In my previous blog, I promised that my next post would talk about ways to build your business social media network. BOOM – Posted!
(If you get the reference to “The Office,” we can hang.)
Before we get started, please note that I’ll be mostly focusing on “the basics” when it comes to social media — and for me, that’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are many cooler/hipper/younger writers who can speak to growing your network on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and all the other social sites the kids are into nowadays.
But we’re talking business here. And while I’m sure there are dozens of ways to use those channels for marketing, I’d be willing to bet that the Big Three are still the most popular and effective ones (at least for now).
One thing to remember above all: These are your BUSINESS accounts. They’re all about creating awareness of your company, which hopefully leads to engagement — where it’s up to you to turn those leads into customers.
If you want to share opinions on issues, news and stuff, I recommend saving that for your personal account. After all, your biggest customer or prospect could have the exact opposite view on an issue as you. Keeping your business dealings separate from all that stuff is usually the best way to go.
Without further ado, here are my four tips for building your business social media network:
1. Make sure your account profile/bio/information is complete and accurate.
Nobody will click “Like” or “Follow” or “Connect” unless you’re real, you’re open/honest/informative, and you give them a good reason or two. And if you’re able to pique their interest, you’d better have their favorite means of communication prominently featured in your “Contact us” info. Have your phone and fax numbers (yeah, some people still use ’em), email, website, and even your other social media accounts available.
Also, describe your company and whatever you sell — products, services, etc. — clearly and succinctly. Give them the elevator pitch, the ten-words-or-less story, and the main reasons to choose you and your business.
Because when people get to know you and can reach out to connect with you, that’s how you start building a social media network.
2. Make the first move. (But be choosy.)
Everybody goes through the same things when they discover social media (regardless of the channel). We’re fascinated with it, and how easy it is to make connections and learn about people and places and things. We log in frequently — or stay logged in all the time — with a fresh case of FOMO. (That’s “Fear Of Missing Out.” And for some of us, that never really goes away!)
So we start connecting with people. Family, friends, neighbors, former colleagues, etc. We ask them to be our Friends, we follow their Twitter accounts, we connect on LinkedIn.
Pro Tip: If you really want someone to accept your LinkedIn invite, don’t just hit “Invite.” Write them a personalized message saying why you’d like to connect, as well as their WIFM (“What’s in It For Me” — one of my favorite acronyms).
Again, this is your BUSINESS social media network we’re talking about. So when I say “make the first move,” remember who it is you want to connect with for your business:
* Friends — who are (or should be) fans of your business
* Colleagues/partners — who support your business, and you’ll support in return
* Customers — who are the heart of your business and need constant attention
* Prospects — who will (hopefully) appreciate you reaching out to them
So go and get ’em, but know that social media isn’t really a numbers game. Sure, it’s great to say “we have thousands of followers.” However, if 20% of them are spambots and scammers, and 15% are people who will never be your customers, they’re like a sixth toe on your left foot — kinda cool, but not super-necessary.
3. Plan to post relevant things on a regular basis.
Social posts are a big blank canvas — which can be dangerous (or at the very least, ineffective) if you don’t have a plan. Thankfully, putting together a plan that keeps people interested in you — and attracts more of them — just needs a little thinkin’.
Think about how frequently you want to post, but also the reality of sitting down to actually create and post them. Three posts a week might be ambitious for some, but once a month is probably too infrequent. What works for you?
Think about what your friends/followers/connections want to see from you. Sales promotions? Exclusive discount offers? Product demos? Relevant news about your company? Put yourself in their virtual shoes and think it over.
Think about having someone on staff (or a freelancer) handle it for you. (Unethical Plug: That’s where someone like me can help.) They can strategize with you and put together a plan, then create the posts for you and — once approved — even post them for you if you like.
You don’t have to be “top of mind” at all times, but as long as you pop up in timelines on a regular basis, you should be OK.
4. Keep it professional.
I can’t stress this enough. It’s your BUSINESS social media network. (All caps means super-serious, you guys.)
When you get “engagement” — that’s a fancy marketing term for messages and feedback — that’s a tremendous opportunity for you.
Customer service question? Answer quickly, politely and thoroughly. Facebook even tracks your responses and response time for you.
Positive feedback? Thank them for the message quickly. You could even write them privately and offer them a discount.
Negative feedback? Thank them for calling the issue to your attention quickly, and offer them a solution and how you’ll fix the problem.
Pro Tip: Get them OFFLINE as soon as possible, because angry complaints have a way of going viral — or at least tainting your company’s good name online for a long time. So get their contact info or give them yours, and have a nice chat offline.
And remember, don’t post stuff that might be controversial. That’s not what you’re trying to do with your business account, and it will hurt your efforts to create positive awareness and cultivate leads.
So that’s it. Promise kept. I hope you find these tips helpful and practical. If you did, I’d be thrilled to connect with you on a social media network!
Is there a tactic that has helped you grow your network?