Chances are you have already put some thought into Social media at some point over the course of 2010. And chances are you or your company is currently finalizing your advertising and marketing budgets for 2011. But how many of you have included Social Media as a part of your marketing and advertising campaigns? Are you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, IP Alley and other social media sites pertinent to your industry or specialty within your field? Those you have created profiles on different sites, how active are you in your social media marketing campaigns? How often do you update your work experience and other information? How often do you post content on your profile? How often do you tweet? These are all things you can and should do. And since we are nearing the end of 2010, I thought I would share with you a list of “Social Media Resolutions” that you should consider implementing in your 2011 Marketing and Brand Building Social Media campaign.
1. Create Your Identity and Build Your Brand
Creating profiles on one or even multiple sites is not enough. More often than not people set up profiles on social media sites, but then never go beyond that first step. Simply having a profile is not going to bring people to you. And even if your profile is found by happenstance, it won’t take long for those reading your profile to see that your profile is old and stale and does not tell them who you are, what you do and what you have to offer! Think of this analogy; if there is a new store opening up in your area that has piqued your interest, maybe by the name, the logo, the store sign or the storefront, but you’re not really sure what it is, you will probably go into the store as soon and it opens so you can see just what that store has to offer. If you are constantly waiting for the store to open so you can see beyond that “front”, but it never does, don’t you think you will loose interest? Your profile cannot just be a window for others to just peer into. You have to open the door and let people in. Until you do that, people will not know who you are or what you have to offer.
Think of your Social Media as a way to build your brand. You are your brand so you have to always be thinking “What do I want people to think of when they hear my name, see my logo or think of me?” When you create your profile(s) you need to make sure it reflects the brand you want to portray.
2. Stay Active But Don’t Take on More Than You Can Chew
I encourage people to create multiple profiles within both industry and non-industry specific social media platformss. For example, I have a profile on LinkedIn, and Twitter but also on IPAlley, a social media platform specific to Intellectual Property. But warn them to only create that which they can keep up with. When you create your profile it is important to consistently check on your profiles. Even if time is an issue, you can still update your status, post links to other things you’ve written, rely to a comments, point your readers in the direction of other information you feel will interest them and send friend/connect/follow requests. Will you be attending or hosting new events within your industry? Share these types of events in advance so they can look for you if they were planning to be there as well or so others can attend if they wish to meet you in person. No one says you have to be active every day, all day, but I suggest that you post something new and fresh at least once a week consistently.
3. Set Goals to Connect to X Number of New People
Building a profile and even staying active on your profile, is not enough to bring people to you. Unfortunately that is not how Social Media works. The “Secret” to Social Media is the connections that you make. Start looking for like-minded individuals that you can connect with and send them a request with a little personal note, to connect. Ask others that you know to introduce you to others they know. When you add a connection you are not just adding one connection but are affording yourself the ability to connect to all of their connections.
4. Build Up Your Relationships With Your Contacts
You have established your profiles and you have a bunch of connections, now what? This goes along with bullet number 3. You have to build relationships with those you connect with. One way to do this is to send personal messages to those you have connected with. Connecting with someone on a personal level is the best way to “break the ice” and bring down barriers that might otherwise get in your way. When you are searching for new contacts, look at their profile and find some commonality, even if it is simply shared connections with others in the business community. Include a personalized messages pointing out this commonality within your invitation to connect. Personal messages are often what it takes to stand out among the many messages they probably get each day.
Also, set up your profile to receive LinkedIn messages in your email inbox. As people respond to your inquiries, or seek you out, you can reply right away. Because customer loyalty means nothing any more, people always respond best to those who reply quickly to inquiries.
5. Connect your different Social Media Profiles
One of the benefits of using social media is that many social media sites will allow you to link your accounts through RSS feeds and third party applications. This will often allow you to post your news on one Social Media Site, yet it will be feed through to and show up on multiple sites. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are three that I currently have linked. I usually post to Twitter and through RSS feeds and third party applications (which you manage in the Settings/connections section of your different Social Media Accounts), my posts, including links and often graphics from those links show up on my Facebook Wall and in the Renee C’s Activity feed on my LinkedIn profile.
