Knowing where to be on social media

Just getting started with using social media and knowing which networks  to work with can seem a daunting task, never  mind considering where you’re going to find the time to learn how to use them.

It’s sensible to consider where your target audience is likely to be online and maybe start there, because with any social media network there’s a bit of a learning curve to start with, followed by continual developments that are rolled out.

LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ are all main stream social media networks which could be helpful to your businesses, if you put the time into properly developing a presence on one, two or all three. Time is key here, as in your time to do all that’s required!

Is automated publishing of content a good idea?

Using a platform such as Hootsuite is something to consider, when you’ve actually got the drop of using social media is a two-way process, much like you’d do at a networking event.

It’s a mistake to look on automated publishing of content as a short-cut to building success. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that using a  tool such as Hootsuite is the obvious answer to getting effective exposure on multiple social media networks. Sure, your content will be published more widely, but you need to spend time on the networks, responding to people, sharing their content and generally not doing what so many others do – broadcasting.

It’s a better strategy to spend some time finding out about what other people do, to consider how you might be able to help them. Avoid launching yourself at the world on social media via a thinly, or not thinly, disguised sales pitch concerning what you do and how fantastic a service/product you provide.

Starting with Twitter

My advice, for everyone starting with social media is to have a go with a network that doesn’t take too long to learn how to use, that works fairly seamlessly between laptop, tablet and smartphone.

If you’re someone who enjoys talking to people and having a bit of banter now and again, choosing Twitter as a place to dip your toe into the world of social media is a good place to start. Twitter is a great way to start building a community online, which can be used to benefit your business aims further down the line. If you’d like help, here’s a guide to setting up and using a Twitter account.

You’ll need  to spend some time getting to know a few people to start with and I’d suggest you use a # (hashtag) to find people talking about things that are of interest to you, for business, personal or for just seeing what other people are tweeting about.

Using the # (hash tag) can help you find conversations that are happening. For example #socialhousing or #earlystart (for those of you who do so regularly).

When do you need a social media strategy?

Certainly, getting an understanding of your target market and where they might be on social media is a good place to start but you should, in my opinion, only consider a more detailed social media strategy when you  have gained a good understanding about the social media platform you’re working with, along with how people use it and the type of content that typically gets reaction, whether via shares or responses.

I’d advise avoiding thinking that you should identify a strategy before you start using Twitter as well, better to get on in there, play around a bit and get to understand the good and the not so good ways people are using it. You need to understand that Twitter is essentially about engaging people through conversation.

To reinforce the above, let me ask a question, do you have a strategy before you engage in conversation with someone? Now, think of the people who call out to you in the street, trying to get you to respond  to something they’re offering. The typical response these ‘strangers’ get from people is either head down scuttling past, or head up and a firm “No thank you”. You’ll find much the same scenario on social media, so develop your ‘moves’ accordingly!

How to sell on social media

Twitter and other social media networks can be used for selling  but, like all successful sales people know, you need to spend time cultivating your leads. You can sell on social media, but what you sell first is you; your personality and your sincerity in taking an interest in other people. D’you know it’s much like real life – show an interest in others and people will start to show an interest in you!

Next steps from social media engagement

OK, so you’re getting people engaged and growing an online community on social media, through a variety of means. Next step has to be to get them to visit your website? Actually, I’d suggest that the next step should be to invite them to visit your blog. Notice I use the word “invite”, it’s a low-pressure word.

If you’ve used social media effectively, your online community will be much more likely to respond positively to such invitations to visit your blog, especially if you have created content they consider provides useful insight into something,  speaks in language they ‘get’, gives helpful tips or just makes them smile 🙂

I consider the role of a blog as being a half-way house between social media and website, a place where you can be fairly informal with those who visit, in terms of the way you write. Using “OK” is ok on a blog, not so on a website which is generally, for businesses, much more formal in tone.

Something I’ve learned over the years is, whether delivering training or writing online blog posts such as this one, showing you’re human helps. Developing a style that provides food for thought, tips you think will be useful to your target audience, or a story that reaches out to the reader’s emotions can really help get your content shared out via the social media sharing buttons (please tell me you have them there on your blog?).

Next steps from blog engagement

Don’t miss an opportunity to invite people to subscribe to your blog, which means that every time you publish a post they’ll get notification. Now, if they value what you’re writing about on your blog they’ll see subscribing as a benefit, so they won’t risk missing anything else they could learn from (aren’t most of us like that?)

You’ll see I invite my readers to subscribe, at the end of every blog post. I make sure it’s clear that their email address won’t be used for anything else, putting their minds at ease that I’m not wanting to get their emails to send future sales communications.

Let me tell you now that you’re unlikely to get a rush of subscribers, few do to start with anyway. However, remember that those who do take up the offer are quite likely to become your advocates in the future. By agreeing to receive notification of new blog posts they’re sort of coming ‘on side’ and are much more likely to share content with their contacts and connections on social media.

This method works for me, but I’m prepared to accept that it’s not a model everyone would want to follow. However, if you’re not prepared or haven’t the time to produce content people find helpful/useful/engaging you will likely need to consider paying for advertising to generate the leads you hope for.

Converting website visitors into sales

Invite people from social media to pages on your website too, but make sure the page they’re going to land on has a clear ‘call to action’ and loads quickly. There is a tool called Pingdom for checking page loading times. Remember, people are impatient online, not because they’re essentially rude, just that they want it NOW (aren’t we all a bit like that). If a page doesn’t ‘work’ for them in one way or another, they’ll go elsewhere.

Put yourself in your user’s shoes and take a long hard look at web pages and ask yourself the question, “so, what do I do next?” Remember, people don’t read web pages first, they scan them first. Then, if they find something that grabs their attention they may read that bit. So, think flags!

If you’re confused by understanding how to approach this, give me a call and I’ll take a look at your website and give you some feedback. I’ll even do a quick review for free, if you share this post out to your social media networks – how’s that for an offer (put it down to the sunny weather outside).

Let’s be clear here, I’m not talking about providing a full website audit (I do those too) but I’m happy to give a bit of general feedback to help you with future planning. Contact me for further information about how to benefit the appeal of your website to potential clients.

What to do next

I hope you’ll consider subscribing to this blog by leaving your email address in the box in the right hand column. You’ll receive notification of all new blog posts, nothing else, direct to your email inbox.

You can find out more about what I’ve written on online marketing, or various subjects to do with using WordPress.

My business is about teaching people about DIY websites, helping them to develop a skill to take them on exciting and fascinating journeys using DIY online marketing techniques. It’s my version of lifelong learning – because once you know how, it’s for life!

Other blog posts you may find of interest

What social media can and can’t do

6 Twitter tips for beginners

Keeping tweets under 140 characters



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