Posts Tagged ‘Networking Strategy’
The Social Media world is a fast paced and ever-changing environment. In order to succeed in understanding this rapidly expanding world, it helps to keep up with new statistics and facts. The most efficient way of staying ahead is by simply staying involved. If one is consistently interacting with their social media outlets, it undoubtedly becomes easier to grasp new habits and trends.
Over the last year, social media has evolved into a much larger concept. Facebook is still considered the most successful social-media invention to date, with 23% of Facebook users checking their accounts at least 5 times a day. Other sites are giving Facebook a run for its money; Twitter is vigorously recruiting new users at an optimal speed, snagging a whopping 53% more users in less than one year while Facebook users have only increased by 19%.
New trends such as Instagram and Pinterest have become immensely popular recently, allowing users to upload pictures to share their unique story or showcase their brand visually. Businesses are taking advantage of these social-media sites to attract customers with a variety of available product pictures, and in result approximately 1/2 of social media users say Facebook and Pinterest have influenced them on previous purchases.
It has been suggested that the recent jump in social-media activity is due to mobile use. Mobile sharing has become immensely popular among users. Social-media users are no longer required to stay in one location to access their various sites. Mobile devices provide the necessities needed to complete most general social-media tasks such as posting pictures, sharing your status and location and sending/receiving Emails. This light-weight independence is an attractive characteristic to the majority of users while traditional options, such as desktop and laptop computers are not as convenient.
Keeping abreast of recent changes and new technology in social media can be difficult at times, but if one understands the social channels they are targeting, one has a much better chance that their specific social-media campaign will succeed. Social media is mostly user-friendly but at times can be confusing. One must know the difference between simply using social media and using social media to incorporate the right aspects into the DNA of the brand one has created. Social media changes every day. It is imperative to understand the changes to ensure brand success online.
You can find quick tips to improve your social-media presence on our Facebook page here
It’s easy to mistake social media for a semi-frivolous, Internet-based time waster and give it half an effort. After all, how can you be serious about your business and spend any part of your day tweeting? So, if you can’t yet bring yourself to try and reap business benefits from Facebook or Twitter, try LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most popular business-oriented, social-media site on the web and offers a way to focus on business while making connections online. Unfortunately, it also requires a little more attention to detail than it does to tweet what you had for lunch.
Here are some tips for beginners …
Finish What You Started: It’s one thing to leave your likes and dislikes off your personal Facebook page. Nobody will fault you if you don’t divulge your preference for lighthearted, romantic comedies. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is more like an online resume. So treat it as such. Leaving important information off your profile – such as past work experience, a bio, a photo, or specialties – will not only make you look like you can’t finish a job but it’ll also be less likely to catch anyone’s attention. And it isn’t only job-seeking college students who benefit from the social-networking site. There are more than 100 million members on LinkedIn. Which means, the more info you include, the more likely you’ll meet prospective clients or referral partners among that 100 million.
Invite Your Address Book: Okay, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, LinkedIn offers a way to import all of your contacts from your email address book. But be careful. After all, you’re setting up a professional network. In other words, you may not need to connect with your mother, old friends from high school, or your cousin Larry. Save the personal connections for your personal pages. Keep focused and professional.
Participate: So you’ve filled out your profile and imported any business contacts to your LinkedIn profile. The next step is getting active on the site. LinkedIn offers the ability to join as many industry-related groups and discussions as you wish. So do it. Search groups by category or keyword and focus on your region or industry. Once you’ve joined, ask a question or answer an existing query. If nothing else, you may learn something from someone. At best, you’ll make new contacts within your industry and region that could lead to business down the line.
Recommend To Be Recommended: On LinkedIn, recommendations bolster your credibility. After all, if you’ve got a lot of recommendations, you’re most likely trustworthy and not out to scam, spam, or swindle anyone. But how do you get them? Well, start by recommending people you’ve had positive business experiences with. Once you’ve made some recommendations, it’ll be a lot easier to get some in return.
Like the holiday season, social media offers great promise but also a high risk of offending and angering the very people you hoped to gather together. If done incorrectly, your online fans and followers will turn on you and ruin your expectations of online success. However, with a few reminders, some forethought, and a focus on finding a consistent tone and producing quality content, your dreams of social-media success can be as easily attainable as making a Christmas wish list.
Here are some hints and tips for bettering your online presence and your chances for success …
Your Past: The first place to start when beginning a social-media campaign is with former clients, customers, and partners. If you had a good business relationship with someone in the past, chances are they won’t be reluctant to join your page and like your posts. They aren’t, however, going to be as interested in marketing pieces and sales pitches. That means, you’ll have to have content that is both interesting and professional, but that will also appeal to a wide audience. Having something to share that can interest both your past clients and potential business is key. Keeping your former customers close to you is an excellent way to boost word of mouth and repeat business.
Your Present: This will be where you place the greatest amount of focus. After all, chasing down potential leads and turning window shoppers into clients is where the money’s at. That makes this is an important category to cater to when thinking about how to approach your social-media pages and profiles. After all, a lot of these people have expressed interest in your services and may be ready to bite. That doesn’t mean, however, that they want to be hit with an inbox full of reminders that you’d like their business. Don’t seem desperate. Instead, approach these social-media contacts as though you’re interested in them rather than just their money.
