So you decided to jump into social networking and set up a Facebook and Twitter page for your business. So what?
More and more companies are getting into social media so their customers can “find them”, but if you are not using it correctly you may be doing more harm than good. Having “35 fans” on Facebook, or only having tweeted a couple of times, does your business no favor. I mean, who really cares if you’re on social networking sites? Why should they? You must engage with others – customers, prospects, former clients, partners, vendors, and employees for example – outside your profile to find out what they want from your presence online.
Which reminds me… Why are you on Facebook and Twitter? Do you want to be seen as an “expert” in your field? Do you want to offer good insights about your business? Are you giving your customers a place to talk about you and ask questions? Determining why you have put yourself on Facebook or Twitter or any social networking outlet is the first step and should be done BEFORE you even sign up for an account. You don’t jump into a pool of sharks without having a life jacket, and you don’t invest in social media without a plan.
Social media should not be an either/or business plan, it needs to be incorporated into what you already have, and you need to have an established web presence of your own design first. That’s the foundation of your brand presence online. Adding Facebook and Twitter allows more reach and rendezvous with your customers and gives your company a face to the public that’s sociable. Social networking allows you to network… socially (Duh). Utilizing these sites enhances how you talk, who you talk to and what is being said by you and your customers. It’s all social, it’s all about communication and it’s all about engaging.
So, now you know why you want be on a social networking site, how are you going to maximize your potential and reach? A good rule to follow is the 60-30-10 rule. 60% of the time you are listening, 30% you are engaging and 10% you are promoting yourself. In order to be seen as an expert, you must experience. And to gain experience online, you must listen, ask questions, answer questions, and start conversations. Taking time to communicate with influencers is an important step to expanding who is listening to you, and should be listening to you. Are you a non-profit? Are you communicating with other non-profits or organizations that support your goals and have good insights to the cause you are promoting? If you are not starting conversations with them, you are missing out on an important piece of the social networking puzzle. You can’t just set up a profile and leave it, expecting people to come! You have to go out there, show them what you can do and prove to the public why “following” you, “friending” you or becoming your “fan’ is worth their time. Are you a local business? Are you talking with other local businesses that can help you grow your customer base? Are you a restaurant that is offering your customers specials, talking to them about your menu and starting conversations? Don’t let others do it for you, take the bull by the horns and create the talk. You can’t just create a profile, give minimal information and expect people to care. You have to take steps and put yourself out there and show that as a business, organization or person, you are willing to listen, talk and be social.
Becoming social on sites like Facebook and Twitter is becoming a “must” if you plan on being successful. But if you are not engaging and making it worth people’s time they aren’t going to care, and you are not going to win. Taking time to establish your presence, determine why you are there and making the effort to listen, communicate and promote will ultimately lead to accomplishing the social networking scene, and let’s face it, you can’t afford not to.