Setting up a social-media strategy for your business is a lot like buying a box of donuts. After all, no one donut can fulfill all of your sugary needs. Maybe you’ve got a taste for chocolate and sprinkles but also need something plain to go with your morning coffee. This explains why they’re sold by the dozen. Now you won’t need a dozen social-media sites to properly harness the power of the Internet and propel your business forward. You may, however, want to consider your choices, your purposes, and which options make the most sense for your business and what you’d like to accomplish.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is fairly cut and dry. It’s the largest social-media site devoted to professionals and that means you won’t be sharing space with your 13-year-old niece. It’s Facebook for business and it provides a platform to get in touch with other professionals in your region and industry. If you’re looking to meet people, network, and maybe get some referrals, LinkedIn is a good place to start. It’s also a good place to learn. Joining groups and asking questions can lead to new connections but it can also lead to knowledge. Have a look around and see how other professionals are benefiting from LinkedIn. It isn’t all resumes and job hunters. But it is drawing 33.5 million users a month.
Twitter: Twitter is also pretty simple to understand. It’s just like having a blog, only your posts are limited to 140 characters. That means, it’s designed to publish information in quick, continually updated bits. That’s why it initially gained a reputation for being the tool of self-involved Internet-addicts needing to share each and everything they’re doing as they’re doing it. Well it’s evolved from a site where you find out what your friends are having for breakfast. Everyone from neurosurgeons to politicians to your next door neighbor has a page. Which means, it’s all in how you use it. Type the name of your industry and scroll through the most recent tweets related to your business. It’ll provide a glimpse of what Twitter is and why it’s good for your business.
Facebook: Facebook is the trickiest of the big three. It started as a purely social site for college students but is now so large that it’s almost its own micro-Internet. And because it’s the site Americans spend most of their online time browsing, it’s become an important part of any businesses’ social-media strategy. More and more, businesses include their Facebook fan page’s address in their marketing and advertising. Use it for promotions and educating your customers. Offer them a deal or discount for liking your page. Carve out a spot so that you have a platform on the world’s most popular social-media site. It may not pay off in a week but not having a presence on Facebook means ignoring the fact that nearly everyone is using it and the time they spend on it is time they won’t be looking at your website.
Think of LinkedIn as the most well-attended networking event the world has ever seen. Then congratulate yourself on finding a way to meet and greet with more than 70 million professionals without having to endure the awkward conversations and business-card exchanges that go along with your regular, run-of-the-mill business gathering.
When used correctly, LinkedIn provides a platform for online networking, maintaining contacts, receiving referrals and participating in the community at large. And so, we’ve compiled the following tips and tools from past posts in order to help you take better advantage of your profile …
Your Profile: Since LinkedIn began as a vehicle for job hunters, many people are still under the impression that some form of copy-and-pasted resume is all you need to attract potential business to your page. Truth is, this is a representation of you and, hopefully, one that will be seen by potential clients and partners. That means, you’ll want to offer up a bit more than your work history. If you have a Twitter page, add it. Add your website as well. Get connected by importing your email address book and sending out an invite to your business contacts. Add a bio and job experience. The more information you offer, the more likely your profile will be found.
Get Active: So you’ve filled out your profile and imported your business contacts to LinkedIn. 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 road.
Make Recommendations: 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.
WordPress: If you have a business blog and haven’t added it to your LinkedIn page, you should. The WordPress application on LinkedIn allows you to easily update your profile with your most recent blog posts, provided you’re using WordPress. And, if embedding your blog on your LinkedIn profile sounds like it may be beyond your technological abilities, it’s as easy as entering your domain name into the application. Everything else is automatic.
Polls: You may think polls are only for research centers and presidential campaigns but they’re also a handy and convenient way of gathering information that will boost your business. Use the poll application on LinkedIn to pose a question to your connections and millions of other professionals, then use their answers to better your services. In addition, the poll application allows you to embed the voting module on your website or blog.
Be Strategic: Once you’ve set up a page and joined some groups, developed some content, discussion topics, or questions to share, it’s time to think strategically about how, where, and when to post it. You don’t, for example, want to post your content on Christmas morning or the 4th of July or even weekends for that matter. Posting the right topic to the right group at a time when there’s likely to be more traffic and interest will make the difference between being ignored and being found among millions of members.