Chris Brogan has a business card with two words on it: Stop talking.
He told this to a crowd of about 300, who had come to the Free State Social to listen to Brogan talk about how to master the art of social media.
His first piece of advice in navigating the world of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare is to “grow bigger ears.” Among the initial steps into social media should be “listening” to what people are saying about your business and its competitors.
“Spend your time figuring out what your customers want,” Brogan told the audience at The Oread hotel.
Brogan, author of “Social Media 101” and president of New Marketing Labs, was the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Free State Social, a social media conference sponsored by The World Company and LJWorld.com.
He used the movie “The Fight Club,” his mother’s cooking and the Mafia and Wal-Mart’s distribution strategies to make his points. His take-home message was that businesses need to do a better job of connecting with customers and giving customers information that is helpful.
And, Brogan’s idea of connecting isn’t self-promoting posts that include links to a company’s Web site or introductory comments that push products.
“Because we don’t do that when we talk to people at parties,” he said. “Just keep asking yourself that question. And you will make much fewer stupid mistakes on the web.”
Instead, he recommends commenting on others’ blogs and promoting other peoples’ products 12 times as much as your own.
“If what you say on a comment box is sort of interesting, then not one person, but lots of people will come and see what you are talking about,” he said.
Brogan offered a formula for managing social media time: Two hours a day and 25 percent listening, 50 percent connecting and 25 percent publishing.
“Listening is important, but you need to do something with it,” he said.
He also gave the crowd four questions to take home:
• How do you want to share your ideas?
A website should be seen as a home base, allowing companies to go to the frontier of Twitter and Facebook where the people are, Brogan said.
• How do we give our ideas handles?
Brogan points to Apple, a company that has been accused of not being into social media, but one that has helped equipped social media. Businesses need to figure out how to package ideas that customers can “take and run with,” Brogan said.
• What story are we telling?
• What direction do we want to go in?
Brogan also gave predictions for emerging trends: social client relationship management, mobile devices and social communities that are smaller, more private and focused than Facebook and Twitter.
As for mobile devices, Brogan said every time a company’s website doesn’t work with a mobile device, it loses business or an opportunity.
“That’s a problem,” he said.