The use of social media can and should vary from business to business. Like print media, there are many ways to increase awareness using social media. For instance, print includes anything from newspapers to flyers to business cards – they all serve different purposes and the sort of content you publish in them can range from photos, advertising, articles, and contact information. Online social media is no different. Choosing a social medium and how to use it should be based upon your business’ objectives. However, there are some golden rules all businesses should apply to the social medium of their choice.
The following sections contain strategic social media tactics for the most popular outlets. Whatever industry you might be in, these are tactics that should be employed for each medium.
Follow blogs about your industry, leave thoughtful comments and contribute to the ongoing dialogue to build credibility. Once you are aware of what is already being said, you can then create your own business-oriented blog to continue the conversation. Once in a while, throw in a transparent post to add a touch of personality, allowing your followers to identify with you, strengthening trust and loyalty.
It was in this way that Michael Hyatt, the New York Times bestselling author of “Platform: Get Noticed In a Noisy World,” began his blog.
“He built a community of support for his blog by sharing other people’s content — including the postings of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and Dave Ramsey — and helping them sell their products,” writes Melinda Emerson in her New York Times article, “Blogging to Build your Business.”
LinkedIn may be the best channel to position your team members as thought leaders in your business’ industry or even within their own specific professional expertise, such as PR, sales, or organizational management; the goal with both is to build networks. LinkedIn provides several applications for such communication. You can create a “Group” page and post articles, participate in LinkedIn “Answers” by responding to members’ questions, and regularly update your social status, which is conveniently linked to Twitter.
Twitter may indeed be a more suitable forum for unearthing prospects than Facebook because you can actually search for specific conversations. For example, let’s say you own a housekeeping business. Using Twitter’s advanced search tool, you type in the keywords “clean house maid” and enter Salt Lake City as the area you want to target. When we tried this, the second search result was a woman who was saying her mother is in need of a maid. Another few tweets below that one was a woman announcing she was going to call the business Molly Maid to clean her house. Keep in mind that the search terms should mimic what someone would actually write in a Tweet or in other words, how people naturally speak. When we attempted to search for “housekeeping maid housekeeper clean house,” we netted zero results.
Comcast uses Twitter to connect with customers who may have service concerns, as an avenue to try and help in addition to traditional phone and e-mail assistance. In 2011, Time Magazine named Comcast as a Top Twitter Feed.
One outstanding Facebook strategy that should always be utilized by any type of business is the promoting of and complimenting of others, whether they are business partners, employees or customers. Spread good news, such as promotions, upcoming events, awards or job openings; everyone enjoys compliments and it is smart networking. It also generates secondhand attention for your business; when you tag someone in your post, that person’s friends are then notified in their news feeds.
The cultural rule on this social networking site is this: share unique, visually-appealing content. Start following your audience base on Pinterest and repin images from their boards to your own that are relevant to your business or industry. It becomes a learning experience for both parties; you discover what customers or potential customers want from your industry and they in turn receive notifications in their sidebars that your business repinned their images, contributing to top-of-mind awareness.
The lesson to take away here is this: social media is in essentially conversation. No one likes to hear someone talk about themselves all the time. Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest are about your customers; if you view it as just another venue to promote your business, you will lose followers. However, if you represent your honest beliefs and views, are authentic, personable and spark conversation, you will attract readers, fuel discussion, build relationships and engage your community members in sharing their experiences.