While social media, social networking, spending time on Facebook … however you refer to connecting with prospects and customers on the Internet … can seem very daunting and confusing, there really are just six basic elements that you need to master.
While most people, including businesses, are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, does your target market spend time in each of these networks? If you’re a B2C marketing consultant, chances are you’ll find your customers spending time in the Big 4. However, if you’re a restaurant or other independently-owned small retail shop, you may be spending needless time on some of these sites. When you do your research, find definitive answers to these primary questions: Who are my primary customers? Where do they hang out? What are they interested in? What can I give them that is going to be of value to them?
Social media isn’t (just) a popularity contest. It’s about connecting and conversing with the right people. There are services that you can pay to increase your Twitter or Facebook following by thousands, but if none of these new-found fans are interested in what you have to offer, is it worth the investment? After you perform your research, create a plan defining the following: primary prospects, customers, primary competitors, goals, focus for your social media content, frequency, and sub-locations in each network (these can be groups, fan pages, Q&A forums, etc.).
If I were to ask you, why do you think you need to become active in social media, you’re likely to respond with: “I want to sell more.” A big part of selling is observing the behaviors and actions of your target market. Your research will help you find where your idea customers are spending time, but it isn’t until you join the party that you’ll discover how the prospects in each of these forums interact. Interactions on Facebook are different from the conversations on LinkedIn. You can’t create quality contributions, if you don’t understand how and why people engage in each network.
Engage influencers in the forums. Engage prospects in the networks. Answer questions. Ask questions. Comment on content. Generate your own. Just remember when you engage, it isn’t all about selling. Yes, your goal is to sell more … more customers, more frequently, and profitable products and services. However, if you’re new to the network and you simply jump in by pitching your products, you’re going to push most people away. Take a deep breath. Remain calm. Remember to observe. As you make an effort to get to know people by engaging them, they will want to get to know you (if you’ve done your research and you’re engaging the right people without just trying to pitch them).
While TV and radio ads, billboards, print ads and other passive forms of marketing where the only option for getting your message out to your market, social media changed the rules by including the quality of conversation to the quality of content. Copywriters and ad men used to get paid big bucks just to create attention-getting content. However, with social media, customers want to be heard and understood. And you have the opportunity to do so, so don’t waste it. The best way to accomplish this is to respond to the comments that your market makes. Set your alerts to notify you when someone comments on your content. If you don’t have alerts in place, schedule times to go back and review any customer created content, and make sure you respond. Remember, social media is about being social.
Connecting with customers and converting them into active evangelists spreading the word about your business takes a consistent effort. People grow weary of fair-weathered friends. Your customers want to be able to connect with you regularly. If you disappear on them, they will go spend time with your competitors that pay attention to them. If you look at social media as something you have to do, instead of something that you want to do, you won’t do it regularly. And you won’t build a following … or sell more.
If you struggle with social media, you can hire on consultants to manage it for you. However, make sure when you interview them, they get to know you, your business and your goals … and create a proposal that includes these six essentials.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide