a momentary mental image of an all-powerful man with a fluffy white cat on his lap!  Jokes aside,  being in the audience at this point, I was interested to notice a marked shift in how the room was processing what he said.  While many had possibly chosen to attend the session to hear about ‘what they could or should say’, few had possibly stopped to think about social media in terms of ‘what they could hear’.

For me, and for the small businesses I work with, this is where the value of social media lies.  Yes, they use Social Media to ‘broadcast’ their services and ‘communicate’ with their client base.  But the clever ones also use it to actively listen.  Richard, Ann and Chris are the walking advertising banner for this.  They know and demonstrate that communication works both ways.

So, for me, it’s not simply a question of just waking up to Social Media, it’s a question of waking up to all that it can do – both for your business, and for you.    After all, if someone asked you to stop communicating, would you?

Both Ann and Chris have also blogged on this event and the links to these are listed below:

Ann Hawkins – What does it take to be successful on Social Media?

Chris Thomas –Making Social Media relevant to your business

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