The word networking can, for many, conjure up images of awkward conversations at conferences, forced laughs and the collecting of business cards. It shouldn’t. In today’s world social networks have made it easier than ever before for you to build an engaged network for your business. Creating and expanding your online network is an incredibly important function as we continue to increase the amount of our waking hours online (In the US the average American spends 23 hours of their week online).
Through effecting networking you and/or your business can become the known and recommended expert in your field. Get your networking right and others will do the marketing for you, the social referral is a powerful tool. So how can you create an engaged following around your business on social media?
Follow The Leaders
Check out the competition. If your competitors seem to have a much greater social media following then find out why. Take a look at who competitors interact with and interact with them too; if you can get responses from larger organizations this will also push more users your way. The important thing is to make sure that you are getting involved in appropriate social media conversations. Throw out your net and collect more followers/friends by sharing information that interests you and has a relevance to your business this will attract like-minded people. It is crucial to remember you are the voice of your brand so keep it classy
Create Your Own Content
If you are constantly retweeting other people’s content you’re not providing something that users cannot find for themselves. Make sure you keep your network up to date with developments surrounding your business. Consider writing a blog suitable to your business in order to give you some content to publish that is your own and that will encourage followers to visit your site.
Share any content with other people in your field and invite comment. Likewise make sure that you are commentating and engaging with other professionals. It’s important to build and be part of an online community.
Social media analytics will allow your business to track its social media activities and to glean some insight into the success of your marketing strategies form the results. Analytics can effectively “improve your social media engagement, make marketing decisions and tie social media to your bottom line”
For small business starting out and dipping their toe into social networking, advanced social analytic tools may not something they are ready for. There are easy to use features on any social platform that you can use to increase engagement such as using hastags when tweeting on Twitter to get involved in a trending topic or the endorsement function on LinkedIn which will allow you to endorse other professionals you have worked with in the past or be endorsed yourself.
Right Place, Right Time,
“ If context is king, context is god” . You could have great content but if you are putting it in the wrong place it won’t make the impact you desired. Context relates to the way you adapt content specifically for the target audience. Are your customers the type of people who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Tumblr? Sometimes what you post on Facebook may not be suitable for another network like LinkedIn. Are your audience likely to understand insider jargon or will you have to keep posts in laymans terms?
There are context rules that are important not to break. Avoid in-your-face sales pitches. Nobody likes a hard sell and it is a sure fire way to make people disengage with your business. Try to find a suitable tone and style for your brand that your think your audience is expecting.
Building an engaging network for your business can be done immediately, you only require internet access. If social media is utilized skilfully your network of social media connections can yield results far greater than any other marketing activity.
By Sam Shedden