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    Posted February 26, 2014 by
    Kowloon, Hong Kong

    Social Media – So Much More than Pictures of Dogs

    I have a super-cute Cocker Spaniel puppy named Tyrion. Just yesterday, my lovely lady took a photograph of him wearing sunglasses and posted it on Facebook, tagging me. Within minutes, Tyrion had more than 20 people “Liking” his photo and commenting about what a beautiful boy he is. Tyrion is a beautiful boy and we adore him. His photograph says it all really. Unfortunately, many professionals think that’s what social media is all about – posting pictures of your dog on Facebook.

    Because I sell social media training as part of my core business, I am accustomed to being asked by professional service providers about the value of social media to their practices. I frequently find that professionals have a negative view of social media, and are somewhat myopic about it where their business lives are concerned. People will often make comments to the effect that Facebook is only good for arguing with complete strangers, or that Twitter is a stupid waste of time. There was a time when that world view reflected my own. Now, social media literally drives my business.

    In the dark distant past (that would be less than a decade ago) the internet was very much a one way means of communication. You put up a website, optimized it for visibility in search engine results, and told your story as well as you could to those who visited your web pages. It was very much like having a brochure or catalogue in a digital format, with no real opportunity for customer engagement. Social media has changed all of that profoundly, providing a literal gateway to customer engagement. Unfortunately, most professional practices have not yet caught on, and caught up with this seismic shift.

    Every professional knows that the greatest source of new business is referrals. Satisfied clients tell their friends and associates about their happy experiences with you. Those friends and associates get in contact, and before you know it you have a new client. The longer you stay in business, the more this cycle repeats itself and the stronger your client base grows. It can take years, but building referrals is a time-honored and surefire way of building a great professional practice. It works. Your practice is built just by people talking to one and other.

    The primary advantage of social media lays in the number of people that your happy clients can express their satisfaction to, as well as the speed with which they can do that. Let’s go back for a moment to my dog Tyrion, and the 20 + Likes he received on Facebook yesterday. I have around 150 family and friends on my personal Facebook page. My lovely lady comes from a very large family and is far more sociable than me. She has close to 500 Facebook friends. Facebook has a complex algorithm that determines who sees what you post. Without digging into how that algorithm works, we can safely assume that around 100 of our combined friends saw Tyrion on their Facebook feeds – and that 20 of them thought his photo was cute enough to “Like”.

    Each one of those 20+ people who “Liked” that picture of Tyrion effectively made their own Facebook friends aware of Tyrion too, meaning that Tyrion started to get Likes from people what we don’t even know. This is exactly how things go viral in a social media environment. People Like and Share images, videos and other content that they think will be of value to their network of family, friends and associates. My guess is that as I write this blog, that picture of Tyrion may have been seen by thousands of people, and will get even more Likes today and tomorrow. The trick of course is creating content that people want to Like, Share, Tweet, Pin, etc. In professional social media circles, that content is known as “share worthy” content.

    As a professional, there is bound to be something that you know more about than other people in your field. If you’re an accountant, maybe you know more about how to stream investment income to the lower taxed family members of your clients. If you’re an IT consultant, maybe you have particular expertise with building complex databases. Reality is that there is going to be something that you know enough about that you can produce an article, or a video, or something else that people will want to share with others on social media – and when they do – they share it with everyone in their network – not just a single friend. Best of all, social media provides you with an opportunity to engage directly with those people who Like, Share, Tweet and Pin the content you’ve created, and the extended network that they’ve shared that content with.

    The truth is that accountants, lawyers, engineers or any other professional can benefit enormously by becoming engaged with social media. Within your own social media network, and the extended social media network of the people you are connected to lays an untapped goldmine of prospective clients. It’s up to you to gather your tools and go to dig there.
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