A successful social marketing plan is based on building credibility. In other words, instead of directly promoting your business, you need to focus on sharing valuable information that your customers and colleagues can actually use without the prospect of a sale looming over their heads. By doing that, in time, you’ll become an authority in your industry and a sought-after expert. People will seek out your business because the lack of a sales pitch leaves them feeling at ease, and fosters a relationship built on a solid foundation of trust.
This elevated credibility and buzz-building strategy will work on almost any social networking site, from a blog to posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all the way to discussion hotspots like forums and Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. The trick is instead of directly mentioning or promoting your business, make sure that when users click through your ID to your profile or personal page, they can clearly see the URL of your business site.
If they’re intrigued by what you have to say, they’re much more likely to come check you out… especially if they aren’t pushed or fed a sales pitch to go there. What you need to do on your end, however, is make sure you have a compelling opt-in to capture their information, even if they’re not ready to buy that day. That way, you can follow up with them via email, as well as on the social networking platform.
As you start to devise your social marketing strategy, here are five things from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey to keep in mind that should point you in the right direction:
- Make sure you maintain a blog — You might wonder why you need a blog if Facebook and Twitter are so popular. It’s simple: Your blog is YOUR real estate on the web and Facebook and Twitter are beyond your management. You are at the mercy of the powers beyond your control. What if you built your entire social marketing strategy based on a platform that suddenly gets hacked, goes down, is sold, or shut down? That’s why it’s important to maintain a presence on diverse social platforms so if one site goes down, you still have other avenues of communication. Remember: Your blog is your home base and that’s ultimately where you want to funnel your friends and followers.
- Avoid mixing business and personal — While revealing your human side is critical to building trust and relationships, it can be confusing for your followers when you mix business and personal content on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. One way around this on Facebook, for example, is to keep your personal profile personal for friends and family, and set up a fan page to connect with clients, customers, vendors, colleagues and prospects.
- Get integrated! — To make the most of your time and energy, it’s important to link your social sites together. Remember, you’re attracting different people on different platforms and you can increase engagement when you let them know how they can connect with you on other platforms. And, of course, you want to make sure your blog posts—your most valuable content—is being pulled into all sites where it’s allowed so you can draw people back to your home base.
- Maintain a consistent image — For the purpose of developing your or your business’ online persona, you want all your sites to have a consistent image, including the picture you use as an avatar. When someone finds you on LinkedIn and follows a link to your blog or visits your Facebook page, you want them to feel confident they’ve landed in the right place and you’re giving them a compatible experience.
- Participate and converse — Give before you get, as the old saying goes. Social marketing is all about the conversation and in the end the conversation builds the relationship, the trust and the confidence to do business with you.
Remember—Since none of the business that is done on the Web goes on face to face, your credibility is your calling card. Even if it seems like a waste of time to give out free information and ideas, know that the foundation of trust and good reputation you are building are nothing short of priceless!
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebookand Twitter @CarnegieJersey.
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