The world right now revolves around Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. You can’t go anywhere without seeing people text – even in business meetings. And have you gone a day without watching an online video – I know I haven’t.

Because of all of this, it’s pretty obvious that things are changing. Cameras are everywhere and in everything, so people become amateur photographers with just a mobile device, and some are quite good at it. Even pro cameras are seeing the change, and are pushing video on their still cameras. What does that mean for the pros? What does that mean for the industry as a whole?

It simply means its time to change.

So what does that change look like? And is it truly possible? The Internet is now been around long enough for a generation to grow up with it. Social is changing the way we use the Internet. With 1 billion people using Facebook, it should be obvious that its not just a fad, it’s a life changing application.

And change is what we will continue to see. So you have two options at this point. Do what you’ve always done and expect the same results. Or try something different.

If you aren’t ready for change, you may just be looking at a failing business. Here are 3 things to help you realize social is here to stay, and without learning more about it and using it, you are putting your business on the track for failure.

1. You don’t participate. I spoke with one old school photographer a while back who was having trouble keeping her business profitable. She refuses to put her work online with the free sites – Flickr, Facebook and YouTube – because she can’t control what information is by her work, and the ultimate image she portrays by having her work available for anyone to see and use in any manner they choose.

Big mistake. People don’t look at a social site as your site. They look at your work, and make a judgment call based on what you share. But they don’t look at you as an extension of the social site. They know YouTube allows you to put anything on there, and your video is just a part of the stream.

You don’t have to start big, and sign up for an account on every social site you know about. Try one, and use it every day. Put one new picture up every day on your Flickr account. Or share one thought on Facebook. The only way to learn more is to actually play with it and become familiar with it.

2. You don’t try something new. Ever heard of the “true” definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you are still trying to get business through the yellow pages, wedding guides, or postcards with decreasing results, stop. They don’t work anymore because people aren’t using and don’t trust that type of marketing.

The true definition of “failing business” is one that does what it always did and expects the improving results. Things change. And you have to change to keep up with it. Granted, today it seems like things change every second of the day, and that can be hard to keep up with.

But things still don’t change that quickly that you can’t choose one new path, and start down it. Start out by thinking small. What one new thing can I do to finish 2010 off with a bang? And go for it.

3. You don’t use it correctly. Ever heard of drive-by spamming? You friend someone, and they head over to your wall and put a sales message for all your friends to see. Big mistake. And if you’ve tried it with people who are truly active in the social world, you were probably deleted as a friend.

Social media is not about sales; it’s about relationships. Which is why on networking sites you build up your friend list, not your selling list. With a friend, you chat about a lot of things: your work, your personal life, your kids, your goals, and your dreams. Social is taking that same philosophy to the online world. Sure, you can occasionally sell to the people you are chatting with. But you also share a variety of other things. Talk about current events. Or the weather. Or a great quote from a person you admire. Read a great book – tweet it and start a book conversation.

Then when someone likes who you are as a person, they find out who you are as a business, and choose to do business with you.

I’ve had clients from New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, China, South Africa, France, Sweden, England, and yes the U.S. all buy my products and use my services because they find out about me online through one of my many channels on social sites. They like what they see, and they end up buying. Maybe not today, but sometime in the future. I’ve received emails “I’ve followed you for two years, and finally have decided to break away from the job and build a business, and now I’m ready to buy your coaching”.

Social works.

Is your goal to be in business five years from today? Then its time to use social as a part of your marketing strategy. Imagine where you could be in 2015 if you just start today.

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