One of the biggest complaints I hear most often from the business owners that I consult with is that they STILL haven’t seen any results from social media.
They are wondering, is it everything they say it is? Am I just wasting my time? When is this finally going to pay off?
You see, these business owners are already using social media (or trying to, anyway). Most have read blogs or news articles, they have some fans or followers and they spend some time on a regular basis tweeting and posting on Facebook.
All of this is great – I’ve made a lot of connections, I’ve learned a lot, but HOW exactly do I use this to grow my business?
Does that sound about right to you?
I’m sure it does.
“But, Sye, social media people say I’m not supposed to sell… it’s all about the relationships. They say a sales pitch is like social media suicide. But now I have all these relationships, but no sales. So now what?”
The truth is while social media IS all about the relationships you must also find creative ways to sell your products and services.
Most people do one of two things: they either ONLY sell and are spammers, or they don’t sell so they aren’t a spammer. A good social media marketing mix has BOTH.
When you develop relationships with your potential customers using social media channels, doing business with you naturally becomes an opportunity, or the next step.
Today, I’m going to share with you my system for developing relationships AND how to sell your products or services in social media to maximize your results.
STEP ONE: FIND & LISTEN
Listen is a buzzword you hear thrown around a lot lately – but what does it actually mean?
Listening is about using social media as a tool to research what people are saying about a topic, right now.
Let’s say you want to open a toy store in your city and you want to know what people are saying about different brands of toys. Or let’s say you own a landscaping company and you want to know what difficulties people are having with lawn care. You can find out the answers to these and just about anything you can think of in social media.
You do this by:
- searching keywords on twitter
- reading consumer blogs
- monitoring google alerts on the topic
- participating in online forums
The idea here is to participate in social media as if you were your customer, not the business owner to find out exactly:
- Where do your customers ‘hang out’ online?
- What do they talk about?
- What do they need instead of what you are selling?
- What are their problems and how can you help solve them?
Now that you’ve found your customer and you’ve listened to them, it’s time to connect with them.
STEP TWO: CONNECT
Connecting is either directly following or sending a connection request to literally connect your profile with the profile of your target customers.
Some types of people you might follow in addition to your target customer might be:
- experts in your industry
- people in your geographic area
- related business, professional services
These are all people you can do business with in various ways, like:
- affiliate marketing
- cross-sales & upsells
- joint ventures
I suggest you be selective to a degree, but don’t get hung up on this!
STEP THREE: ORGANIZE
It’s true, there is a lot of noise and garbage out there, and if you aren’t organizing your connections in social media, you’ll quickly get swept into it, and social media will become a time-management nightmare.
As SOON as you connect with someone, you must organize that connection, using lists on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Typical ways I organize people:
- Influencer, expert
- Type of lead
- Current customer
- Potential partner
The key here is to categorize the person you’ve connected with by their relationship to your business.
This doesn’t just apply when you connect with others, remember it also applies when someone follows you or sends you a request. You should assess both whether or not to connect, and what the potential relationship that person has to your business and then organize them on the appropriate list.
Now, you have some context when you are spending time in social media: WHO are you talking to and WHY are you talking to them.
In my opinion, this is the MOST CRITICAL step in social media that most people overlook.
STEP FOUR: SHARE & ENGAGE
When you’ve done the leg work to know who you are engaging with to and why you are engaging with them, the time you spend in social media will be much more productive and useful.
This part is the most natural part for people – the talking part – which is why we tend to skip all the other steps and jump straight to it.
People still ask me, what do I talk about?
- Share about yourself (you don’t have to share “private” things to share “personal” things)
- What are you doing right now? What inspires you? Makes you laugh?
- Ask thought provoking questions
- Share your best tips, tricks, and strategies
- Answer questions and be helpful
- Movies, music, and other interests
- News and current events
The most important thing is find your unique voice and not just broadcast but also converse. Remember this and you’ll be golden, “Be interesting AND interested.”
STEP FIVE: INVITE
Let’s recap a minute. You have:
- Found your target audience and listened to what they really want
- Connected with them and organized them accordingly
- Engaged with them – both by sharing about yourself and getting to know them
Now this is where the rubber meets the road! It’s time to sell, or extend the opportunity to take a committed action (beyond the social channel you’re engaged in) or the opportunity to do business with you.
I call these social “invitations”. Things you can invite people to:
- Read, comment or subscribe to your blog. (When you do this, ensure your blog has compelling links to your products and services prominently displayed for readers to see and click on.)
- Subscribe to your Email Newsletter or SMS list for exclusive content and discounts you don’t share in social media.
- Free information on teleseminars, webinars, e-books, etc
- Speaking Events, meet ups, and offline events like community or social events
- Links to connect with you on other social media platforms
- Enter a contest or sweepstakes
- Links to product reviews or affiliate product offers
- And, gasp! Links to new products and services that you think would be of interest and benefit to them.
Once again, you shouldn’t be ONLY doing this, but you should be peppering these marketing messages creatively into your social media strategy while continuing to implement all the other steps.
Of course, if you haven’t built relationships by with steps one through four, offering a product or service is like a tree falling in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it.
On the flip side, relationship building without ever selling anything, makes social media a “social activity” rather than a “business building” one.
So once again, the formula for building a successful and profitable business in social media is:
1. FIND & LISTEN
4. SHARE & ENGAGE
Psst.. by the way
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According to Shareaholic Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined and Hitwise reported that in the past six months visits to Pinterest have grown by 4,000 percent.
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