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How do you best utilise social media with integrity?

This is a BLOG, please comment below

In the following I have sought to clarify my overview and describe the experiences which I have gathered working with professional businesses for over twenty years. 

Elizabeth Thomsen on Google+

Before social media became so popular and used by the millions, how often did business owners and employees write about what they were doing in their every day lives and during their work hours? Was anything communicated in writing from the business to the outside world besides presentations of products, services, contracts and service documentation?

Before the advent of Facebook, when a sales professional was on the phone with current clients or new prospects, what did they talk about? Most likely it was not matters that either of them wanted to share in public. So is Facebook better used as an alternative? Has it closed the two way communication system, where you can go searching for people to approach?

The challenge seems to be placed on the business owner or employee who needs to clarify which information is 'social' and which is 'business'. The terms seem to be blended on for example Facebook, maybe because Facebook was originally designed as an underlying support system for Network Marketing, which is a type of business that blends the two.

However Network Marketing is only one business model which is still developing. Looking aside from this type of business, what is the use of social media in business?

From the experiences I have gathered from myself and the many businesses for whom I work, I can identify four areas where it seems relevant and can be seen as good communication to share information:

News relevant to the target group
This is a balance; if a consumer wants to read news, they have the option available to go online and look almost any subject up. It is not the case that a business provides unique news very often. As the walls and inboxes of the target group are most likely already cluttered with newsfeeds and all sorts of information it's of importance that you, as a business, select carefully which information you choose to share, publish or send out.   
Knowledge of interest for the target group
Sharing knowledge requires some work effort and it is up to the business owner or employee to assess what benefit can be achieved from investing time in writing articles or blogs and balance it with assessing the expected degree of interest, also based on evaluation of previous efforts. When you successfully manage to teach your clients subjects which are relevant to their requirements and maybe even form new basis for their future strategies, you grant them a valuable service which will build your foundation of client loyalty further.
Information about new products and services
This information is only of benefit to your target group, if it's genuinely new and not just a 'rewriting' of existing offers. Naturally it's appealing to produce and distribute information about products or services in order to 'remind' your clients, connections and target new contacts that have been added to your network. Differentiated distribution to various target groups is possible to some extent depending on the complexity of your tools, but not all can be reached even with the most complex tools. Facebook for example is very much a 'one size fits all' and it's not easy to target selected groups with this system. Posting news that is relevant and combining your news with a 'reminder' about the products is the key, and this also seeks to encourge members of your target groups to subscribe to your email newsletter. 

Information about offers and discounts
The disadvantage of making discount offers too frequently is that this can undermine the financial basis of the business and in doing so the motivation of the business owner and employees. Everyone wants to be paid for what they are worth and what they require to keep going. Making silly low offers can also be interpreted as if the products or services were over-priced in the first place or a desperate way of generating sales from an empty order book. This then pre-empts the question: "why is the order book empty?" Also, the sort of clients who habitually 'shop around' for offers are not always the target group which the business can benefit from investing its efforts. These 'clients' are often extremely detrimental to a business, and subsequently never exect to pay the full price, always looking for a discount.
The one thing which has proven to be essential is that consumers expect a business to be present in social media and the clearer and more stable this presence appears to be, the better the perceived image. The relevance of information, timing and good social conduct are good guidelines for successful results.

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