6. Keep Up With your Competition
Most Social Media offers a search field somewhere within their site. Search for those you would consider your competition. Search for their company name, their web address, the owner or other employee of their business as well. This will give you the opportunity to not only see what your competition is doing, offering and posting, but will also allow you to see what others say about them.
You should also use search engines such as Google or Bing and search for reviews that others have posted on your competition. This will offer you a unique perspective on what others feel are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Weave this information into your Social Media profiles to show you do not have the same weaknesses or that you can fill a particular need that your competitor is lacking. Always remember, your competitors can and probably do the same to you.
7. Listen to What Others Are Saying About You
Use the same search options you used on your competitors Use these functions to see what others are posting within those sites about you. Search the Internet for reviews of your business, products and services as well. When you find comments, whether they are good or bad, respond in a timely manner while maintaining your professionalism. Send personal messages directly to the one leaving feedback about your company if you can. If you cannot get that information, leave a discreet and professional post stating that you would be more than happy to address their concern if they would like to contact you. If you see a consistent pattern, consider addressing those concerns on your profile so that all current and prospective clients can see that you are aware of deficiencies and have made the necessary changes to correct them. This will show that you are listening to their concerns and have taken them seriously.
8. Establish Your Expertise by Asking and Answering Questions
Many Social Media Sites feature a question and answer area such as LinkedIn Answers where you can answer questions that pertain to your area of knowledge and expertise. By asking thought provoking questions and giving useful answers, you will not only be showcasing your expertise to others but will build credibility as an expert within your field and continue to build your brand. The best questions and answers will give others a reason to look at your profile. Make a point of answering not only random questions, but also specifically answer questions in your field of knowledge and expertise.
This is also a way to build powerful relationships that will grow your business because it gives you the opportunity to “connect” with the person asking the questions. Look up the individual’s profile and find a way to tie in a personal response. When answering questions, be thorough and offer tips, website links with additional information, or even recommend someone who is the best expert on that topic even if it is not yourself. Always end your answer by inviting the reader to contact you privately if they need additional assistance.
9. Send and Request Recommendations
People like to do business with people they like. And even more so, people like to do business with those who come highly recommended. If you have a LinkedIn profile, there is a specific feature on your profile where you can ask others to recommend you. Those recommendations are then featured within your profile permanently other than when a recommendation is withdrawn by the either the recommender or recommended.
Ask for recommendation from previous and current employers, employees and other business colleagues that you’ve interacted with over the year as well friends, professors you had while in school, particularly if your education is pertinent to your industry. If you belong to business groups, networking groups, have spoken at events, and so forth, why not ask those folks for recommendations as well? No one likes to see “I can do this and I can do that…” but usually respond very well to others “tooting your horn” for you.
10. Promote your Social Media Profiles
One of my favorite ways to promote my Social Media accounts is through the Signature that attaches at the end of all of my personal and professional emails. What it does is it makes me more available to those who may not been necessarily looking for my services. If they click the link even out of curiosity, it will let them learn more about me. But what I like most about the email signature is that as my emails are “forwarded” to others, my signature usually goes along with it. This puts me in front of many others who may have no clue who Renee Quinn or IPWatchdog is.
Next if you have a website or blog, include icons with links to your profiles for each Social Media Platform you use. If you look at the top of this page, you notice that just under my information and the article’s page views, there is a bar that says Follow Me. When you scroll over the bar you see a drop down box that offers different ways that you can follow me or our website through different forms of social media on the Internet.
Finally, consider including your profile URLs in all of your printed business materials. When you need new business cards, stationary, sales flyers or any other promotional material, be sure to add your URL(s) to these materials. Again, people often pass this information onto others they think may be interested. One of the first things that most people do when they want to learn about a company or individual business owner is to search the Internet for more information. Why not guide them in the direction you’d like them to go?
If you have decided to utilize the power of Social Media, you must be willing to dedicate time to it. As with any form of marketing, just having it is never enough. You don’t have to do all of these things at once or even all of these things at all. Even if your goal is to simply increase traffic on your website or blog, if you are willing to devote some time to it, even in baby steps, you will likely see results.