I have to admit it, I have spent a year watching people “tweet” “link-in” and “friend” each other, but have still been very skeptical about the benefits to all of the social networking sites. That is until I realized that this is absolutely free public relations. Dwindling budgets suddenly make low-cost social media look like the biggest thing to happen to marketing since the press release was invented. You can get your message out there as often as you want, for absolutely no cost. Of course, there is a downside to this, that being, you can get your message out there as often as you want, for absolutely no cost. If there is no cost involved, will users be thoughtful about what they have to say?
I think the reason that I had been so skeptical is that most of the stuff people put out on their pages/blogs is, well, boring and borderline narcissistic. However, I have been following a few businesses on Twitter that have made me re-think my whole take on social networking. Each day these clever folks post some interesting fact, or helpful link, or thought provoking statement that makes me feel a little smarter or makes me want to find out more about them, and this is when the light went on.
What if each and every day I could think of one helpful marketing factoid and tell it to anyone who wanted to hear it? Just one? And if in turn, another person in commercial real estate posted a related fact, statistic, or provocative piece of information. And they tell two friends, and they tell two friends…… It would be the biggest leads group ever! In fact, one article I read in preparation of writing this blog predicted that Twitter and other social media sites will be the complete downfall of many associations as people will not need to spend the money on annual dues and awful chicken lunches to get the same information that will greet them on their laptop each and every day. Again, I am a bit cynical that it will replace talking with real, live, breathing human beings and the depth of relationships we have in this industry, I do see how in these troubled times we could use this media to raise each other up and become stronger as an industry.
I said all that to say this… if you are not on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, let’s get started today!
There are 3 levels that you need to go through in order to use the tools of social networks to their fullest. It doesn’t matter if you are starting out, or are already on the path – social media networks are vital in business development today:
1. Begin with a Profile
2. Establish your Network
3. Be Entertaining and Informative
Begin with a Good Profile
There are countless people who build a profile and then let it sit, or build it halfway. Just like any other marketing piece you need to draw the audience in. So what makes a good profile?
· Use a good picture – pics are standard now, and not having one reads as absence – especially in sales.
· Be in the Right Networks – Find your networks on these sites. Do some searching around to find your spot(s).
· Be Active – Update, post, use, build and change your profile; make yourself visible and interesting (and professional).
Establish Your Network
Now that you have a profile, you need create your network:
· Search for and connect with all your customers
· Search for and connect with your top prospects
· Seek new contacts by profile searching for your ideal contact, reach out with a simple message – not a pitch
· Join appropriate groups to expand your network and connect with target industry professionals
· Use RSS feeds to share information with your network
Be Entertaining and Informative
Just like the paper or a tv show, people will quit reading/watching if you don’t give them a reason to come back every day. Make sure you are:
· Posting valuable information
· Being relevant
· Creating a buzz
· Be a conduit for others
A word of caution though, be very cognizant of what is appropriate for work and personal use. In this era of being Facebook “friends”, I often see people forget that a Facebook friend could be a potential client, your boss, or a competitor and what you put out there can destroy your reputation in the click of a mouse. (see: http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2008/12/30/2257865-evolution-demands-more-facebook-drunkfail)
It is important to maintain good boundaries with your social media – mixing work with pleasure should always be done with the greatest amount of discretion.
If you are interested in learning more about social media and its potential, we offer specialized training to our clients and will be covering this topic in detail in our Guerilla Marketing seminar coming this summer.
p.s. If you want to follow us on Twitter, we are @small giants……we promise to make it interesting.