Jumping into social media without a solid purpose, plan and a cursory understanding of the rules and best practices may lead to frustration, wasted time and very little return on your effort. Not to mention that you may accidentally tarnish your brand without even realizing it.
As readers already know, my mantra is that your establish your social sales purpose and plan before selecting and learning a technology to help you achieve your goals. Diving headlong into Twitter, or any other social tool without knowing what you are doing and why, will only lead to failure and frustration.
Whether you are just getting started or feel that maybe your social sales efforts aren’t producing the results you want, consider these tips:
- Develop your online identity. To build trust among members of the communities you choose to participate in, they need to know who you are and what you represent (note: I don’t mean the products you sell). It is important that you are clear on the brand identity you want create, promote and manage. Your brand identity matters!
- It’s not about you. Let me say that again…it is NOT about you! Social media is about community; it’s not about what you do and what you sell. Show interest in others, share relevant information that benefits the entire community. In short, build relationships by offering value in advance of the sale, or others will see through your self-promotion.
- Relationship first, selling second. Be patient and give yourself time to build up your brand reputation in the networking community before you ever think of promoting what you sell. Most social groups frown on people blatantly selling what they have to offer. Your job is to first contribute value and relevance to the group without expecting anything in return.
- Observe and learn first. To the time to listen to and observe the dialog that goes on in the online community to get a feel for members interests, attitudes, and personalities. Make sure that you understand the community guidelines in terms of what’s appropriate and what’s not.
- Don’t mix business and personal. When working for someone else, it’s a good idea to keep your friends and family profiles separate from those that you use for your organization or company. You might consider LinkedIn as your primary networking tool (depending on your ideal buyer type, of course) and Facebook as the place where friends and family gather. If you do decide to mix the two, do so with careful thought and consideration.
- Keep it real. Keep it professional. Don’t say anything that will come back and bite you, and avoid the temptation to become defensive is someone disagrees with your comments. This is not the place to get into a turf war. As is so aptly described in Erik Qualman’s Social Revolution 2 video, what’s said in Vegas…stays on…LinkedIn, Twitter,Flickr, Facebook…well, you get the idea. Think before you hit send.
- Start slowly. There is no rush, and you shouldn’t feel as if you have to join every single social site out there. Establish your profile presence on one core site, make time to learn and observe community behavior and guidelines and get training on the technology to be sure you are using it to full advantage. It is much better to start small so that you can participate regularly, instead of spreading yourself so thin that your efforts are scattered.
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Reaping the rewards of social networking takes time, persistence, patience and participation, but I promise you the reward is worth it!