You wouldn’t dream of walking into a room of people and embarking on a monologue.
You wouldn’t dream of meeting someone and after five minutes invite them on holiday.
You wouldn’t dream of trying to sell to someone after you have just been introduced.
So why would you do this on social media?
The first lesson I learned is that social media is perceived as the ‘real world’.
Your behaviours, actions and words will be judged just the same.
And just like the real world, relationships take time to build and require ongoing maintenance.
I am no expert on social media but I will share how we have worked to grow our community and our business through using social media.
We have learnt that social media is a community and not a Billboard.
Unlike in fiction, the ‘If you build it they will come’ mantra doesn’t often work in business unless you’re Apple or the like.
Potential customers do not know you exist and for many small businesses, social media has replaced traditional advertising.
So we get our message out there, get known by using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
I know many more visual companies are amazing on Instagram, and there are several platforms to use, but those three work for us and we are a small team and need to focus our output!
Get known through great content
We decided to write a weekly blog which we initially publish on our website - our aim is to inform, inspire and arouse curiosity.
To carry on the conversation, to give value and share our insights.
Ultimately we want to gain new customers and support current ones, so to have enough of ‘ourselves’ out there in a helpful way builds trust and enforces the message that we really can help.
It’s a slow burn but clients who come through our blog are already invested in us and therefore are connected to our vision.
The blog gives the reader information which we think will prove useful for business owners and entrepreneurs and particularly if they are looking to scale and grow.
So they usually revolve around our core business themes, such as:
outlining your true Business Vision and Your Values
streamlining your Customer Journey
developing great systems around that (having one, right way, to do everything in your business)
building high-performing teams to run those systems
developing managers to free up business owners’ time to work on their business not in it.
We use a call to action at the end which may help them to take steps in their business or to download a freebie e.g. a ‘How To’ or a free chapter of our latest book.
Sometimes we’ll include a plug for our next Bootcamp or a new Programme, but we try not to overdo this as it may turn people off.
There’s always a bit of trial and error involved!
The blog is then posted across our three media channels and a conversation is encouraged.
We have seen our reach increase as a result.
We do sometimes ‘boost’ posts and we have used Facebook adverts to promote events with mixed results.
We feel like we are learning as we go along whilst always on the lookout for tips from the experts.
What has really started to work for us are Facebook Lives, photos from events, and updates on what we are doing, how we work.
These allow more of our personality and passion to come through and have gone down well.
We have also invested in getting some short videos recorded professionally with subtitles and the return on these has been fantastic.
Build Conversations and Rapport
When we publish the blog we check back regularly for comments which we can acknowledge or use to get conversations going.
We check media daily to find articles to read from which we can learn from or gain inspiration and we like/comment on these.
Interaction builds interest.
We also follow people/businesses from whom we can learn or for whom we may have something to offer.
Over time it feels like a network with familiar faces and you start to build rapport where you can let more of your personality come through.
It’s the beginning of building relationships that go beyond social media.
The successful joint ventures we have had recently started from social media connections.
It’s great too to be able to recommend someone in response to a post and it’s great when you see you have been recommended.
The Value of PR
We are very happy with our investment and we regularly get featured in business magazines and publications.
We then post links on our social media channels which gives our followers more content and spreads the word to a wider readership.
Your Brand is always in Uniform
Something I would stress - everything you do on your social media needs to reflect your business vision and be in line with your values.
If you have really thought these through, this should not be difficult because they will align with your values.
If you type a throwaway remark, or if you are having a bad day this may come back to bite you.
Always be true to who you are and what your business stands for and your integrity will shine through and you will build trust.
Do one thing: look at your social media content and check it is a true reflection of your vision and values.
Your audience can tell if you believe in what you post, that you are genuine and adding value to their lives.
Monitor what is Working
In terms of our social media it is more about the quality of the connections we make rather than just numbers.
We monitor Twitter through twitter analytics, interrogate Facebook through their available data and track our LinkedIn followers.
So for instance we publish at our peak readership times on Facebook to maximise our readership.
We record key elements of each channel and chart progress monthly which gives a clear slow steady improvement line which is working for us in how that translates in the business.
Keep Going and Repeat
We get mixed results with our posts and blogs.
Sometimes the engagement is incredible and other times it’s disappointing and we wonder what we have done wrong!
But we have learned to keep going and tried to learn what works and what does not.
Truth to tell we are still on that learning curve but we know we are heading in the right direction.
The most important thing is to be consistent, build your social media content plan, and have a rhythm with your posting - use a scheduler to boost your productivity so that you are not forever on and off social media, and limit yourself to replying to comments to twice a day (for example).
You will be surprised at the most amazingly tenuous links that lead to engagement, or even better, sales!
Sometimes it is the posts you are sure will succeed that flop, whilst the strangest things can fly.