Your Future: This is the area with the most amount of promise. After all, the idea that you can reach across the vast and varied Internet and pull in new contacts just by keeping a Facebook or Twitter account seems both unbelievable and undeniably attractive. Social media and the Internet at large have given businesses a much greater ability to reach out to their community and industry. If you keep your online presence focused on business and respect people’s boundaries, you will no doubt come across new clients you wouldn’t have otherwise. But, much like in the previous cases, you have to be considerate and not abuse your contacts by overloading them with unwelcome advertising or incessant solicitation. Follow common sense and treat people the way you’d like to be treated.
Social-media success can sometimes seem like winning the lottery. After all, the potential payout far exceeds the cost to get started. But unlike the lottery, there are social-media strategies you can utilize that will increase your odds of success.
Here are a few ways to increase your chances of winning big with social-media …
Update, Update, Update: Social media requires you to be social. And updating your pages is the online equivalent of socializing. It’s how you start a conversation with your contacts. It’s also how you create a community, attract visitors to your page, and brand your business. In other words, what you post on your blog or Facebook page will help define your business for newcomers but it will also begin a conversation with your existing clients and customers. Keep a consistent flow of content and you’ll be rewarded with increased activity on your pages. Leave nothing more than your address on your page, and you’ll be ignored. It’s that simple, really. In order to win the prize, you have to participate.
Give And You Shall Receive: One of the quickest ways to draw attention to your page is to pay attention to other people’s pages and profiles. This means, spending some time perusing the pages of your contacts and clients and leaving a compliment or comment while you’re there. Recommend someone on LinkedIn. Thank someone for a recent positive business interaction. Follow their feed. Like a link. Just like in the real world, people on social media respond well to kindness, flattery, and friendliness. Reach out and you’re likely to see them return the favor. Don’t sit on your hands waiting for the public to discover you. Initiate.
Be Dynamic And Compelling: This doesn’t mean you have to change your personality or act like someone other than who you are. It does mean you should try to encourage interaction by posting things that are both interesting and relevant to your client base. It also means you should use pictures, post videos, ask questions, post surveys, and customize your pages wherever possible. The more dynamic your online presence, the more likely people will leave your pages with a positive impression of you and your business. It shows a bit of effort and care. It also shows you’re reliable, consistent, available, and interested in creating a dialogue with your customers.
Among social-media sites, Twitter has the least obvious professional application. It’s character limitation and cutesy lingo make it seem like a stretch for someone hoping to reap business benefits from social networking. Still, there are a number of inventive ways to use Twitter that will make it easier to find contacts, research your local market, and connect with industry leaders.
Here are some tips for using Twitter more effectively …
Use Keywords: On Twitter, people attach hashtags to particular words or phrases to make their tweets easier to find. Attaching a hashtag means people searching for that topic will be more likely to find that tweet. It also make eavesdropping on Twitter users even easier. Search for a keyword or phrase associated with your business and get an instant report on what people are thinking and saying about your industry. Use what you learn to craft better business strategies and address your customers’ needs and concerns. Using Twitter for field research doesn’t even require an account. It’s the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to use Twitter for business.
Go Local: Apply that same lesson to your region, city, or state and you can quickly find Twitter users in your neighborhood and community. This is a good way to boost your followers and make new contacts. Find some local Twitter users who either fit your target demographic or are influential or active in the community, then follow their feed. Chances are many of these new contacts will follow you back. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself and begin a conversation. You are, after all, neighbors. Keep it casual and conversational. Soon these contacts will become online friends and their word of mouth and familiarity with you and your business will benefit your bottom line.
Reach Out: It can’t hurt to take the first step. Reaching out and following people on Twitter is a quick way to generate some goodwill and gather some fans of your own. Finding people in your area or industry is a good start but don’t be afraid to also follow feeds of people and entities beyond your immediate grasp as well. By which we mean, follow the local newspapers, city leaders, national media sites, industry trade groups, and any or anything else that pertains to your business and interests you and, presumably, your followers. As always, keep it professional and family friendly. Ultimately, the more diverse and active your Twitter page is, the better chance you’ll have at making it work for you and your business.
At its core, social media is about communication. It’s about keeping contact with friends, family, clients, customers, and whoever else you’d like on the list of people you keep in the loop. For business purposes, that means staying close to your list of professional contacts. Sounds easy enough. But the trick is doing it in a way that doesn’t make you a nuisance or an annoyance.
Here are some thoughts and tips …
It’s A Conversation: That’s the easiest way to think about your social-media campaign. You’re trying to start an ongoing conversation with a group of people that are connected to your business. These are people that you’re either currently doing business with or hope to be doing business with in the near future. In other words, you want to keep it professional and geared toward making a case for your services. For example, if your business was blankets, you’d post links to stories about how cold this winter will be rather than turning your blog, page or profile into an advertisement. In other words, everyone has an interest in the weather but someone who isn’t currently in the market for a new blanket is going to get tired of receiving your ads rather quickly. Then, when they do need a blanket, they will have already deleted and forgotten about you. Keep it conversational, interesting, and geared toward your audience.
