The questions I get asked the most these days when talking to business owners about social media are “Do I need a Social Media Strategy?” or “Is it valuable for my business?”, and these are questions that you as a business owner should ask, because there are ramifications on you and your staff when you embark on social strategy.

Your office culture is a big factor in the success of a social network strategy, because social media in itself is about sharing, and if any of your staff are not willing to share information, then it makes it a lot harder to get buy in from them, it also impacts on their time, and if you run a busy office, this can be a real issue in getting your strategy off the ground. There are also other priorities that come up, but that is a different story for another time, so let’s get back to the original reason for this article.

There’s a great quote from Seth Godin that I’d like to share with you about  social networking.

“Networking is always important when it’s real and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake. What the Internet has allowed is an enormous amount of fake networking to take place.”

One of the biggest mistakes that most businesses make when they start a social networking strategy, is to self promote.It’s very tempting to push your service and product or tell everyone how good you are straight away. You suddenly have this new marketing tool available to you and you’re going to shout out your strengths from the rooftops.

That’s what we’ve done in the past, but not today, your focus with social media really should be on building relationships and less on self promotion. When you think about how this applies in real life, most of us would spend time building relationships with our clients and gaining their trust, and this is exactly the same for social media.

Focus more on building your network one fan at a time and work on relationships not on self promotion. Business is built on relationships, and so is your social media strategy.

Author Mike Andrew is a technology consultant to small business and operates a web consultancy that covers areas such SEO, social media strategy and Internet marketing.

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