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.
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.