It’s A Two-Way Street: In order to achieve some success with social media, you have to get your contacts involved and participating. Not only does this help them familiarize themselves with you and your business, it also provides an opportunity to do market research and receive feedback. For starters, you should probably interact a little with the social-media profiles and pages of your contacts. Reply or comment on something they posted or “like” an article or picture they uploaded. This encourages reciprocity and generates some goodwill. Also, ask for opinions and feedback from your online fans and followers. It will provide you with ideas for bettering your business, encourage interaction, and make your contacts feel included and valued. Which is, after all, the whole idea.
It’s Not A Chore: The trouble a lot of businesses have when starting a social-media campaign is their approach. If you’re trying to establish a personal relationship with your clients, contacts, and partners, you don’t want them to feel like you’re doing it out of obligation. Enjoy yourself and it’ll shine through. Try to have some fun with your online properties and it’ll be noticeable. That doesn’t mean posting unprofessional pictures or off-color jokes. It means approaching your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page the same way you would approach a phone call with a client. You wouldn’t mumble your words or seem unhappy to hear from them, you’d try to put your best foot forward and make them feel appreciated and eager to do business with you.
Finding social-media advice online is as easy as finding cars in a parking lot. Which is to say, there are plenty of gurus and experts hoping to teach you how to maximize your potential and rack up huge numbers of followers and fans. But – despite their expertise and savvy – the best advice is usually just common sense. To that end, we’ve compiled 9 common sense tips to help you become a more successful and effective social-media marketer.
Respond: Answer questions, thank people even if it’s just a few words. Make it a two-way conversation, listen to what others have to say and appreciate suggestions and feedback. It will make what you do even better.
Know What You’re Doing: If you’re going to establish yourself on social media, get involved in social media. Start your own Twitter account, Facebook page, read blogs, and get engaged. That’s the best way to understand the culture, tone, best practices, and protocol.
Add Value: Share tips, tricks, and insights. People’s time is precious and they need to get something out of the time they spend on your page. Make listening to you worth their while.
Drive Traffic To Your Website: Adding links in appropriate places within posts, and occasionally in Tweets, can drive potential business to your official website.
Your Brand Is Everything, Everywhere: Your business brand is everything and anything you do. From your logo, colors, tagline, and Twitter background to your blog header, website, profile pic, and bio. Your brand is everything you post, anywhere you’re represented. Be cautious and consistent.
Integrate: All your marketing efforts should work together to present consistent brand messages and lead to your ultimate marketing goals. You should also cross-promote your various marketing efforts.
Be Active: Update your status, share, comment, send invitations to connect, start group discussions, answer questions, and comment on other people’s pages and profiles. It’s called social media for a reason.
Seek Feedback: If nothing else, social media should be an effective way of finding out what your customers and clients think of your business. When was the last time you asked them what they’d like to see on your page? Whether you’re asking them to vote on your next post or to choose a product or service they’d like you to incorporate into your business, don’t underestimate the value of feedback.
Understand Your Objective: Before jumping on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other network, ask yourself “Why?” Each marketing effort should be clearly and logically tied to core business objectives. Are you using this network for customer service, brand awareness, or community building? And what does success look like? Having more fans or followers is not really a viable metric. Having a more engaged community could be.
There’s a popular notion that Facebook created the idea of sharing and transformed the Internet into a purely social experience. But anyone with a memory – and an email inbox – can tell you that there was plenty of sharing happening over the web long before Facebook came along and made it possible for anyone to share anything with anyone. In olden times, we shared information with our contacts through email. And, in fact, most of us still do.
Here are some email-marketing ideas to boost your social-media presence …
One Thing Leads To Another: Nearly 50 percent of surveyed companies said they planned to use email to grow their social-media channels. And, when you think about it, why wouldn’t you? Separating and segregating your marketing efforts means limiting the number of contacts you’re reaching with each individual effort. Why limit your Facebook activity to your Facebook followers? Promote your Facebook page through email and you’ll be attracting attention from not only your current followers but also those who aren’t yet familiar with your page. It’s a great way to boost activity and the number of fans, followers, contacts, and clients visiting your online properties.
Getting A Head Start: The simplest way to incorporate your email contact list into your social-media marketing campaign is to invite your address book to join your page. Most social-media pages have an automated prompt to send out an invitation. If that leaves you feeling cold, write up a personal note saying you’ve started a page or profile for your business and encourage them to visit your new page. Getting your pages off to a quick start requires some initial activity. Relying on current contacts and past clients is a great way to start building a community while you’re still learning the ropes.
Keeping it Going: Once you’ve invited your contacts to join your page, keep them updated about what’s happening through an occasional email promo. If you’ve written a particularly informative blog post or started a contest on one of your social-media pages, send out an email announcing it. Also, incorporate the addresses of your social-media pages into your email signature. Promoting your social-media pages through email doesn’t always have to be a direct plea or solicitation. Adding links to your online properties is a great way to get people to visit and like your pages. Ultimately, integrating your email and social-media marketing campaigns requires a little creativity and commitment. Keep at it and, with a little common sense and commitment, you’ll soon see results.
