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What my gynecologist can teach your business about social media

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Social Media

Today’s guest post is from Carol Roth. Carol writes Unsolicited Business Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small-business owners, at CarolRoth.com You can find her on Twitter as @caroljsroth.

To say social media is on fire right now would be like saying that chocolate is tasty — a total understatement.  However, when something is so in vogue in the realm of business, it often leads to a lot of misunderstanding and misuse, as well as wasted time, money and effort.

You may think this story borders on “TMI” (too much information), but it is really the perfect illustrative example of a social-media strategy gone wrong.

A few weeks ago, I was making my yearly checkup appointment with my gynecologist (the TMI part) and was put on hold while they were checking potential dates. While I was on hold, one of those automated phone messages came on, and a booming man’s voice said, “Be sure to head over to Facebook and become of a Facebook fan of Dr. Gynecologist and the gynecologist practice!”

Now, privacy issues aside, I cannot imagine how much free time I would need to have on my hands to want to become a Facebook fan of my gynie.  The whole thing seemed absolutely absurd to me.

The point is, not every social-media strategy is going to be appropriate for every type of business. Plus, before you can pick a social-media strategy, you have to think of your customer and what the value proposition is for them. Social media is a way to engage customers, not to give your business a “shout out.”

If the booming voice had asked me to sign up for their e-mail list so I can be kept up to date on the latest wellness strategies for women, they would have been offering me a relevant potential benefit. I may not have done it, but at least I would have considered it, and I would have noted them offering something of value to me. Or, they could have offered for me to join a discussion group on preventative medicine, provided discounts on future prescriptions or asked me to join a free online seminar on nutrition — all things that would be focused on me as a client instead of Dr. Gynie trying to be a rock star.

So, before you rush into any social-media strategy, think about your customers — who are they and what needs and wants are you fulfilling for them?  Then you can figure out social media and other online strategies to meet those customer needs. This is the best way you can ensure an actual ROI on your social-media investments.

Image credit, FANDER09, via iStock