The advent of social media and its rapid rise to prominence in individuals’ personal lives, has compelled businesses to jump on board the bandwagon and attempt to exploit the channel for commercial gain.
The million dollar question is how to translate this very ‘social’ medium into a business context.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have become widely adopted by businesses and incorporated into their marketing mix. Increasingly, staff within these organisations are being encouraged to create profiles to promote their professional expertise to potential clients.
Many businesses regard social media as a just another marketing channel and use it to ‘sell’ their services and products. There is a temptation for employees of these organisations to adopt the same approach and utilise their tweets and LinkedIn status updates as a means to sell their services to their followers.
Utilising social media for this end is generally unproductive and serves to alienate followers, resulting in them removing you from their list of follows.
We would recommend treating social media in a similar manner to which you treat face-to-face networking. You don’t walk into a networking event, rush around the room collecting business cards and leave, all without saying a word. Yet, for some reason, people seem to think this is effective behaviour for social media.
You will probably have heard colleagues or contacts proudly stating how many followers they have on Twitter or connections on LinkedIn. In reality this means nothing. With social media, it is quality over quantity. How many of your followers do you actually engage with? How many connections do you actually have a relationship with?
To truly harness the benefits of social media, you need to engage with your followers, ask questions, show an interest in what they are doing and share interesting information with them.
In tandem with this, let them know what you are up to. Perhaps reference a way you’ve helped a client or an event you’ve attended or indeed are attending. Social media is a fantastically effective medium for conveying your expertise. Just remember not to sell!
Don’t forget that you can use social media to raise your profile internally within your organisation, as well as amongst clients and prospects.
Make sure you consider this when posting updates.