Say it, Don’t Spray it! A Business Guide to Using Social Media

Are you using social media to promote your business?  Whether a newbie to the social marketing game or approaching ninja status, the number of platforms and online resources which offer help can be overwhelming.  Let’s cut through the noise and reduce all that info down into a simmering pot of delicious practicality. (This article is focused toward small businesses, for commercial real estate and office space articles, visit our blog page. )

By now you probably understand that you SHOULD be marketing yourself or your business online, but why?  Social media offers business owners, even the one-man startup, something never before so universally available–reach and scalability.  Your online marketing efforts aren’t any different than your traditional offline efforts, but social media gives you instant access to the world and the ability to reach new people like never before.  Your strategy may be the same but you tactics will need to change for the online world.

Keep it Simple

The number of social media platforms continues to grow–Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pintrest, etc.  The key is to focus on those that make the most sense for your business.  As a commercial real estate professional, I find the most beneficial are LinkedIn (a key platform for most professionals) and Twitter.  Through these channels I can search for and connect with others in my industry as well as prospective clients.  Twitter allows me to quickly connect with people and keep them updated on our business.  Since I work B2B, LinkedIn allows me to search for and connect with other professionals and business owners in my area of Greater New Orleans.  These are the two I focus on.  The others are secondary.

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You may find that other platforms like Pintrest are beneficial if you are in a more visual field like design or architecture.  Facebook is good if you post a lot of rich content like blog articles.  YouTube is great for posting videos.  The  basic point is to start simple, with one or two platforms at most, then gradually expand once you have the hang of it.

Talk, Don’t Shout

Just like in the offline world, to develop new business you must connect and interact with people.  Many make the mistake of blindly promoting their business.  Our brains have gotten good at filtering out advertising, so don’t even bother trying.  Instead, offer information, education and your own unique voice to the conversation.

One of my favorite rules is the Twitter rule of thirds, helpful when getting started.  Divide your tweets into thirds:

  •  1/3 of them should be links to other articles/news
  • 1/3 of tweets should be communicating with other users
  • 1/3 should showcase your own personality, life, sense of humor, etc

Remember, the key is to connect with people, this rule helps  make sure you’re not just shouting, but engaging in meaningful communication with others.

Consistency

If you want to see results with your online efforts, it is important that you are consistent.  Work out a schedule or a routine and stick with it.  If you go to a networking cocktail hour and only talk to one or two people, you won’t get your message out there.  The same is true with social media.  Do it often and do it regularly and you will see results.

An easy trick to keep yourself consistent is automation.  There are programs out there like Hootsuite, and Buffer that allow you to schedule tweets to be sent out later.  Spend a few hours one day and write out all your “evergreen” material for the month–quotes, jokes, links to blog posts, whatever–in a spreadsheet.  Then use an app like Buffer to schedule those tweets on a daily, 2x daily, basis.

Even if you decide to automate some of your perennial material, it’s important that you get on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/etc. every day to interact and post more timely content.  By compiling your evergreen material and sticking to a schedule, you will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend online this way.

Expertise

Why do we use social media at all in business?  To extend our reach and gain clients/customers.  To do this, you need to be viewed as an expert in your trade!  Make your own content like blog posts or whitepapers and get it out there.  Participate in LinkedIn Groups and answer questions people have pertaining to your field (a great way to get clients).  Gathering content from elsewhere online like news articles and others’ posts is great but to be viewed as an expert you have to get your voice heard.

By following these guidelines, you will be sure to see your following and your business grow over time.  Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  It will take time to build your presence online, but it will be well worth the effort.

Do you have any social media tips?  Leave them in the comments section below.

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