Should you participate in social media to further your business? And if you do, can you make money doing it?
Tommy Clifford, manager of digital development at HC Miller in Green Bay, joined the Buzz Live webcast on Monday to give his unique perspective on the subject of social media.
He's known to more than 100 thousand people as the prolific "@tommytrc" on the Twitter microblogging site.
Here, an edited transcript of the conversation.
Q: Other than athletes, movie stars and singers, you probably have more followers on Twitter than anyone?
A: Yes. I have about 125,000 followers. I'm the No. 1 Twitter user, according to Twitter Grader, in the state of Wisconsin.
Q: How about nationally?
A: It goes up and down. Last time I checked, I was in the top 25.
Q: How long have you been using Twitter?
A: I've actually been using social media since 2007. I really hated it when I first started. I didn't get it. People would post little things like "I'm going to get some sausage pizza." It was dull. Once I got it, I understood the tool. I understood the whole social media puzzle and how that fits into it.
Q: What else do you besides tweet?
A: I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I have a YouTube channel. I blog. When you think about a business, they're not just going to do radio, TV, newspaper or yellow pages. They involve all of these other pieces into that strategy.
Q: If you're picking one form of social media for your business, what would it be?
A: I think your top one is to have a business blog. That's probably different than you were expecting. Everybody has something to say. Once your blog is set up, you can post and ask for feedback. If you're a baker, "Hey what do you think of this recipe?" If you're a restaurant, "What do you think of this new thing?" I think that's a really simple tool because it kind of goes back to the whole guest book type of thing in days gone by. You post something and you gain feedback -- that's social media.
Q: So if you have a blog, you should promote it on the other ones?
A: Yes. People go "Tommy, its so amazing. It's overwhelming. How do I do it all?" Start small. Start with something. Maybe Twitter's that something. Maybe YouTube is that something. Certainly the blog can be your something. You're going to get good at it and you're going to go "Ok, now what?" A few weeks or months down the road, it won't be overwhelming anymore. Then do something else. You understand how all these pieces fall together. I like the "crawl, walk, run" mentality.
Q: Give an example of a business that's doing it really well.
A: I like what Harmony Cafe downtown is doing. They have their website, they integrate well with the Appleton Downtown website. They have Twitter, Facebook and they even have Foursquare. After x amount of check-ins you get a coupon for something off on a drink. I like their implementation.
Q: What are some examples of how you should not use social media?
A: Just posting, posting, posting and not listening, listening, listening. Sometimes people will post many times an hour. You reach out to them and you never hear back. That's not how it's supposed to work. It's supposed to be an engagement.
Q: Social media is great for exposure. But give an example of a company that has done something and made a buck.
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