A jazz musician needs to first understand the basic framework of a song before they can effectively improvise over its chord progression and melody. In other words, they need to understand the foundation of the composition before they can begin to build upon it. In much the same way, social-media success requires a basic understanding of the framework and foundation of sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Knowing how things work, what purpose they serve, and how to effectively build a presence for your business will be key to moving you forward.
Here are some hints and help for building a better social-media presence …
The Beginning: Social media, first and foremost, is about connecting with other people. Regardless of what site you use, you’re there to network. Which means, hiding behind a half-finished profile or protecting your tweets isn’t going to lead to new business or potential leads. Act like you want to be found and are interested in making a good first impression. Have a professional looking photo, a well-written bio, and all of your current contact information. Also, invite your current contacts to follow your page and start spreading the word. There are plenty of tools and tricks to master along the way but starting by including as much relevant info as you can is the best way to begin. The more information you include about yourself, the more likely people will find you and your page.
The Middle: The more difficult part of this process is how you take your page from an empty shell to a thriving community. And the easy answer is content. Unfortunately, however, content isn’t always that easy to create, which is why it trips up so many wannabe social-media marketers. You have to have something to say and you have to do it consistently. And, to add to the pressure, once you’ve developed a rhythm and are contributing consistent content, you’ll have to find a way to get your fans and followers to read, interact, and comment on your posts. In other words, it can be tricky. The good news is sticking with relevant, professional content means using what you already know. Give your followers insider tips, info, and exclusive offers and they will come back for more.
The End: Once you’ve filled out your page and begun to contribute some content, the trick is maintaining it. You can add apps and banners. You can run contests and polls. All of these things are good ideas and – once you’re operating within the framework of the site – the more creativity you can muster, the better. Ultimately, the goal is to keep a regular schedule and consistent quality. Give people a reason to return and interact with your page and you’ll begin to see the word-of mouth build within your online community. Most of all, keep at it and don’t give in too quickly. Social media takes time. Have patience.
It may be easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a Facebook page for your business. After all, you’ve gone this long without one. But if you’re interested in building your business and connecting with potential clients in your community, not having a Facebook page puts you at a disadvantage. As evidence, we compiled the following three reasons your business would benefit from having a presence on social media’s most popular site.
Reach: Okay, we’ve said this before but … The top reason you need a Facebook page is the number of people who check in with the social-media giant every day. Facebook is hugely popular and the most visited website in the country. That means, a Facebook page provides you with a platform to reach out to the millions of members who keep on top of their status updates, fans, friends, and followers. The trick, of course, is finding the right audience. Which is why the first goal should be to connect with people in your region and industry. The Internet may be a vast resource able to connect with people half way across the globe, but your goal should be to build a community of locals who may be in the market for your particular services.
Connectivity: In the ever-changing world of social media, Facebook may seem like old hat. But, though it’s no longer the newest or latest craze, it does have the benefit of already having established itself. And by “established itself,” we mean it’s inescapable. That means, Facebook allows you to connect with and link to just about anything you’d ever need, including your blog, Twitter profile, and an impressive list of applications to further increase the functionality of your page. If you can think of something you’d like to do with your page, there is likely a way to make it happen.
Competition: Not having a Facebook page for your business puts you behind the times – and your competitors. It may be a case of “everybody else is doing it,” but it’s true. The more ways you have to explain, educate, and engage potential clients, the better. So, in an increasingly technologically connected world, you can’t afford to be the only business in town that’s trying to connect with customers using 20th-century tools.
Despite what they say, you can argue with numbers. You can also argue with chickens. Neither of these activities, however, is likely to produce a positive outcome. That’s why, though it may be easier and more convenient to ignore reality, you’ll always do better if you acknowledge the facts.
To that end, here are some facts about social-media marketing …
Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs reach 80 percent of active Internet users in the U.S.: Not only that, Nielsen also found that nearly a quarter of all Internet usage is spent on blogs or social-media sites – double the amount spent on gaming. That means, almost half of all Internet usage is split between people playing games online and those perusing social-media pages, profiles, and blogs. And since you likely won’t be able to effectively market your business through online games, you should probably take a look at registering a Facebook page or setting up a blog. The potential upside is huge and there is little to lose. Having a shot at a new audience of potential customers and clients is ultimately what marketing is meant to accomplish. Social media provides an excellent platform to reach new people and generate business.
60 percent of consumers say they are willing to post about products or services if they get a deal: In other words, social media is a viable avenue for promoting and marketing your business. By interacting with your clients and customers over social-media, you are able to appeal to them directly, while offering them exclusive deals and bonuses. It takes a little creativity, but finding a way to get your Facebook or Twitter followers to spread the word for you is worth the effort. Offering Internet-only promos is a great way to boost interest in your business among current and potential clients. Just don’t overwhelm your connections with sales pieces and drive them away.
