As a leader of your business, you are a trusted subject matter expert. Your customers, staff, and even industry peers rely on your expertise. You share your knowledge with customers on the phone and in person. You dedicate time to teaching and training employees, and maybe you have even “nurtured” customers with helpful content on your business website.
Now it’s time to use your knowledge to expand your network of valuable allies and friends. Form connections and build communities with people who have shared interests, need your expertise, products, and services, and can promote your business online.
What you’ve heard about social media for business is true; the only thing more powerful than what you know is who you know. Contrary to what you might believe, leveraging Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a variety of social platforms isn’t just about creating a feeling of goodwill. It’s about driving more revenue through better prospecting and stronger relationships.
Here are five ways to make your social platforms work for your business:
- Identify the right platforms for your customer base
Each social platform has a distinct set of capabilities. Identify which channels (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram) meet your purposes and appeal to your customers. Find out where they are most active online. If your customers are tweeting regularly about problems, take on the role of subject matter expert in these conversations and provide answers. If your strongest competitors are promoting offers and getting “likes” on Facebook, test offers using Facebook Ads.
- Develop your own unique persona
You’re a business owner or manager, but you’re not just representing your products and services. Your personality and expertise are assets that add value to your company. Indeed, YOU are someone that your market can embrace, and they will love your company even more when they do.
But what is your personality? Are you insightful, witty, or humorous? Are you a passionate advocate for a better way of doing things? Are you an industry innovator who is always a step ahead of your peers? Ask yourself these questions to identify your persona and use your photograph in virtual communities like Facebook Groups to invite people to connect with you.
- Connect with people in online communities
In every market ECi serves, there are online communities of people that discuss industry-specific concerns. Prioritize the communities that are most relevant and most active in your industry, and join them. Use them to share information and news with other subject matter experts and thought leaders, as well as customers. Before you join in communities like specific LinkedIn Groups, it’s important to understand their unique cultures and ways of interacting. Ease your way in with a helpful intent; outsiders can appear to have agendas and will be rejected.
- Engage people with visual content
Add value to your relationships by provoking thought, starting and contributing to dialogues, seeking and lending expertise, and (when you have established credibility) promoting your solutions. Use visual content on your social platforms, including videos, memes, and infographics. Visual content is excellent for generating attention and engagement. Consider these statistics:
- 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing, ahead of blogs (68%) and videos (60%) (Social Media Examiner)
- When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (BrainRules)
- 5% of marketers and small business owners who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business. (Animoto)
Use the connections you’ve formed with other influencers in your industry to extend your reach. For example, connect with bloggers and ask them to embed your videos in their posts as value-added content. On Twitter, once you have collected more than a hundred followers, announce a flash sale on your website. In every communication, use your persona to brand yourself as well as your business.
- Monitor your platforms for interest and engagement
Now that you’re engaged in social media, monitor all of the interactions on your platforms. Note the communications that are generating the most interest and engagement, and build on your successes. The more you monitor and learn from your activities, the more you will increase your ROI for the time you invest in social media.
Given that much of what you do to generate interest on social media is free, the payoff for leveraging these best practices can be significant. And given that we are all social creatures by nature, you may find that your investment in social media pays off in other unexpected ways.