BUSINESSES in Stony Stratford were given the lowdown on the use and misuse of social media sites during a specially organised seminar.
The Stony Means Business networking event saw a record turnout to hear Julia Doherty of Green Umbrella, on the subject of the seven deadly sins of social media.
Julia’s company is based in Daventry and she swears by the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
She says having a strategy involving social media helped her survive in business during the recession. She has been using social media sites for four years.
“Social media sites are just that,” Julia told her audience upstairs at The Crown pub, in Market Square. “You need to engage with people.”
It is essentially the same concept as meeting someone face-to-face and building up trust.
She slammed automatic twitter responses as a bad idea. They are messages that are sent if someone becomes a follower.
“Twitter is meant to be a conversation. If an automatic tweet comes back and you reply to it but have no response, that’s not the point,” she said.
But she added that scheduled tweets, where messages are programmed to be sent out at certain times, were ok as they give you a presence.
She told her audience that broadcasting a sales pitch on social media is a massive mistake.
“Twitter is like the happy hour down the pub,” she said.
And every time someone posts on social media it helps with website searches. “Fifty per cent of Google searches pick up social media,” she said.
But Julia added it is also vital to monitor what is said on social media sites to protect your reputation.
She explained that after noticing a comment on Facebook about poor service at her employment agency, she rang up the person who had posted it to find out what the issue was.
“He admitted that what he posted was not true and wrote a retraction,” she added.
But Julia added that sometimes other people tell them that they are wrong.
It’s also wrong to assume that social media sites can bring immediate results. Julia added: “You need patience. It could be six to 12 months before you start reaping rewards.
“It is all about participation, making comments, interacting and personalisation. People buy into you because of who you are.”
She added it was important to make sure that your profile gives the correct impression. Having a professional photo taken is a must and the profile description must be the equivalent of a pitch for business.
The most important thing, she said, was to have fun. But she warned: “You must have policies in place to stop it being misused.
“Social media is a dialogue, not a monologue but you must get involved in the conversation. If you leave it two years, you will be playing catch-up.”
l Find out more about Stony Means Business by visiting the group at http://stonymeansbusiness.co.uk