91 percent of experienced social marketers see increased traffic to their website and 79 percent say they’re generating more quality leads: Doubt all you want but more and more businesses are finding success marketing their services through social-media channels. The key word here, though, is “experienced.” In other words, you’re not going to see boosted traffic to your website and a bag full of quality leads during your first week online. It takes time, effort, and a bit of practice to learn what works for you and put it into action. Those who have had success with social media, have had patience with social media. Give it time and pay attention. After all, the stats say your efforts will ultimately be rewarded.
Choosing a social-media site for your business can be like choosing a lane on the freeway. A successful choice will help you move forward and reach your destination. An unsuccessful choice will get you lost or lead to a dead end. To help make an informed decision, here are some important stats and numbers to remember about the major social-media sites and their viability for business.
Facebook: With 955 million monthly active users, Facebook is the largest and most recognizable social-media brand in business. And though you may not associate it with making professional contacts, a lot has changed since its founding in 2004. Facebook is now an important part of any social-media marketing campaign, whether you’re a large corporation or a small business. On a daily basis, more than 550 million people check in with Facebook, making it an excellent place to spread the word about your products and services. Set up a page for your business and start inviting clients, customers, and contacts to visit your page.
Twitter: Twitter describes itself as a “real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions, and news about what you find interesting.” And though it’s often derided as a site where the self-absorbed tweet unread messages about their every thought and action, Twitter is actually a great source of information. In fact, it may be as valuable as a research tool as it is a platform for keeping in touch with potential clients and customers. But whether you’re using it to gather market intelligence or you’re using it to participate and promote your business, Twitter has proven to be a viable social-media site for all types of businesses.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn launched in 2003. Nearly 10 years later, they sign up nearly two new members every second. It is the largest professional network on the Internet with more than 175 million members and is on pace to surpass 5.3 billion professionally oriented searches this year. Being active on LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to be among the results of one of those searches. It also gives you an opportunity to meet referral partners, network within your region and industry, and make new professional contacts.
Pinterest, Instagram, Etc.: Social media’s popularity has spawned many new platforms, sites, and phenomenons. In the ever-connected age of smart phones and tablets, people are even more apt to share and consume through their favorite social-media site of the moment. That doesn’t always mean, however, that you and your business need to be represented on the newest and latest site. Among the most recent phenomenons, Pinterest and Instagram have received a lot of attention. But, though there may be a legitimate business use for these sites, their long-term viability remains to be seen. When choosing a social-media site for your business, it’s not always what’s “hot” that matters as much as it is what fits your needs and goals.
Among the top social-media sites, Twitter seems the most frivolous. It’s hard to imagine something that involves tweeting being a worthwhile thing to do with your time. And yet, there a countless examples of businesses that are successfully incorporating Twitter into their social-media marketing strategy. Used correctly, Twitter can help you boost brand awareness and familiarity, customer loyalty, word of mouth, and visibility. Here are some of our top tips, hints and help for businesses looking to capitalize in the Twitterverse.
Just Tweet: Okay, if you’re just starting out on Twitter, the first thing to do is tweet. You aren’t likely to attract anything but spam with an empty page. If you’re having trouble thinking of something to say, re-tweet something you found interesting or informative that relates to your industry or area. You can’t expect to gain any followers unless you’ve got something to share. Starting from scratch can be difficult but keep it professional, relevant, and regularly updated for best results.
Use the Hashtag: If you’ve heard the term but haven’t yet understood the concept, here you go … Hashtags identify the topic or subject of your tweet, making it easier for people to find it through searches. For example, if you’re tweeting about real estate, follow your tweet with #realestate. That way, it’s more likely your tweet will be found by people searching for real estate on Twitter. But think it through, as a hashtag for something as general as real estate will likely be among thousands of others.
Nearby Tweets: See who’s tweeting what in your area with nearbytweets.com. The simple setup delivers search results based on a keyword and a location. Search for anything anywhere and see who’s tweeting what near you.
Make Friends: The more people you follow, the more people will follow you. Choose some interesting people and businesses in your industry and region and follow them. Check their followers and follow some of them too. Not only will you have access to any tips and info they share, you’ll boost your visibility and attract your own followers.
Engage: Build a community by commenting and re-tweeting what other people have posted. Post something that isn’t directly related to your business. Talk about other businesses in your area. Point out interesting things in your community.
Be Thankful: Using Twitter properly – or any other social-media site for that matter – requires a bit of old-fashioned etiquette. Much like they do in everyday life, people online appreciate a simple thank you from time to time. For our purposes that means turning on email notifications from your Twitter page. Twitter will send you an email any time someone new follows you. Be sure to send a thank you. It’s a good way to encourage communication and requires nothing more than a short message.
Contaxio: A tool to help manage, track, and interconnect your Twitter account. With Contaxio, you’ll be able to find contacts with similar interests, review your activity, scan stats about the people you follow and those who follow you, and even keep up with new contacts from your Facebook page.
