Marketing in the 21st century is all about building relationships with your customers and prospective customers.
We are an instant gratification society. If we like something we want it now.
If we are unhappy about something we have no qualms in telling the world, via Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere that your product or service stinks. It may or may not be valid but often by the time we get to see the damning comment it could have been seen by millions of people around the world.
We are more prone to complaining than praising.
Years ago I used to train small business owners to set up and manage their accounting systems. This was frequently after they had been defrauded by their bookkeepers who had been given full access to bank accounts as "I know nothing about accounting" and they had abdicated the responsibility.
Many business owners do the same with Social Media. It is very tempting to pass this incredibly important job on to the young receptionist, “because she knows how Facebook works”. Or to give the job to your website developer because “they know all the technical stuff”. You may outsource it to an agency who are Social Media savvy have no understanding of your business or industry.
This is the face of your business. If you don't have an experienced marketer whom you trust, you need to bite the bullet and learn the basics.
Here are some tips to get you started
- The key to managing your Online Presence is consistency.
- Schedule 30 minutes a day to learn about Social Media.
- Build online relationships as you would face to face relationships.
- Become a stalker. See what your competitors are doing. What sort of engagement are they getting? Keep your friends closer and your enemies closer.
LinkedIn is an important business platform.
- When you Google yourself, if you have a LinkedIn Profile this is the first item that comes up in a Google Search. If you do not maintain your profile, it is probably better not to be on LinkedIn as you will be giving clients the wrong impression about yourself and your business.
- If you decide to invest time in LinkedIn which I strongly recommend that you do, spend time on the following aspects of creating your profile:
- Use a professional photo
- A header image immediately draws attention and visitors can quickly see what you are about.
- Your Headline should be short and catchy using keywords which help you get found
- Don't lie and don't waffle about that job you had 40 years ago. Keep your information relevant to who you are today and what you are looking for.
- Ask for endorsements and showcase your wins and testimonials
- Make sure you are contactable. Include links to your blogs and social media.
- Ask a friend or colleague to go through it. It is hard to talk about ourselves so a different perspective helps.
- Diarise to review your profile once a month. We live in a society that constantly changes and keeping up is essential.
- You do not need to pay for the Premium Version unless you have loads of spare cash as it is not cheap.
- Search for members in your industry on LinkedIn and start to socialise. Like, comment and share their posts. Don't ask to connect immediately if you haven't interacted at all unless you have been introduced by a 3rd party. It is like dating. Get to know one another before hopping into bed.
- When you are ready to connect, send them a customised invite.
- Join LinkedIn Groups in your industry and participate. Share your knowledge and ask questions.This is a good way to show that you are an expert in your niche.
- Search for your customers on LinkedIn and connect with them as well.
- These connections will help you form the basis of your other Social Networks.
Which Other Social Media Platform/s Should You Choose?
The answer to this question is "where is my target market?" It is almost impossible to manage more than 2 or 3 platforms efficiently especially if you are a small business with limited resources.
- What products and services do I sell?
- What age / gender / culture are my customers?
- Always keep in mind that you want to build relationships as you would in the real world.
Facebook is still the largest Social Media platform but it is becoming increasingly difficult to grow your followers without paying for advertising. You can see my post here "Is there life after Facebook?"
Is growing enormously and is perfect if you sell beautiful products and you are visually oriented. I personally struggle with Instagram as I am an auditory learner and all those hashtages (#) people use I find overwhelming. But it certainly does well for many people.
Has been around for a long time and has a very loyal base. Listen to this excellent Podcast by Jennifer Priest about using Pinterest better.
I love Twitter because I enjoy "meeting" people from all over the world and although I don't use it as a business tool as I could there are many people who do. You can read about The Yorkshire Shepherdess who has become famous through her Twitter pics and captions.
Whatsapp works fantastically if you are also part of a physical networking group. I belong to several and have received and shared referrals. The constant messaging can become intrusive but most groups I belong to, have strict rules about times. You can also mute the groups when you don't want to participate.
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