There’s more to social media than simply spruiking your wares and retweeting cat memes, it’s also a place to network within your industry and establish your online street cred.
At first glance Facebook and Twitter seem like just another channel for bombarding the world with ads for whatever you’re selling, but treating social media as merely a broadcast medium is a very short-sighted. Social media is all about engagement and relationships, it’s about listening as much as it is about talking.
Social media offers you a platform to reach the world and be recognised as an authority in your field. It’s a chance to provide “thought leadership” – not just blowing your own trumpet but offering insight into the issues facing your industry and your customers.
This might involve linking to your blogging platform where you discuss the issues of the day. Adding a blog to your business website gives it a dynamic feel, assuring visitors that the lights are on and that your website – and your business – isn’t an empty facade.
Regularly updating your website with interesting and informative content, to which people can link, also helps improve your Google search rankings. Not keyword-stuffed gibberish published in a content farm designed to impress Google’s algorithms – which would actually harm your search ranking – but genuine content offering real insights.
If this sounds a bit daunting you might start with something simple like sharing links to articles and other resources which are likely to be of value to the people who follow you. The idea is to become a valuable resource who stands out from the background noise – someone who people will follow in order to stay on top of what’s happening in your field. It’s not a short-term marketing strategy to boost sales, it’s a long-term investment in building trust and credibility within your online community.
Facebook is particularly useful when it comes to networking, not just for reaching potential customers through profiles and pages but also by interacting with other business people through Facebook groups. There are millions of business-focused groups on Facebook, broken down by business size, industry and location. They’re are a great way to make contact with others in your industry, join discussions and share insight. You might also consider creating a Facebook group for your customers, in order to nurture an online community.
Professional social network LinkedIn is another excellent source of business-focused groups. While you’re at it, it’s worth updating your LinkedIn profile to ensure that all your relevant skills and areas of expertise are covered – for many professionals it’s the first port of call when looking for new contacts.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that social media is just a plaything, it’s also a powerful business tool.