In "Million Dollar Web Presence," authors Chad Barr and Alan Weiss lay out tactical strategies for building a brand and business by leveraging the Internet. In the following excerpt, the authors detail how careful use of social media can grow and expand your business and enable you to connect with your customers.
Imagine that you just awoke from a 100-year nap to find yourself in New York's Times Square, where you can eavesdrop on any conversation, check out individual profiles or even listen to their previous conversations. Here it's customary to converse with strangers who are conducting short and random conversations with other strangers, while many are trying to sell products and services.
You are also told that this is where you must conduct your business or you will forever be left behind. Just about everyone roaming the streets is a so-called expert -- even the hobos declare that they own the desired secret decoder ring.
Welcome to social media.
We define social media as the use of technologies to create mutual connections with personal and professional contacts. Social media is also an oxymoron because it is so often anti-social, profane, argumentative, loud and ill-informed, like a bad bar at closing, where everyone is drunk and nasty.
Our intent is to offer clarification and pragmatic ideas so you can leverage social media for success in your business while remaining sane.
There are over 100 million LinkedIn users, over 175 million Twitter users, and Facebook claims to have over 750 million active users. A Harvard Business Review study showed that 10 percent of Twitter users generate 90 percent of the activity.
Are your buyers socializing or interacting on the various platforms? It depends. If your target buyers are consumers, entrepreneurs and service providers, they're probably there. If your target buyers are corporate clients, they're probably not.
If your target buyers are spending some time on these platforms, then social media can help you create a community around your brand while developing and nurturing trusting relationships. Using multiple platforms complements the visitor's access preference. Some may like to contact you via email, some by phone, some via Twitter and some through Facebook.
Using social media can leverage the exponential power of your connections so a friend of a friend may just discover you that way. You never know where the next hit comes from. Your next customer may just have found you on one of the social media platforms.
It also increases the likelihood of the viral effect. If someone likes your content, they are likely to immediately share it with many in their community who may share with many in theirs.
Using social media demonstrates your embracing of technology to better connect with your audience. It helps improve the traffic to your site and the conversion rate from stranger to a prospect to a client.
It allows you to reach out to people who are already communicating on the platform, track discussions and comments about you, your brands, competitors, and partners, and quickly participate in discussions where you may ask or answer questions. And using social media allows you to amplify your voice and especially the voice of your clients.
In order to increase the appearance of your content on these multiple platforms and reduce your labor intensity, we recommend you interface your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Your blog entries will automatically use their title to create a tweet, which will then be posted on LinkedIn and Facebook, both as a status update and as the full post. We realize that this is somewhat redundant, yet some customers may be active on one platform and not another, so this does make sense.
The social media platforms can play a role for you, but it's important to judge ROI. Don't confuse whatever recreational allure they hold for you with legitimate business purposes, and never abandon multi-pronged marketing to spend more time on social media.
Social media action plan in 12 minutes or less per day:
- Create a new blog and aim to post at least three times per week
- Create Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and possibly a Facebook business page, and design attractive Twitter and Facebook screens
- Create a Bit.ly account to shorten your URL tweets
- Start following others and accept requests to follow you
- Integrate social media platforms with each other and with your blog
- Tweet five times per week or more
- Ask or answer three LinkedIn questions per week and repurpose your answers on your blog
- Comment on other powerful bloggers' posts a few times per week
- Engage in discussions whenever you can.
You can't see the entire British Museum, Disneyland or iTunes store in a single day, and the social media and related opportunities on the web are combinations of all three. Take your time, choose your spots and be excellent at a few things, not mediocre at many.