As a business leader, how do you foster the kind of community that can turn into greater awareness, preference, and enthusiasm? The answer is disappointingly simple: USE IT.
If you follow the conversations around how to use social media for your business, you may have noticed that the trendy topic is quality over quantity. And we're talking about quality in all forms - quality conversations, quality presence, and most importantly, quality followers.
In short, the concept is that there are a lot of passive online relationships out there - be it fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter or LinkedIn - but the only ones that truly translate into business opportunity are your active relationships, or those that regularly interact with you and actively follow your business/brand.
True, social media is a form of media and should be treated accordingly by incorporating it into your marketing plan. But there are some aspects of it that are inherently social - meaning personal - requiring everyone from leadership on to actually use it.
The funny thing about businesses in social media is that some seem to forget to include the social aspect of it. A synonym for social media is "social networking" - which is descriptive of its original intent. Social media is meant to connect individuals with common interests - and this is true for consumer goods and business brands.
So how do you create a social media presence that is both personal and consistent with your brand?
1.Who is your audience? The answer in most cases is current or prospective customers or partners. But what does this group want to hear from you? If your audience is CFOs in the construction industry, they may not want to hear about a new resort in Fiji you're thinking of trying. But they may be very interested in articles about housing trends in your area, or Home Depot's outstanding quarter.
2.Self-promote. Did you post a new blog article? Send out a link. Did you just land a great sale? Brag about it! Part of the personal aspect of social media is sharing about yourself - that doesn't necessarily mean posting a video of your dog's new trick or your baby's first steps (although depending on your personality or industry, this may be fine). Again, remember who your audience is. If your followers are C-level clients, the message you want to send is different from an audience of old high school buddies.
3.Use your common sense. Social networking is like any other networking - so I like to adhere to the same kinds of rules. For example, never post anything political, religious, or sexual. End of story.
4.Pretend it's real life. Again, I like the phrase "social networking" because it draws a really good parallel to what you're trying to accomplish. If you were at an industry event or tradeshow, what would you say about yourself? What interesting stories from the news or industry magazine would you bring up?
5.Don't talk - converse. As with all networking, people don't appreciate being talked at - make it a conversation. Respond to customers who mention you - whether the comments are good or bad. Turn a contact into a relationship by listening and responding as much as you tell and share.
6.What interests you professionally? As a representative of your company, your interests probably reflect your audience's interests. So if you find a particularly interesting article about banking regulations, post it! If a new Apple product is causing a lot of buzz, comment on it! If you find it interesting, your audience might too.
As you can see, developing a meaningful social media presence is time-consuming. My tip? Set aside 5-10 minutes per day (or week) to find interesting articles to share, or to respond to others' comments. You may be surprised with the results!
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