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July 12, 2011
Falling Into Social Media
Now, I’m a sociable person. I have friends around for barbecues and smile at my neighbours, but until a year ago my connections were all 3D. Then, I started my own business and looked into social networking. Before I knew it, I felt strong bonds with my clients and "fans" online; people who now feel just as much of a friend to me as treasured pals who have had to steer me home from the pub in the heady days of my youth or who’ve been part of my life’s ups and downs.
My business has gone from strength to strength through the power of social media. I don’t need to advertise very often, as my clients tell others how brilliant I am. It’s like we’re one giant, client-referring, happy, online family. And it’s amazing how much the power of social media can grab you. I’ve lost hours of productive working time to Tweeting and checking out the Facebook profiles of others. I always check out any new professional contacts on Linkedin and can really understand what a person’s like from their blog posts. 
People argue that their website is the measure of their company. I disagree. I want to see some personality online, not just a corporate, cold page of marketing text.  Similarly, I try to give as much as I get. My online pals are usually under no illusion about what mood I’m in from what I post and they get to share in any successes I have, and most are there to support me when things go pear-shaped. They can glean from all this just what it is I’m good at and in what areas I’m full of flannel. Nearly all of them have businesses online too, and whenever I’ve needed to outsource I know instantly who to come to.
I went from someone who, only a year ago, used to think that social media stopped at letting old school friends know that your crazy, unflattering perm did eventually grow out, to someone who can’t get through a meal without reading emails that ping into my Blackberry box, so I can definitely say I’m converted. 
I’m converted so much so that I offer social media services to my clients. I’m not an expert by any means, but I know the power of a hashtag on Twitter and how to jump on a trending bandwagon, as well as raising company profiles through blogs like these. And if there are companies who don’t understand this, then they need help from people like me — because social media isn’t going anywhere other than into the stratosphere.
Getting a job in social media, or clients in this field, means using it. It’s your portfolio, your trumpet to blow, your way of getting in front of the people who may need to outsource overflow work. For those potential clients that don’t have a clue, contacting them and showing your honed profiles on all the popular platforms is akin to passing them your business card. That’s after you’ve convinced them why they need social media in the first place.
And that’s the problem. If a company is doing just fine (thank you very much) without social media in their lives, why would they even think of entering into a virtual world?  However, when you offer up statistics such as:
72% of social media users search for new products online.

…it’s clearly a great way to reach new markets and gain new customers. Perhaps the most influential statistic of all is that:
50% of social media users have purchased a product or service because of online content they’d read.
Not because of the website’s pretty pictures. Not particularly because of the product’s price or location of the company — because of the extra information they’d gleaned through social media, which they wouldn’t have found had the company not embraced this style of networking in their marketing strategy.
Statistics such as these are very hard for any “switched-on” company to ignore. And the best businesspeople understand that if they don’t know how to do something, they should find someone who does — and this could be you. Finding your perfect role within social media should be easy. There’s more than enough to go around.
Just look at me: I fell INTO social media, and then I fell FOR social media as a way of securing business. The side product of meeting new friends and finding out what celeb is gallivanting with which other celeb is just a bonus.

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Diane Hall is a freelance writer, author, proofreader, and VA who considers social media a specialism. She has two companies, www.thewritinghall.co.uk and www.clericalandcontent.co.uk, and lives in West Yorkshire in the UK with her husband and two daughters. She claims her work is a breeze compared to her other role as mother to two demanding kids.
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