Recently I was asked; ‘what’s the biggest challenge I face when talking to clients about SEO?’ It was a question that required no deliberation whatsoever. The answer was simple – convincing some (not all) corporate businesses how best to approach social media.

Let me expand:

A significant portion of corporate businesses believe that Social Media is about pushing their brand and promoting special offers. Their belief is that it should follow the corporate “business like” and ”professional” tone that they display in the boardroom. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The key word here is ‘Social’. Social Media is about engaging your target audience, and interacting with them on a social level. You are entering into their domain, their “social environment”. Therefore to succeed companies must treat social media like a real life social event.

I often use the following synopsis to help clients understand the message I am trying to get across:

Let’s just imagine we are attending a dinner party and it is the first time we have met. I spend the entire evening talking about me and my love for mountain biking. Every time anybody wants to talk about anything else, I turn the topic back to me. By the end of the night everyone round the table will hate me and think I was bland, boring and incredibly self-centred. Chances are; I’d never get an invite to socialise with the group again.

Yet there is one big difference between my dinner party scenario and social media itself. At the dinner party everybody round the table is forced to listen to me talking about myself until the end of the evening when we make our way home. With Social Media, your target audience is not. They can unlike or unfollow you at any time; normally around the point at which you first bore them.Engage social media users like Mr B by interacting with them

Now let’s look at the same scenario with a different approach. Instead of talking about myself and my mountain biking all night, I quickly discover that we all share a common interest – let’s say Spanish food. During the evening I engage everyone in the conversation and we share experiences and details of our favourite dishes. At the end of the night my new acquaintances will walk away with a much better opinion of me. They might even think I was likeable and interesting! They would be much more receptive at that point if I was to ask them to take a look at something.

Social Media is exactly the same, if you take the ‘me, me, me’ approach and try and push your brand, products, or offers down people’s throats you will just push them away.  Instead think about the sort of sites your target audience frequent and the tone of voice they will use when on these sites. Then try and adopt that tone. Try sharing information with them that they will find interesting. Common interests, topical, controversial and comical are always good starting points.

Finally – remember that your customer is always one click from goodbye.