How Do You Choose Which Social Media Tools to Use?

Kristen asked a great question in the comments of my last post, about how to decide what social media information to use without getting distracted.  There is a tremendous amount of information out there regarding social media, and much of it is time consuming.  The tools themselves are also time consuming, and you want to make sure you are investing your time wisely, to get the greatest return on your investment (ROI once again!)

A lot of this goes back to your social media strategy that I talked about in my last post.

What are your objectives for investing in social media in the first place?  After all, there are many things that social media can do for your business:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Gather/respond to customer feedback
  • Find new customers (find out what potential customers are looking for)
  • Find out what your competitors are doing/saying (and what their customers are doing/saying)
  • Identify new market trends
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Find well-qualified employees
  • Etc.

Depending on what your objectives are, this will help determine the social media tools that you use. If you are trying to drive web traffic for example, find out what social media tools others are using to drive traffic.  If you are trying to collect customer feedback, Twitter is a great place to start, but also there may be social networking sites devoted to your customer base.

I recommend that you take some time to observe what tools others in your industry/field are using.  Talk to others.  Join groups on LinkedIn and ask people what social media tools they use, and how it’s working for them.

It’s the very rare company that needs to use EVERYTHING that’s out there.  Unless you have a huge budget to invest in using all these social media tools appropriately, you are much better off targeting a few, well-chosen tools, and using them effectively, than in spreading yourself too thin.  Social media tools are only as good as the person that uses them, engaging people and developing relationships.  So find the tools the make the most sense for your organization, and then make it somebody’s job to spend the time to make those tools work for your organization.

From what I’ve observed in the direct selling industry, the tools that make the most sense are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

  • Facebook is a great place for consultants to connect with family and friends, build relationships, and post the occasional product update.  Companies can have a corporate presence through fan pages for the company and for best-selling products, posting event information, pictures of the company’s work, etc.  Facebook Groups are a great way to connect people in our market.  Facebook is also ideal for potential customers and distributors to relate to the company on a personal level.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to connect with serious-minded distributors.  These are the business builders that take themselves seriously as professionals, and want to connect with others that are successful in direct sales.  The number of groups devoted to the subject of direct selling, and the excellent flow of information being shared, is a great resource for the distributor that wants to make serious money in her direct sales business.  My favorite group for this purpose is the DSWA group on LinkedIn.Executives in the direct selling industry also have the opportunity to learn from one another on LinkedIn.  By finding out what others in the industry have to offer through talents and experience, the industry as a whole is elevated.  I have personally experienced a great deal of value through the connections I have made in this industry through LinkedIn.
  • Twitter is perhaps the most misunderstood tool in the direct seller’s arsenal.  Let me begin by telling you what Twitter is NOT.  Twitter is NOT a tool that can be used for a quick sale, to force people to go see your latest hostess specials, or to broadcast advertisements.  Twitter IS perhaps the most brilliant networking tool ever invented.  By investing time in developing relationships, finding people that value what you have to offer, and by offering value through the flow of information, you can create a great deal of loyalty to your brand.  Let me be clear: this is NOT a quick tool.  It takes time to develop relationships.  However it is an incredible way to reach a large number of people more quickly than you could if you only tried to network exclusively face-to-face.  It also gives you insight into what people are saying, and how you can help.

    Direct sales companies should be using Twitter to understand their customers’ and distributors’ needs, and to respond.  They should be using it to alert customers to company offers (with GREAT restraint), and to offer value to their customers and distributors through the flow of information.  Twitter should be used in conjunction with a corporate blog that provides information that customers need.
    Direct sales distributors should be using Twitter to identify people that need what they have to offer.  They should provide value to these customers by answering questions, providing information, and sharing (again, with GREAT restraint) how their business can meet customers’ stated needs.

The most exciting part of this new social media explosion is the fact that we can FINALLY get a much clearer picture when it comes to what our customers need and want.  We can also more easily identify our customers through searching public profiles and conversations.  We can identify the keywords that our customers most commonly use when looking for our products and services, and then make sure that our websites and other online presences make use of these keywords regularly.

By defining a clear social media objective first, you can then craft a strategy that makes use of the right tools for the job.  If you don’t know or understand which social media tools are available, then hire someone that does, who can help you craft and implement an effective strategy that positions you well to take advantage of all the benefits that a Web 2.0 interactive experience offers.

5 Responses to How Do You Choose Which Social Media Tools to Use?
  1. LeNesha
    March 2, 2009 | 7:24 pm

    I actually came across this post as referenced on the Mogul Mom blog and found it to be right on time. I can absolutely relate and use the information here. I’m in the process of starting a business and decided just last week to write a blog in order to journal my experiences in starting my business. My product is not ready for sales yet, but I definitely want to build relationships with my potential customer base, experts in the business world, and others in my market space.

    Just yesterday, I asked the question seeking advice as to what the best method to promote a blog is. Basically, how do you use social media tools and make them work for you.

    Thanks for the info!

  2. milosmom
    February 27, 2009 | 11:08 am

    Thanks for a more indepth analysis of Twitter. It is THE new program that I am trying out. And you are right. It takes a while to build that relationship.

  3. Leora
    February 27, 2009 | 10:17 am

    Where would a blog fit into this? I see designers, for example, making great use of blogs to show off how creative and versatile they can be. I would think people in services professions (lawyers, financial) might make good use of blogging, though in all honesty one of my clients is an accounting firm, and they barely have time to update their website, never mind blog. I’ve found a lot of talented people via Twitter that post on blogs.

  1. HOW TO: Use Social Media for Your Direct Sales or Network Marketing Business | Direct Sales and Social Media
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