Last week I was honored to lead a teleseminar on social media for John Assaraf’s OneCoach, Intl. OneCoach, a leading provider of business growth and business coaching services, works with entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses and lead extraordinary lives. John Assaraf , CEO of OneCoach, understands the power of social media and its value as an integral part of a business owner’s marketing strategy.

OneCoach VP of Training and Development, Adrian Ulsh, moderated the call. Our shared objective was to provide members with a basic understanding of social media and its power as a marketing tool. We started by answering this question:

What is social media?

One definition (from Bradley Will’s Purpose Driven Social Media) states that social media is a “term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audios.”

Unofficially, social media is the conversation people are having with each other online. The term “social media” is also used to describe the many tools and sites being developed to facilitate these conversations.

Then we added a list of some of the types of social media being used today.

Social media can include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Blogs
  • Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Microblogging sites like Twitter
  • Social bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious and Stumbleupon
  • Video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo
  • Social Local sites like Google Local Business Center and  Yahoo! Local
  • Forums and Discussion Boards
  • Text messaging (social media growth outside the U.S. is in mobile devices)

According to John Assaraf, himself a highly successful businessman who has built and sold several multimillion dollar businesses, small business owners often “don’t know what they don’t know.” This is true of entrepreneurs and social media. Almost everyone has heard the term “social media” by now. Most don’t know what it refers to or, if they do, how to use it for their business. So next we asked:

Why should you care about social media? And we answered: because it’s where your customers are.

As B.L. Ochman wrote in a post for BusinessWeek, “Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.”

The video below from the social media blog, Socialnomics, presents a short and compelling list of reasons why you should care about social media. If you haven’t already seen it, take moment and watch it. We’ll wait.

During the call Adrian and I also discussed one of the compelling reasons business owners must understand social media: customer service and customer complaints. In the past, an unhappy customer would tell 15 people, who would tell 15 people, who would tell…you get the idea. In today’s digital world people are updating their social networks from their iPhones and Blackberries. Complaints posted to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook are seen by thousands–sometimes almost immediately.

Many of us have viewed the YouTube video about United Airlines and the broken Taylor guitar. That customer complaint has been viewed 5,343, 474 times. 21,779 people have taken the time to comment. A Google search for United Airlines lists “United Breaks Guitars” as the third result on the first page. Powerful.
United Airlines search results 9-09

Social media makes it easy for anyone to say anything. Anytime they want. You need to know what is being said about your business.

We cited several other examples of customer complaints during the call but this story makes the point nicely. If you missed the video, go back to my home page and watch it. It’s short and entertaining and has been very effective.

Next we talked about how business owners are using social media marketing. Many people think using social media to build business is just for the big brands like Zappos and Dell Computer. Not so. Small and mid-size business owners all over the world are using social media marketing to:

  • Generate exposure for their company
  • Build their brand
  • Monitor their reputations
  • Manage relationships
  • Increase traffic to their websites
  • Build communities
  • Develop qualified leads
  • Create new opportunities
  • Conduct market research
  • Provide customer service
  • Transform customers into brand evangelists
  • Publicize events, new products and services
  • Increase sales
  • Built marketing lists (free of charge)
  • Dominate local marketplaces
  • Increase reach and introduce products and services to global markets

At this point we interjected a word of caution:

Social media marketing does not mean broadcasting your marketing message using social media vehicles. This is not just another marketing channel.

Social media is about:

  • Listening
  • Responding
  • Conversing
  • Adding value
  • Sharing information
  • Building relationships
  • Recommending others
  • Testing new ideas
  • Being authentic and transparent

If you treat social media marketing exactly like traditional marketing you will fail miserably.

By now many of our listeners were wondering:

What is my role and where do I start?

As a business owner, one of the most important things you can do for your business today is to understand how social media works and how you can use it in your marketing efforts. OneCoach members can take part in the upcoming teleseminars and learn how to use social media in their marketing. Our next call is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9th at 11:00 AM PT. We will show you how to do one of the most important things you can do (easily, right away and for FREE) to get more traffic to your website, come up in local searches faster and provide special coupons for your customers.

Not a OneCoach member? No problem. Contact us at 1.800.971.3824 to schedule a strategy session. Let’s talk about your business objectives and how you can use social media marketing as a tool to help you achieve them. You can also find us on Twitter or join our Facebook fan page. We’d love to have you!