Think You Can Ignore Social Media? Bill Gates and The Pope Disagree.

Twitter was a buzz last week when news broke that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was joining the ranks of the micro-blogging community.  Some were surprised it had taken this long, others sent him welcome wishes and everyone was anxious to hear what the wealthiest man in the world had to say (mostly Thank You’s and information on Haiti relief efforts, thus far).  So what value does Gates see in being part of this community?  He says he’s using twitter to listen.  He wants to hear what people have to say about the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  And with nearly 350,000 followers in less than a week, he should get an earful.

Gates isn’t the only surprising new resident in our social media neighborhood.  Say hello to the Catholic Church.   Pope Benedict XVI has been a driving force behind the creation of a Vatican YouTube channel, applications for Facebook and iPhone and has recently encouraged priests to take up blogging.  So why is an institution often accused of being inflexible and outdated so anxious to hop on the social media bandwagon?  Simple.  The Pope knows where the people are.  They’re online.

Now maybe you’re thinking that the Pope and Bill Gates are in a bit of a different position than you, the small business owner.  While I don’t want you to sell yourself short, you’re probably right.  But there’s still a lesson to be learned here:  you have to listen to your community and reach out to them on their turf.

Listen by setting up social searches and taking to heart the feedback and information you get.   Take your message to your audience by being an an online resource for your community.  As a small business owner, you don’t need to set goals like having a wikipedia-grade resource center.  Stick with what you know.  Do you frequently get asked the same question by a bunch of different people? Write a blog post explaining the answer.  Keep it simple, but quit ignoring it.  The world is talking online and if you’re not listening, you’re putting your business at a disadvantage.

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2 Responses

  1. […] a world where the Vatican has a YouTube channel and Bill Gates is 'tweeting' on Twitter, what should you do, as an Okanagan business owner or marketing […]

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