You’re an Expert: Now, you may not think of yourself as an expert. Few people do. However, if you’ve spent any time in your current business, chances are you know more about it than the people paying you for your services. Otherwise, they’d do it themselves. That means, at the very least, you can add insight, context, and explanation to any information you’ve tweeted. If, for example, you tweet a link to an article related to your industry, follow with another tweet that adds background or explanation. Give your Twitter followers some of your expertise for free and they just may end up paying customers down the road.
Interact: Twitter is about communication. It’s meant to be conversational, which explains the character limitations. Ideally, you’d encourage a back-and-forth with your followers and those you follow, using tweets to respond and reply to questions, concerns, and messages. Twitter allows for direct messages, which operate a lot like email. Respond to the messages you receive and to people who tweet about your or your business. It may sound like a lot of work but, if done correctly, the benefit to your business will outweigh the time you invested building a following. Keep your expectations reasonable.
It’s been said that everyone makes mistakes. But that’s only half the story. After all, it’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s the severity of the mistake you make that matters. There’s a difference between locking your keys in the car and accidentally parking your car in the living room. One is an understandable error and the other – under most circumstances – isn’t. Like anything else, when starting a social-media campaign for your business, you will make mistakes. But avoiding the type of mistakes that will leave your page barren and ignored are more important than worrying about a typo in your bio.
Here’s a quick list of some things you can do to avoid making some of the most inexcusable social-media mistakes …
Use It or Lose It: When it comes to social media, the number one mistake people make is not using the pages and profiles they set up. Whether from lack of interest, time, or understanding, many social-media pages serve as nothing more than a placeholder. They’re like online business cards with little more than an address, a phone number, and a photo. But the difference between success and failure in social media is participation. If you bothered to set your business up with a Facebook page or Twitter account, use it. Contact people, promote your site, produce some content, join groups, comment on someone’s post. In short, interact. It doesn’t take much to get someone to like or follow a social-media profile. You don’t have to take them to dinner or earn enough of their trust to be given a key to their house. All you need to do is participate and not be rude, aggressive, annoying, or mean spirited.
Make A Good Impression: You’re introducing yourself to a whole new audience. Act like it matters. You want to present yourself as professional, experienced, consistent, and efficient. Make sure anything you put up online showcases only those qualities you’d like associated with you and your business. That means, no beach photos, questionable jokes, religion or politics. Keep it focused on business and make a clear distinction between any personal profiles you maintain and those specifically for your business. Google your name and scroll through some of the results. Those are the same things potential clients will see if they look you up online – which they likely will. Having a professional online presence is a great way to make a good first impression. More and more, people check the Internet before deciding who to do business with. Don’t scare them away before you even meet them.
Location, Location, Location: Much like anything else, where you set yourself up makes a difference. Which is to say, location matters whether you’re opening for business on Main St. or on the Internet. Make sure the accounts you register for make sense for your business. You’re fairly safe if you stick with some combination of the most popular sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The membership numbers alone make them worthwhile. Outside of the that, do a little research before you register your business name and slap some info together. Make sure any sites you join serve a legitimate business purpose and can be used to your advantage. You’ll be most successful if your Internet presence is focused and consistent. Only take on what you can handle. And only go where there are potential business benefits.
If you feel you aren’t getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile, you’re probably right. Maybe you added your resume, contact info, and photo and are now wondering what else you can do with your page. Maybe you’re not sure – beyond job hunting – what purpose LinkedIn serves in the first place. Or maybe you’ve seen other peoples’ pages and wondered how they made them so dynamic, interesting, and interactive. Well there are a number of ways to boost your LinkedIn presence and become more effective that don’t require a degree in computer programming or a high level of Internet savvy.
Here are three ways to get the most out of your account …
Take It Offline: Sometimes social media can feel limiting because it all takes place behind the veil of the Internet. Which is to say, it’s a little impersonal. But, if you’re the type of person that feels more comfortable doing your networking the old-fashioned way, LinkedIn provides an easy way to take your social-media contacts into the real world. Search the events section of LinkedIn and you can locate actual gatherings of like-minded individuals in your region and industry. Search keywords that apply to your business and then find some events in your area. It’s a great way to make new connections, network in your area, and boost your LinkedIn contacts all at the same time.
Install Some Applications: Though LinkedIn doesn’t offer as many applications as some other social-media sites, there are still a number of useful tools available to you. For example, LinkedIn provides a WordPress app that will automatically retrieve and display your posts from your blog. It’s an excellent way to add interest to your page while increasing the number of people who see and read your blog. There are also applications to help you share documents, collaborate with colleagues, display your Amazon.com reading list, and share your business travel plans. Which is to say, there are plenty of available ways to customize your LinkedIn page. Don’t be afraid to install a few and test them out. Through trial-and-error you will soon have a much more interesting and attractive page to share with your contacts and connections.
Join, Participate, And Repeat: The good news is LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals. That means, there’s no confusing personal contacts with business clients, customers, and partners. It also means an impressive selection of groups and forums you can join. Like the events section, you can search groups by keyword and join a few that relate to your industry or region. Participate in the conversations you find there or start a few of your own. Remember, this isn’t the place for advertising or promotion. Be polite, professional, knowledgeable, and eager to help with information, answers, and ideas. It’s a great way to focus your attention on the people that are most likely to appreciate your services and need your expertise.
