Rioux said that the demographics of social media sites had evolved rapidly over the last four or five years.
“My husband’s grandfather just got a Facebook account six months ago. He’s on there a lot, commenting on pictures. It’s funny because he doesn’t quite get it – he signs every Facebook post ‘love, Gramps’ like it’s a letter, that kind of thing. But he still uses it, he’s still engaged, he’s looking at other place pages, he’s seeking out information.”
Rioux recommended that people get to know social media first at a personal level, before adopting it for business purposes. After that, she stressed the importance of keeping business and personal use of social media completely separated, with either separate accounts, or completely different platforms. She suggested using Twitter for personal communication and Facebook for business, for example, or vice versa.
Rioux also wanted businesses to know in advance what they wanted to accomplish in using social media sites, and to hang with it.
“Are you trying to drive traffic from there to your website? Are you trying to highlight a product or services you offer? Are you trying to increase your online sales – what is it you’re trying to do? You’ll want to know what that is before you start, and then you’ll want to make a plan for connecting with your audience. It has to be consistent. So pick a day: Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, whatever it is, make sure that you take time to commit to that, because it’s not going to work for you if you don’t work it.”
“Commitment” is an important word for Rioux because, she pointed out, marketing your business on social media costs nothing but time. But the demands of maintaining a viable presence were significant.
Rioux cautioned businesses about putting too much up on social media sites, and immunizing potential customers against marketing in much the same way we’ve trained ourselves to tune out spam. But she suggested that the hazards of doing too little were greater.
“It’s almost better not to have a presence than to have a poor presence.”
Rioux also said it was tempting-but-inadvisable to turn over the duty of maintaining a business presence in social media to a new hire or a young family member. She said, “Would you put your nephew in front of the newspaper or on Raven Radio to represent your business, and to tell the world who you are and the products you offer?”
Rioux said that even college-age interns might lack the knowledge base and business etiquette to be in control of a business’s social media. At a recent tech summit she attended, Rioux said a running joke was that interns were “poison” for a business getting started in social media.
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