As a small business, it can be difficult to gain authority and figure out how to build a social media following with your target market prospects. Before you go door to door looking for likes, here are five ideas to consider:
1. Follow to be followed
Once you have defined your ideal prospect persona, start looking for those people on social media. Use hashtags on Twitter and LinkedIn, look for boards on Pinterest pertaining to your products or services, and Like, Follow, or favorite your potential client’s activity. It may be difficult not to be too aggressive and resist going for the hard sell right away, however should you get a “Follow Back”, don’t shift into sales high gear. Thank them for the connection, and maybe direct them to one of your blog posts related to their business or interests. Being too aggressive with selling on social media with new followers can be a losing proposition, even if they have already been looking at your products or services.
2. Befriend your prospect’s friends
If you see your prospects are members of certain communities, groups, or they are participating in online events like Google+ Hangouts, or other places you can connect with their peers, suppress your shyness and wade into the groups and share quality content. Follow your prospects clients, competitors, suppliers or parent companies. If you can provide your prospects with news happening in their “circle of influence and trust” before they are aware of it, it can be your ticket to a meaningful dialogue with the prospect. You can use the news as a reason to connect with the prospect and build authority, and drop some hints as to how your company can help them. 3. Invest in your following If you are a startup business, or if you are going through a transition of your business into a new market segment, paying for followers, likes or views of your videos can be a good strategy if done properly. Just like pay per click advertising, getting a certain amount of likes, favorites or follows from a number of people will be more visually appealing on your web pages or network pages and ultimately snowball as you share quality content. It can be discouraging to social media visitors if they see a zero or a low number of likes or follows on your social channels. Give yourself a running start and when you get momentum, you can invest your marketing dollars elsewhere.
4. Share and be shared If you curate content from your peers, partners or respected “thought leaders” in your industry, they will often return the favour and share some of your content with their groups and followers. Although you don’t want to be a “shill” for content from other people and never have original content from your own mind, it is good to mix in viewpoints that reflect the ways you think or may have influenced your expertise as an entrepreneur. Don’t blindly like and share content which might conflict with how you feel, read the content thoroughly, understand what the article is about, and comment in a way that supports your business. If you have helped a client solve a problem like someone is experiencing in a YouTube video, created a product that relates to the article, or if you just really like a song on SoundCloud, share it with others and be seen as someone with expertise in their field. Just liking posts without having an opinion isn’t going to help you much.
5. Be positive, be yourself, be realYou don’t want to overwhelm your followers by burying them in content. Make the best use of your social media time by sharing content that puts a smile on a prospect’s face, doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings (including your competitors) and makes you look good in the process. Being yourself, not who you want people to think you are, is the best policy on social media. If you disguise you and your business or inflate people’s perceptions unrealistically, you can hurt your credibility. Bring your sense of humour (stay classy though) your culture and what you have learned to the table. You will be rewarded for being real even if you admit your mistakes or tell a story of how you made a mistake and then corrected it.
Social media followers are inundated with information, content, and personalities. Stand out from the noise by following these tips, and your small business can use social media to get noticed, gain authority, and increase return on investment.
This post was originally written and posted in ExploreB2B and is reproduced here with permission by the author.