It’s been said that we learn everything we need to know in kindergarten. Mostly it’s said as comfort to the majority of us who excelled at nap time but never went on to get a Harvard degree. But it’s also said because a lot of the basics are covered in kindergarten. You learn about following the rules, coloring inside the lines, getting along with others, and not biting someone for stealing your crayons. In other words, the fundamentals. And along with everything else, those basics apply to social media.
Coloring Inside The Lines: Seems simple enough. The lines in coloring books are there because most of us weren’t born professional illustrators. So use them. When setting up a social media page or a blog, be sure to use the guidelines they’ve provided to fill out your page and make it seem like you know what you’re doing. There’s a reason they have a space for a photo, one for your contact info, and for some background information. It’s because those are some of the first things people will wonder when stumbling upon your page. They’re going to want to get a quick snapshot of who you are and what you’re offering. Make a good first impression by completing your profile.
Follow The Rules: There are some simple rules to follow when using social media and, if you don’t, you’ll likely hear about it. Just as in life, people in groups and forums generally want you to follow some simple rules in order to participate. Pay attention and follow along. The benefit of joining groups is to mingle with people in your industry and region. Don’t start off by offending them, ignoring their requests, and using their forum as an advertising venue for your business. Play along and by the rules and you’ll find yourself meeting new contacts and potential clients.
Play Nice With Others: Be polite, participate, and don’t be a jerk or a nuisance. This would appear to be the most obvious of all lessons from kindergarten that could be applied online. Unfortunately, some people abuse the relative anonymity of the Internet. Don’t be like them. Respond to comments politely. Be accessible to your contacts. Ask questions. Take an interest in others. Share knowledge. Be grateful that anyone at all is looking at your page and paying attention to what you’re doing. You’re trying to attract, not repel, people. Act like it.
If there were a shopping plaza that had 900 million regular customers, you’d be among the thousands of businesses clamoring for a storefront on the property. After all, the chance to offer your services to that many people at once would make closing new business almost a mathematical certainty. Chances are there are a handful among those 900 million that are looking for exactly what you’re offering. This is the thought behind social-media marketing and, specifically, marketing on Facebook. Sure, naysayers will tell you it’s a waste of your time and won’t develop anything other than a penchant for procrastination. But with that many potential customers within reach, it’d be crazy not to give it a try.
Here are some thoughts on social-media marketing on Facebook …
Focus on the Goal: Everyone wants other people to like them. It’s human nature and the reason behind Facebook’s ever-expanding popularity. But just because there are 900 million members on Facebook, doesn’t mean you have to make friends with each and every one of them. Focusing on the goal means focusing on business. You’re reading this because you’d like to find new ways to drum up business and make money, not because you need more online friends. Use your fan page to target opportunities and potential clients in your industry and region, not to boost your self-esteem and build your virtual ego. Keep it straight and professional. Making a connection with three people in your area will do more for your bottom line than racking up big numbers of out-of-state admirers.
Avoid Sloppy Mistakes: Fill out your page. Don’t leave it blank. We’ve said it before and we’ll likely say it again. Nothing makes you look more uncertain, unprofessional, and unattractive than a half-filled out fan page without a picture or logo. Keep your info fresh, sharp, and easy to digest. While you’re at it, make sure anything you post is short and easy to read too. Include pictures and stick to a somewhat regular schedule. In short, don’t keep ‘em guessing. Avoiding sloppy mistakes means paying attention to detail. And details often make the difference between success and being totally ignored.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help: One of the great things about social media is that it’s like math. It’s not so much the equation, as it is the answer. There are multiple ways to gain a business advantage on Facebook and other social-media sites. For example, it’s great to share your knowledge and build your reputation but Facebook can also be a tool for learning. So if you’re stumped or curious, ask someone. Sometimes posting a question about something related to your business or your clients’ interests can be an excellent way of, not only starting a dialogue, but learning something from your online fans and followers. Listen closely to their answers and you may discover a trick or two that leads you to new business.
There’s a good reason many social-media articles compare a successful online strategy to working the room at a cocktail party. It’s because, much like a cocktail party, social-media sites offer opportunities to meet new people, learn new things, and network among people from your community, industry, and region.
Here are some ways to reap business benefits from Twitter …
The Eavesdropper: Let’s say you’re someone who isn’t enthusiastic about opening a Twitter account and regularly thinking of something to tweet so you’ve ignored Twitter altogether. Well there’s even something in for you. Searching keywords related to your town or industry gives you a live-time look at what’s being said about your community and business. It’s a great learning tool and may even change your mind about the usefulness of Twitter. Much like eavesdropping, it allows you to listen in without having to engage. Look for trends among the tweets and use anything you can. Search keywords related to your industry and get a feel for how much enthusiasm or demand there is for your particular product or services. If your leery or uncertain how things work, it’s a convenient way to get a feel for the powerful potential of Twitter. Use it to research your market and better your business without ever having to log in.
