I attend offline networking events regularly and, even now social media has evolved so much, I still get people asking why they should be on it. There are still a few business people (more than you might think) who can’t see the point.
I’m not the oracle on all things online, this is just my take on why a business should be visible on social media.
Twitter is where people find out what’s going on, look for quick fire entertainment, use as a source of information (links to good blogs and articles) and chat.
- It’s instant
- People are still very active on Twitter
- It’s easy to read, so people will skim through their Twitter feed when they only have a few moments. Other platforms need a longer attention span.
- You don’t know who knows who; think of Twitter as ‘joining up the dots’.
On Twitter people are really quick to respond to ‘do you know anyone who …? Messages and recommend or refer the people that jump right into their minds. If you’re highly visible on Twitter – that might be you!
Facebook is ‘all about me’ so on personal profiles it’s about what you’re doing, what your friends are doing, what’s fun, what’s hot and is much more image and video related these days.
From the business perspective it works best for businesses selling direct to consumers – crafts, beauty therapy, things for the home, gifts, etc. It you are selling B2B it can work, but you need to focus your activity in the right places – like business groups and on the pages where your market is active.
- It’s personal
- It’s very social
- It’s collaborative, people share links to things they like more than most other platforms
- People get involved in things they like
- People are supportive to friends and get into conversation
The key to success on Facebook is engagement. If your target audience are on Facebook you can’t just talk at them, you will need to post content that really interests them and gets them to respond.
LinkedIn is a business platform and is best for companies who are selling to other businesses or who are looking to get press coverage.
- It’s based on personal profiles – but don’t let that fool you, people expect you to be businesslike
- It’s a great place to demonstrate your expertise in posts and groups
- It lets you find your target audience and communicate directly with them
- You’ll need to be value-led to be taken seriously
People buy people so a personal profile is important, even if you also have a company page. You can’t open a conversation with a business entity! Aim to be visible with regular content and don’t see it as simply a numbers game. No matter how many contacts you have, if you’re not communicating with them effectively they may as well not be there at all.
This platform is a bit of a hybrid and the numbers can be misleading. Google would have us believe that there are billions of people with Google+ accounts. Whilst that may be true, everyone who has ever signed up for gmail, blogger, alerts, adwords or any other Google tool automatically gets a Google+ account. However, most of these people never do anything with it – so there are millions of ‘empty’ accounts.
Having said that, it has some useful tools – like Hangouts – where you can have meetings or hold learning sessions.
It looks like Google are quietly hiving off some of the tools and turning them into apps so my recommendation is to use an automated tool to post value-led information into a company page and put it at the bottom of your active engagement list, for when you have additional time.
Facebook owns Instagram so you get a double whammy with this. Learn how to use Paint (it should be in Accessories on your StartUp menu) and add interesting comments to your images.
Make sure you choose relevant images that have a message in themselves. Use your own images or ones that you have permission to use – don’t be tempted to use Google images or you could end up with a big bill for copyright fees!
Aim to upload at least one each week – more if you can.
While you’re uploading images to Instagram you may as well take another minute or two to upload them into Pinterest too.
My tip for Pinterest is to plan ahead and organise your boards first so you have a strategy for your images.
What else should I be doing?
A regular blog on your website adds valuable content to your site. This feeds those hungry search engines and also gives you plenty of material for social media that will, in turn, bring people to read your blog – and onto your website.
A regular or occasional newsletter that delivers value to your list is a great way to build relationships. Whether your list is former and current clients, people who you’ve met networking or people who’ve signed up for a free document on your website, everyone likes to get valuable material. This means the newsletter needs to have useful information – not a list of what your company has been doing or who has joined you, but content that helps your reader in some way.
This is a great way of educating your audience about what you do. Don’t assume that everyone knows everything you do – use email marketing to enlighten them. Come up with a time-limited offer or a set of compelling benefits and you’ve got a valuable resource.
Don’t sell too hard or people will unsubscribe – and, of course, you do need to send out value-based material too, so they see that it’s worth remaining a subscriber.
What do your clients read in relation to their business? Those are the publications that you want to be targeting. Don’t be shy, create an article – with some interesting graphics and approach the publication.
You could be surprised at how many of the editors will welcome good quality material – they’re often operating on a tight budget and always looking for articles that will interest their readers.
… and finally …
I don’t expect you to do all of these things or you wouldn’t have time to run your business, but think about how you could add some of these activities to your regular routine and you’ll find your visibility and reputation rise quickly.