It still comes as a big surprise when a client drops into conversation that "social media isn't really used in their industry". It happened again last month when traveling by train with a good friend who runs a construction business. It wasn't that he had never thought of using the social channel that left me open-mouthed, it was that he thought that "being in an old fashioned type business like construction meant that it was unlikely that any of his customers, suppliers or architects would ever be on Twitter or Facebook".
I have two stock responses to this type of statement, and depending on how well I know their industry will determine which one to use:
- Did you know that such-and-such [a competitor] is not only using social media to promote a service, they are getting their followers and friends to spread the word for them?
- For a business like yours, have you ever considered Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, NearMe, Google+... etc ?
It is a shame that so many people think social media is limited to Facebook and Twitter .
Social media is more than just Twitter and Facebook
In our industry, we are always keeping an eye on trends, new tools and new ways of delivering messages. When we talk about social media, we don't mean opening a Facebook page or Twitter account and blindly sending out content on a whim. We consider how target audiences use the internet and based on their behaviours we tailor social media solutions that will get them sharing and engaging with you.
Take for example my friend's construction business. He didn't know whether his clients used social media, nor did he consider that prospective clients are likely to engage within their social networks to check whether his construction business would be suitable or even capable. If his business is good enough, someone, somewhere will talk about it, and conversely and just as importantly, they will if it isn't good enough.
The trick for all businesses including my friend's is to create content that will help others spread the word in a positive way. For example could the business benefit from a 60-second video sharing a brilliant service and/or results on a YouTube or Vimeo channel? What about a Pinterest page full of completed projects, general ideas, inspirations and best practices? How about a Google map interface where completed projects are plotted, visualised and comments enabled? Wouldn’t it be nice if current and prospective clients could easily gain access to such content?
If any of these 'off-the-cuff' suggestions generate a positive response from you, then there is a good chance a healthy number of your target audience, prospective clients and associates are on at least one if not more of the various social media platforms. Even old fashioned, or technology delayed industries, are still likely to be impacted by social media activities.