The Networker: Now that you’ve done some eavesdropping on Twitter, you may be more interested in trying it out for yourself. Start by setting up a profile using your real name and business info. Then follow a few of the Twitter users you found in your earlier search. Choose people or business that had something insightful to offer or lent a useful link or tip. It’s a great way to painlessly introduce yourself to people without them having to feel any obligation to reciprocate. They don’t even have to approve or accept you. And not only will you begin receiving their tweets in your feed, which will provide you – if you’ve done a good job – with a steady stream of interesting info every time you log in, it’ll also lead to a few people following you back and receiving your tweets. That’s when the social part of the social media kicks in.
The Conversationalist: This is the hard part. It’s not always easy to come up with something to say that’s relevant, interesting, and short enough to meet Twitter’s 140 character limit. One way to start is by sharing interesting links to news or relevant articles you’ve seen online. Another is to re-tweet something someone else posted. Another is to reply to something you’ve seen on someone’s page or to ask a question that will solicit a bit of back-and-forth. Keep it professional, consistent, and mostly non-promotional. Sure, it’s a good idea to offer a deal or discount to your followers here and there. But you shouldn’t overdo the directly promotional tweeting. For one thing, it’s not going to be too interesting to anyone stumbling on your page. It’s called social media for a reason. And much like going to a party and trying to sell everyone you meet, you aren’t likely to have much success if you approach it as an advertising opportunity.
If you’re someone that thinks of livestock when you hear the word branding, you may be a bit behind the times. Or you’re an actual cowboy. Either way, some simple tips on branding your business and building customer loyalty may help.
Here are some thoughts to get you started …
The Branding: The primary reason to brand your cattle was to help make them more easily identifiable. The same goes for corporate logos, advertising, and marketing campaigns. And, with the growth of online marketing, branding has become an important part of marketing even the smallest of businesses. Ultimately, having an online presence that is consistent, easily identified, and interactive will help you find new customers and keep current clients coming back. The trick is having your info where it can be easily found and making sure it’s consistent on all of your Internet properties, whether it’s a blog, Facebook page, or business website. Branding is about being identified and remembered. And a social-media campaign focused on keeping all the details, logos, and contact info consistent and presentable is one that will be more easily found online and more memorable.
The Messaging: Branding is a pretty simple concept. You want people to recognize your business and feel a sense of familiarity with you. What you do with that brand, however, is a bit more complicated. Sending the right message is about content. Once you’ve got your info, photos, and logos in place and your pages looking the way you want them, you have to have content that keeps people coming back to your page, to make it stand out from the rest of the Internet noise. For example, if you’re in the cupcake business, you don’t want a page that’s purely self-promotional and a bore for anyone other than you and your employees. You want a page that makes people think about how much they love cupcakes and would love to buy some. In other words, you want to share content that’s interesting, educational, and not directly self-promotional. In this particular example, you’d likely want to have some large, attractive pictures of cupcakes and stories touting their health benefits and how they’re particularly delicious this time of year. In other words, info that makes it more likely that visitors will feel familiar with your brand and a desire to do business with you.
Running a successful social-media campaign is a bit like running a railroad. First you have to be where the people are. Then you’ve got to keep a regular schedule so the people know when to get on board. Finally, you’ve got to offer your customers something they can’t get from your competition. And, in this case, that means offering quality content consistently and regularly. It also means providing superior service and treating your pages and profiles as an important extension of your business.
Here are some things to think about …
Location: Where you set up shop matters in any business. Open a bait shop 300 miles from the water and see how well that goes. The same is true in social media. Fortunately, this part isn’t very difficult. There are many sites out there. Some are new. So are niche. Some offer some things and others offer others. Ultimately, you want to be where the people are. Niche sites can be good for networking within your industry but new business comes from communicating with the public. And the best way to develop relationships with people online is to go where most of them are. And yeah, that means Facebook is probably a good bet.
Schedule: This is the part that trips a lot of people up. It’s one thing to survey the available social-media sites and get started registering. It’s an altogether different thing to log in regularly and use your profiles and pages to your advantage. Sadly, though it can be done, it isn’t automatic. You have to have something to share and you have to share it on a regular basis. How often you update your pages is up to you. Some social-media gurus will tell you you have to update your pages with new content multiple times a day. Fortunately, updating on any schedule – as long as it’s kept – will likely benefit you. Start slow. Come up with a post every other week. Then up the frequency as you get into a rhythm. What works for you is what works for you. In other words, set the pace you’re comfortable with and let the people know when to expect you. Regularity is familiarity. And familiarity breeds business.
The Extras: It really shouldn’t be a hard sell to get some people to visit, like, follow, or recommend your new social-media profiles. It’ll cost them nothing and make your page seem populated and more interesting to newcomers. So ask some previous clients, referral partners, and other professional contacts to stop by your new page. They’ll be happy to do it and you’ll end up with increased visibility and some potential new connections. But that’s where the extras come in. Now that you’ve got some people visiting, what you put up on you page determines whether or not they’ll come back. Offer good content, interesting info, be available, and answer any questions or comments you get. In other words, treat your social-media sites as an extension of your business and treat your fans and followers like they’re your customers. Be consistent and available, professional and prompt and they’ll return to you in the future.