Do you use social media to promote your small business?
In that case all of your small business troubles are over – you’ll never be in the feast and famine cycle again!
Well, actually that’s not true. In fact, it’s a hoax.
A hoax that leaves many small business owners frustrated that “social media doesn’t work”.
But, the hoax isn’t that social media doesn’t work. The hoax is that all you have to do is just “turn up” in social media to grow your business.
I’ve spoken to several small business owners who have created a few accounts, followed and connected with some people but can’t see how this can actually benefit their business.
Are you one of them?
If so I’ve got some good news for you.
Social media does work. I’ve gained several new clients this year from social media.
Actually, with this blog, social media is my only source of finding new clients. It’s how you use social media that makes the difference.
It takes time, more time than you would think, and time costs money. It also takes a lot of effort – but the results can be fantastic.
Would you like to know how to avoid the hoax and use social media to grow your business?
Great! Here are five points that will help.
1. Target Your Perfect Customer
Facebook alone had 901million users at the end of March 2012, LinkedIn reports over 150million users.
Using social media networks like these without a very clear profile of who you are targeting won’t work. You’ll be caught up in so much social media “noise” that you won’t make meaningful connections. Frankly you won’t know whether you’re coming or going.
Having a clear profile of your perfect customer helps you understand the problems that they experience, how you can help and how you can reach them through social media.
2. Spend Time Where They Hang Out
Imagine for a moment that you get an enquiry from someone who could be a perfect customer. Someone you’ve wanted as a customer for a long time.
There is just one down side. They work several miles away, but they are happy to meet to discuss how you could help them.
Would you expect them to drive to meet you?
No. You’d go out of your way to visit them, wherever they were, to get the opportunity to talk to them, right?
It’s just the same with social media. You might prefer Twitter, or Facebook but if all of your perfect customers spend their time on LinkedIn that’s where you need to be.
Social media networks are horses for courses. If you sell to other businesses you’ll likely be better using LinkedIn and if you sell to consumers you’ll be better using Facebook.
3. Make Being Useful Your Mission
Don’t use social networks thinking “who can I sell to?”. It won’t work.
If people think you’re only interested in selling your products and services you’ll be largely ignored and come away very frustrated.
Instead think “who can I help?”. Spend a lot of time listening to what your customers and their contacts are talking about. Learn what is causing them problems.
Get involved in the discussion and share your knowledge. If you give relevant help people will take notice and listen to what you have to say and share it with their own contacts.
4. Be Consistent in Your Efforts
If you want people to take notice of you, and to build your reputation in your chosen social network, you need to show up each day.
If people see your face they will remember you.
That’s not to say that you have to be watching your screen every minute of the day – you’ll get nothing else done. You can use some tools to help you share relevant content from others, and yourself, with your network.
You can then spend whatever time you have each day, even if it’s just thirty minutes, to get involved in conversations with people, be useful and share your knowledge.
5. Build Lasting Relationships
How do you move from discussions on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to gaining leads and growing your small business?
You need to build customer relationships.
You’ll quickly find some people in your chosen networks that you get on well with, you have things in common with and have joined in discussions and been able to help.
Connect with these people, follow them on Twitter and build relationships beyond social media.
The Bottom Line
Social Media is a powerful tool for growing your small business.
You can meet people and build lasting relationships – people that you couldn’t reach using other forms of networking.
But it takes focus, effort and a willingness to be useful.
What’s your experience – is social media working for you or do you think it’s still a hoax?
Please join me for a discussion in the comments.