The mid-winter blahs have no doubt hit our friends to the north, while we southern Californians bask in February sunshine that’s not too hot and not too cold. For me, this always seems like the perfect time of year to get sociable and share a slice of my “life in the sun” (at least virtually) with friends and colleagues dealing with the ice and cold—not to, ahem, rub it in mind you, but from more of a “wish you were here” sort of perspective.

So why not use your favorite social media platform to share a photo from a sandy beach, or of you engaging in a summer-like outdoor activity (volleyball anyone?), or even an image from some tropical clime? It will do wonders for the spirit and the mood . . . theirs and yours!

Of course, all this sociability got me to thinking about my not-so-old friend, “Social Media” and how it’s become such a big part of everything we do, from staying in touch across the miles and countless other personal interactions, to building brand recognition and awareness.

To that end, enjoy my “Going Social” blog from 16+ months ago. So much has changed, and yet so much has stayed the same . . .

Going Social
(Originally posted on October 4, 2011)

People are talking about you right now—your business, your products, your customer service. Can you afford not to listen? Better yet, how can you become part of the conversation so you can raise awareness of your brand and beef up your marketing efforts?

Social media sites allow friends, colleagues, and acquaintances all over the world to stay better connected, share experiences, and directly (or indirectly) recommend certain products and services to their inner circles. Its power comes from the near instantaneous ability to deliver powerful messages to hundreds, if not thousands of people. After all, what’s more influential than a word-of-mouth recommendation (or condemnation) from a trusted friend or associate?

Want to tell some friends about a new product you tried for the first time? Cut and paste a link, add your two-cents, and share or tweet it. Voila! Now all your friends know what you think about a particular product and whether you’d recommend it to them. Ditto for your favorite books, TV shows, movies, restaurants, vacation destinations, electronic gadgets, etc.

What all this monkey chatter amounts to is “buzz,” and in today’s marketplace, “buzz” is what creates awareness and drives traffic to your Web site or place of business.

As I’ve blogged about on previous occasions, adding social media to your marketing mix entails much more than counting “likes” and “followers.” At Barrel of Monkeyz, we recommend comprehensive social media planning based on strategy (the “what,” “why,” and “where” of what you’re doing), tactics (crafting your “message,” determining “how” best to implement the strategy, and executing your game plan), and measurement (so you know whether you’re successful or not, and how to adjust strategy and tactics if/as needed).

Granted, when many old school business leaders hear about using social media to round out their branding and marketing, they scoff: “How can posting something on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or LinkedIn make one iota of difference to my bottom line?” and “Isn’t it all just a bunch of fluff?” Ironically, these skeptics are often the same people who praise word-of-mouth and referrals as fundamental to their business success. They just aren’t seeing the big picture. They don’t “get” that social media can be (and is) so much more than a collection of self-absorbed postings about what people are doing every moment of their day.

Social media has become the new “water cooler,” a virtual gathering place for people to discuss what’s in, what’s out, what’s hot, and what’s not. A business that does not at least have its finger in the social media pie soon finds itself at a severe disadvantage to those who realize its reach and its power.

What are you doing right now to maximize social media’s impact on your business? What have you tried so far? What’s worked and what hasn’t worked? Gather ‘round and share your experiences here . . . the Barrel O’Monkeyz water cooler awaits.