Many people use the term “Social Media” to represent the vast array of social networking sites, social media sites, and tools available. What we’re really talking about is the Social Web. The Social Web is made up of Social Networking and Social Media.
Social Networking is about sharing the conversation. Social Media is about sharing content. Combined they form an effective toolbox to grow you business.
Sharing the Conversation
There are hundreds social networking sites available and you could spend unlimited time trying to determine how to use each. I’m looking to use social networking in as efficient manner as possible so I focus on two networking sites and one hybrid.
The two sites that I use are LinkedIn and Facebook. Both allow me to build communities of people, engage and interact with them, and communicate to on an ongoing basis. The results may include branding but the end goal is always monetization.
LinkedIn is a natural fit from a membership perspective. The average household income per member is $109,000, close to 80% have attended college, and 49% are decision makers. The average LinkedIn member is a great prospect.
LinkedIn is a somewhat closed environment and it takes time and effort to build the right communities and typically most of our communications are indirect in nature. I want those in my networks to see the messages I deliver over time and to get to know, like, and trust me so that when they have a need for the services I provide, I’m top of mind.
It also doesn’t hurt that you have the ability to prospect and then see how you connect into each opportunity.
Things are much looser on Facebook. Building communities of the right people still takes time and effort but you can reach out to others without some of the restrictions on LinkedIn. I still primarily communicate with indirect messages, but it just seems easier to do on Facebook.
Most of my prospects live in Atlanta and the Atlanta network on Facebook has over 1.8 million people. If I can engage the right ¼ of a percent, that’s 4,500 people to communicate my message to.
The hybrid is Twitter. Twitter is a microblog which seems like it would be part of the social media side. But there is a community aspect in terms of those you follow and those that follow you. Relationships do develop and you can build a significant community of people.
Twitter to me represents a great communications tool. At any point I can tweet a message that will be seen by a percentage of my followers and a percentage of non-followers through the public timeline.
If I build a community of 10,000 followers then at any point that I tweet a message it has the potential to be viewed by a percentage of my followers who are online at the time. Not everyone will be online and see the message. But if I consistently tweet two times a day, every day for six months, then I should be able to place several messages in front of the majority of my followers during this time.
The goal is to communicate the right message that is viewed by a number of followers at the right time. It’s a numbers game and I trust that stars will align often enough to be an effective vehicle to drive traffic and eventually business.
Sharing the Content
The internet is nothing more than a super database of content that people search through to find relevant information. Your goal is to provide valuable content that can be found. If they find your content, they find you.
On the Social Media side YouTube allows you to share video content. The site drives a tremendous amount of traffic and can be an extremely useful tool. The ability to tag your videos with keywords allows you to gain exposure to a targeted audience. You simply need to know the keywords your prospects use to find services such as yours.
Another benefit is that in video you can communicate your message in a more engaging format than with simple print. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good video is worth a million. You can demonstrate expertise, convey an image, and create a mood. Do it creatively and you may find that not only do people want to view your “commercial”, but they share with those they know.
Flickr is simply a photo sharing service. The key to Flickr is the ability to tag photos with keywords. Once again you simply need to know the keywords that your prospects use to search online for your services.
Flickr isn’t the most important part of the puzzle but it does play its part in creating your Digital Footprint…which we’ll discuss shortly.
The final tool that I use to communicate with prospects is a business blog. Most people have websites and they should. A website establishes a presence. It allows you to list your products or services, it can provide educational or information content, and drive sales through ecommerce features.
Most websites “tell and sell” but don’t really do a good job of communicating. Blogs on the other hand are perfect for communicating to and engaging with your visitors. A business blog should convey what your business is about through what it talks about, the information it shares, and the interaction with those posting comments.
The SONARconnects website is designed to tell people who we are, the services we use to help our clients, and how to contact us. On the Social Media Sonar blog I’m more interested in providing valuable content to people, engaging in conversations, and building trust over time.
There’s a difference in the people who contact me through the website compared to those who contact me after reading the blog. The website prospects are contacting me because a service I provide interests them, where those from the blog are contacting me because through the blog they have come to know, like and trust me. They still have a need for a service I provide but the conversation starts from a position of trust.
Back in the early 2000’s I used Pay-Per-Click campaigns to communicate my message to prospects at the right time…when they were searching for a need based on a keyword. For a while it was cost effective generating $5 for every $1 I spent. Over time the economics changed as more competition came online and competed for the keywords. As a small business I simply couldn’t compete dollar for dollar with the larger companies.
That’s when I turned to social networking. I can compete on cost because most of the sites are free. I only needed to out think and out hustle the larger companies. That’s much easier than competing based on dollars. (note: for some client’s we still conduct Pay-per-click campaigns where the ROI makes sense)
There’s also what I call your Digital Footprint. Most of the activity that you conduct on the various sites is googleble, meaning it gets picked up and indexed by Google. Over time with the right activity you have the ability to capture front page real estate on Google for specific keywords.
These are the six tools that I use on an ongoing basis. The key is to build your communities, engage in conversations, build trust, and communicate your message so that when the time is right you’re top of mind with the prospect..
What are some other social networking/media tools that are working for you?
Social Media Sonar provides the following four resources for FREE… 1. The Blog, 2. The Online Marketing/Social Media Blueprint, 3. Conversion Rate Optimization Guide, 4. Resource Center. If these help you implement your own online marketing program, great. We love helping people. If you decide you need some help, great. We love new clients. Contact Us if we can help you.