One of the easiest ways to grow your business is via social media. There are those in the industry who love it and there are those that loathe it yet every operator has the opportunity to use social media to expand their business’ reach. All smart business owners are using social media to engage with their customers where they are hanging out. Put simply, if you and your business aren’t on social media, you are already one step behind your competitors, so why not let your business knock your competitors out of the park?
I started using social media for my business over three years ago and focused mainly on the two biggest platforms for small business: Facebook and LinkedIn. I was still building my business the traditional ways with advertising, networking and marketing yet saw the opportunity of reaching a wider audience online.
There were some challenges that I encountered in the early days and I found some things worked and some things didn’t. The more I learned through experience and the more I researched social media and implemented a few strategies, the better the results became. In fact, the results were so good I started having other business owners I knew asking me how I did it.
I have spoken to many professional service business owners and they tell me that they don’t use social media as it is their expertise, not themselves, that people buy. I agree with that to a point and that is why I encourage them to talk about their experience and educate their potential leads online through social media. I have helped many professional service business owners to grow their profi le online and increase their customer numbers over their industry average. It doesn’t need to be tacky, or time consuming; you just need to follow the recipe. Rather than dip your toe in the water and then get out as the water’s too cold, just jump in and announce yourself to the world. Here are my top seven ways to grow your business through social media.
TIP 1. Don’t spread yourself too thin
Take some time understanding where your potential customers and clients spend their time on social media and then make sure you go there. Just about every business’ customers are on Facebook and then you can choose between Pinterest (for visual medium), LinkedIn, (for business connections), Twitter or Google+. I advise you to choose the platforms that you will focus on and make them the priority rather than just do a little bit everywhere. LinkedIn has been proven to have the most affluent members on their platform so make sure that you are fully engaged there.
TIP 2. Be consistent
In the beginning you can often feel like you are talking to yourself as your Facebook business page or status updates resemble a ghost town. Attracting a tribe or community is not an easy thing to do unless you turn up every day and show that you are serious about being on social media. Let’s use Facebook as an example: comment on and ‘like’ your fans’ interactions – this way they feel that they are special to you and it is proven that when people like you, they are a lot more likely to do business with you.
TIP 3. Add value
Social media is not the place to go to try to sell, which is where many people trip up. For many, it is like when people knock on your door at home and try to sell to you. If you go about it this way, it is a sure fire way to lose the engagement with your audience and you can actually do a tremendous amount of damage to your brand. Instead, just add value. Post relevant information that will make your audience’s lives better and increase their interest in your industry or offerings. Solve their problem through your expertise and share stories or case studies that back up your information.
TIP 4. Follow up
This is a pertinent tip for LinkedIn, however it is just as important on other platforms. If someone connects with you, make sure you have a follow up system in place. Reply in a personal way and say how happy you are that they have connected with you. Ask what it was that made them choose to connect with you and offer to be available to help them if needed. This is another way of being social and building relationships; as we know, people buy from people that they like and trust.
TIP 5. Be the positive authority figure
No-one wants to hear about your ‘woe is me’ problems on social media or about clients that have just left you. If you are having challenges, wait until you have overcome them and then share them as a learning experience for your audience on how they too can overcome their challenges rather than using social media as a place to vent. Never post negative comments about any customers or competitors. Be the expert and authority figure that leads by example and show the best side of you all of the time.
TIP 6. Get involved in videos
These days, videos are the most popular way for people to make a connection with their intended audience. People trust video a lot more than written copy, especially when they appear unscripted and genuine. I know being on video for many people can be scarier than death but so is having your business fail. To be successful, sometimes you have to do what others won’t do and video is one of these things. Using an iPhone for filming is perfect as it isn’t a large, distracting video camera and the video can be directly uploaded to YouTube for you to share on your other social media platforms or your website. Make some funny ones as well as educational ones and don’t delete bloopers. They endear you even more to your target audience through your genuineness.
TIP 7. Target advertise on Facebook and LinkedIn
Facebook and LinkedIn have this rather cool ability to advertise a promotion or your business to people in an exact geographical location which is great when you are boundary restrained. Not only can you choose the area you are going to advertise to, you can also choose their age, sex, occupation and anything else you know about your business’s avatar (ideal client). By really targeting your exact area and client, your dollar spend is significantly lower than an expensive marketing campaign which can be very hit and miss. Your advertisement will then be shown to your exact audience when they are on Facebook and LinkedIn. Now, setting this up can take a bit of time and effort so either make the investment in paying someone to manage this for you or follow the step-by-step instructions on Facebook tutorial, LinkedIn tutorial or even YouTube. Make sure that you keep your personality and realness and you will have that never-ending stream of clients you always wanted without even touching on referral-based business, which is a huge part of the industry.
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Natasa Denman, author of four best-selling books and founder of The Ultimate 48 Hour Author. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.