Having a social media presence is vitally important these days. With 300 million users on Facebook, over 20 million on Twitter, not to mention millions blogging, it really gives you access to a wide audience.
A social media presence is an important addition to any marketing arsenal but the key to successfully using social media to build business is not in the technology itself but in the relationships you build and how you use these tools.
Social media is all about connections, about being social. The more social you are (with the right people in the right way) the more successful you are likely to be.
Social media allows you to:
- Reconnect with old colleagues, friends and business partners – to build awareness of what you do now;
- stay in touch with existing members of your network – helping you maintain awareness of what you do and get to know these people better, forging stronger relationships;
- Build new relationships with peers in your industry, prospective partners and customers – to identify and connect with new people you would like to do business with or even learn from.
As with any marketing or business development effort, using social media to build relationships should be done in a strategic and targeted way. You should know :
- the types of businesses or people you want to work with (i.e. old kindergarten friends may or may not be your best prospect so check them out first).
- the industry segments – what type of industries are they in (are they companies you would like to work with?).
- the target geography – i.e. connecting with people in Asia/Europe might not be the best use of your time if you don’t have a business presence there or if you don’t speak their language.
The bottom line is that your social media efforts should reflect your basic marketing strategy in terms of your target audience and your offering: always always bear that in mind.
Perhaps the biggest factor in successfully using social media is interaction. There’s no point in having thousands of followers if you simply push information out to them all the time, interacting at them rather than with them. You will simply appear automated and this will damage your efforts. Join the conversation. Read others’ posts to see which questions you can answer and how you can add value. Share information that is valuable to others by linking to it via your social networks. By thinking about how you can assist people you will find that these people are more likely to remember you and think of you when the time is right.
Finally, when using social media, remember that it should not be the sum and substance of your marketing or business development efforts. Social media is at its best when it complements and reflects your real world networking, marketing and business development efforts .
Thanks to Luc Legay for the image.