Many small businesses owners are jumping onto the social media band wagon. If you are one of them, hopefully you have done your research and determined which social media sites make the most sense for your business (primarily based on where your customers or clients are spending their time). If you are already active, see below for a tip that can help you connect with clients and get business.
Use Social Networking to help Clients Connect the Dots for your Small Business
I have a tip, especially for solopreneurs who provide services such as business and life coaches, authors, independent PR and marketing pros, virtual assistants, mompreneurs, bloggers who are in business, and others. Don’t think of each social media site you participate in as a stand-alone site. Connect your various profiles to help your audience, and potential clients/customers, connect the social media dots and form a strong image of who you, as a business owner are.
What I mean is, if you are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and also have a blog, you should consider connecting these services to one another to make it easy for your existing and potential clients to find out more about who you are and what you do. Each site offers your audience a different perspective on you and your business. For example, if I answer a question on LinkedIn, and someone finds value in my answer, they may connect with me via LinkedIn. Once they do, they can read my most recent blog posts right there on LinkedIn (I use an app to pull the full post onto my profile). If they again like what they read, they may click through to the blog directly, and read what I have to say in other posts. From my blog they can see links to my Twitter and Facebook pages, if those are sites they use, I’ve made it easy to connect with me.
Blogs and Websites
A good website enhances and expands on the information about your business and skills that may be on LinkedIn. A well-written blog provides even more opportunities to showcase your expertise. A static LinkedIn page shows where you have been, and some of what you have accomplished. A blog gives you a forum for sharing your knowledge in a way that helps your customers learn something, do something better, and understand something new, especially if you business provides a service. If you provide a product, then you can use a blog to tell them about ways it can help them, about trends in the industry, about what features they might want to see, and it can be interactive. Once you get a blog going, and if you are active in social media, you will begin to get comments. Be sure to read them and comment back. A dialogue with someone on your blog can really make you stand out among your competitors. Your image in their minds becomes stronger, you helped them connect the dots in a very strong way. People involved in blogging and social media love to share a good story, blog post or positive customer service interaction. They might just help to spread the word about you.
On my blog, I have profile “badges” or small clickable buttons leading to my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles, and on each site, I link over to the others.Â These are the next “dots” that folks can use to connect who you are, and what you have to offer. For a blog or website, you can set up what’s called a profile badge for each site, copy the code, and then add it to your blog or website. Or you can use a service like retaggr or the WordPress plugin Follow-Me.Â Ideally, you are active on all of the pages you link to, and are providing different, but related, content on each site that helps this hypothetical client prospect connect the dots and fill in an image of your business, to get a further feel for who you are and what your expertise is.
A LinkedIn profile at it’s basics provides an online work history or resume, so someone can get a feel for your background. It can be much more (but that is fodder for another post). So fill it out completely, and be sure to add links to all of the sites where you are active. Also, be sure to update your status at least a few times a week. As a colleague Irene Koehler noted in a recent Twitter #SmallBizChat that I hosted, don’t forget that Google ranks LinkedIn profiles fairly high in their index for your name. So why not put on your best face and show that you are actively engaged by updating your status. Better yet, ask or answer a few questions on the site. It gives you another way to showcase your expertise or knowledge on a subject.
Facebook and Twitter allow you to interact with people in a public way (there are private options to communicate on each site too). Both sites allow you to share links to interesting online articles and resources; to provide value to your clients and prospects, and your friends. People tend to begin using Facebook to connect with family and friends, but solopreners and small business owners often begin to see it’s value for connectingÂ their business and their clients who use Facebook. When you reach this point, try setting up a Facebook Fan Page or a Facebook Group, once you have defined how one or the other fits into your larger strategy for providing value to your clients.
Twitter can be another dot in creating the image of your business. Twitter is great for connecting with anyone who shares an interest in things you are interested in. It is often a mix of business and personal information, if you only post links to your site, your connections there won’t grow quickly. For my POV on Using Twitter, click here. It can take getting used to, but has been very successful for many small businesses, as it is opt-in. If individuals like your info, they “follow you,” or click a button and then see your messages on their page. Since all you give out in a Twitter profile is an image, short bio, and a website or blog link (no phone numbers, no email addresses), it is easier than other sites to connect with people you have never met, nor worked with before.
For me, Twitter is a way to source links to great content (blog posts, news articles, software and tools, breaking news and industry info) that is of interest to me and my audience. It also allows me to easily interact with people asking and answering questions. Following someone’s Twitter stream or tweetsÂ (as the flow of short 140 character messages arecalled) gives you insights into an individual. How they use twitter (once they get the hang of things – I don’t judge anyone by their first few weeks of activity) can tell you a bit about how they are in business. Do they just send out notices about their own stuff? Do they interact with others in a positive manner, do the provide value, do they show a sense of humor, do they help others, do they answer questions asked of them. It is kind of difficult to lie about who you are in 140 character bits over time. Your personality shows, and that can be a good thing for helping clients connect the dots about you and your business.
How Do You Connect the Social Media Dots?
Let me, and my readers, know how you connect the social media dots for your clients, customers, or audiences. Feel free to ask questions about ways you can connect with your clients, or let me know how I can help you connect the PR and Social Media Dots for your business or organization.