People Buy People: Maximising Social Media for Your Business

Social media covers a number of different platforms that enable a user to interact and share information such as comments, photographs, videos and audio, publicly or privately with another user online. The most well-known social media platforms include LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Social media offers a previously unparalleled opportunity for engagement with brands, companies and users due to the instantaneous access to significant part of the global population.

Social networking sites, also referred to as micro-sites or micro blogs, are essentially self-promoting, in that users spread the word for the sites.

The more quickly social networking sites grow, the more quickly the content uploaded to them spreads. 

This viral quality is therefore an appealing way for businesses to market their products and services. Social media platforms are sophisticated enough to enable specific targeted advertisement (e.g. on Facebook) or to enable companies to provide adverts and links to existing offerings such as online shops on their website. A tweet for example could have the direct link imbedded along with an advert highlighting the arrival of the company’s latest products or services. This article contains some tips for getting social media right and hopefully generate good will and revenue for your business.

Top Tips

Profiles

If you’re a small to medium business you wouldn’t introduce yourself as Smiths Independent Financial Planning, you’d go with Jo Smith. The reason for this is to do with building up trust. It’s harder to relate to a logo than a “real person”. Remember, people do business with people first, brands second.

Ideally try to use a photograph of yourself rather than a logo for your profile picture. Definitely don’t use the dreaded egg or silhouette!

Contacting You

 Just as at a networking event you would pass out a business card with your name and contact information on it, online you need to let people know how to contact you in a similarly easy and recognizable way. A simple way to do this is to provide a link to your website, put contact details in the “info” section of the site or a click button to your LinkedIn page.

Post Contents

Social networking sites are built around interaction. They are not brochures for your firm. As such the site is not an opportunity to send a series of Tweets or flurry of posts on offers which end up getting ignored as “spam”. The correct place for such posts is your companies website. Five minutes of friendly conversation is more valuable than two weeks worth of links to your latest affiliate account. The more real you are, the more valuable your connections will be.

Never make a sales pitch as a means of introduction. Remember those door-to-door vacuum sales people? If you have an auto responder, that’s you online!

Interaction

Ideally you should be interacting with at least 5-7 people a day by visiting their pages and making comments. On your own page, ask questions of your contacts daily and if people respond take the trouble to reply to them. Be comfortable with being a little irreverent; people will like you even more.

Connect yourself to others by tagging people, businesses, and organizations. You will bring them to your page and you to theirs. Just remember not to tag your fans and friends in promotional photos. It will turn them off and cause them to stop following your posts. Interacting with businesses on their pages will bring traffic back to you as well as help that business gain status.

Way in which you can do this may include the following:

  • Offer tips and advice. You can never give away too much for free. Some of the top-selling business books of the past ten years have offered every word for free on a blog.

  • Pay attention to your connections’ interests and connect them to others in your database who have similar interests. To this end it is worth taking a moment to review your connections profiles

  • If you let the world know how your connections have helped you, they might be able to help someone else in the same way.

Summary

Social networking is a bit like being in a big coffee shop with lots of conversations going on. If your page is only a commercial, your revenue and loyalty prospects are likely to suffer as people will ignore you. Remember, you have about three seconds to show them who you are, so think about how to make an instant impact and avoid them scrolling past your content.

Know who you are, and don’t be afraid to be that person. People may remove you, but for every unlike, you will gain five. People buy people, make sure they want to buy you and as a result the services you provide.

Laura Scaife practices within the Regulatory Services Group at Hill Dickinson LLP and writes extensively on regulatory issues presented by social media and the internet. She has been published in a number of journals including Communications Journal and E-Commerce and Policy and also writes for business magazines offering practical advice to companies on how to manage their online presence. You can follow her on Twitter @RegardingLaw.

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