When Kim Taylor, a client of mine and owner of The Retreat Day Spa and Salon, crossed the 1,000 fan threshold on Facebook, the need for advertising in traditional marketing mediums dissipated. Her fans did it for her, freely and enthusiastically.
Facebook is just one of the social media platforms that has brought on this revolution. Twitter, You Tube, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and hundreds of online forums and micro-sites have done it as well.
But how do you use them to build your business? Here are four secrets to success with these social media platforms:
Secret 1: CREATE
There’s important information your customers need to know, from how to pick a contractor who won’t rip them off to how to keep from paying too much in taxes. There’s important information you possess on topics like these as well.
Enter social media, the great connection point for content.
When you know exactly who your core customer is and what’s really on their mind, speak to it. Repeatedly. From blog articles to infographics, from one sentence words of wisdom to a picture that’s worth a thousand words. Meet the pressing needs of your customer by creating compelling content and generously sharing it.
And do that in a variety of ways. Some people like to read, others like to watch, and others, still, prefer to listen. Create content, then, for a variety of social media platforms in a variety lengths, from super short tweets to more in-depth whitepapers, and everything in-between. This allows customers to experience your point of view in a way that works best for them, and for you to powerfully influence buying decisions.
Secret 2: CURATE
In addition to being a trusted source for reliable content, social media allows you to be a trusted filter for reliable content. That’s what I mean by curate: to sift through content available online and off-line and recommend the very best to your customers.
Over 150,000 business books will be written this year. I can only read a minute fraction of them. But when a colleague recommends a book, like the one I’m reading right now by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, the third edition of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, I’m all over it. Millions of business articles will be written this year as well. About once a week I select from the vast array of article options and make a recommendation on the social media platforms I participate in.
The busy entrepreneurs who follow me love it.
Secret 3: CELEBRATE
One of the most powerful things you can do in social media is celebrate the success of others. Most every platform has some way of declaring to the world your endorsement of a friend or colleague, a product or a service. Facebook and You Tube have “likes” and comments. LinkedIn has recommendations. Twitter has re-tweets and Amazon has reviews.
Here’s how to use them well:
- First, be honest. It should go without saying, but the Internet is full of scams. Don’t recommend something you haven’t used or exaggerate the results you got from using it. And, if you in any way receive financial remuneration for your recommendation, tell me.
- Second, be specific. “Great blog post!” while well-meaning (maybe), is utterly useless. Clearly stating what made the blog post great for you adds value and perspective.
- Third, be brief. When celebrating someone else, it’s not about you. Keep your comments short and succinct. Practice pith.
Finally, here are those that believe that the Internet should be a place where anything can, and should, be said. I disagree. I believe the tried and true principle, praise in public, correct in private, applies to social media. In fact, when you’re staring at a computer monitor and not a real human being, it’s far too easy to rant and rave in complete disregard for another’s feelings. Asking honest questions is fine, but hold the harsh criticism, it only makes you look bad. Focus on being a positive, productive contributor to the conversation.
Secret 4: COLLABORATE
A fourth way social media is so useful in building business is through collaboration. I have had conversations with people in Europe while sitting in my office in Oregon regarding developments in China. You can too. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that you must. Because it is those who learn to collaborate in our brave new socially connected world that that will dominate their marketplace, leaving others behind.
In Michael Stelzner’s brilliant book, Launch, he proposes the following formula for business growth:
GC plus OP minus MM equals AG
GC stands for great content. MM stands for marketing messages. And AG, of course, stands for accelerated growth. A critically important part of this formula, however, is OP, or other people. So great content plus other people minus overt marketing messages will result in accelerated business growth.
I’ve leveraged the power of other people by conducting one-on-one interviews and participating in joint projects with other consultants. The enthusiastic endorsement of a recognized expert in your field is also another way to bring collaboration to the table, as well as having a team of people in your firm managing its social media presence.
Bottom line: social media is first social. Be social, and it will lead to success.