Business Social Media - Getting Started

Original date: 19 Dec 11  

The 1990s movie Big Chill featured Tom Berrenger’s character as a television show actor. During the friends’ reunion weekend, his TV show comes on and Berrenger’s character slides across a pool table toward the camera while holding a gun in one hand. One of the friends quips, “I want a margarita and I want it now!” That’s pretty much what your potential customers are saying to you at this moment: I want (fill in the blank) and I want it now! Are you listening? Can you be found by them? Do you know where they are searching and how they are making their requests?

One key way to plug in, pay attention, learn, share, provide info, address issues, and (rinse and repeat) is to be active with Business Social Media. If you are new, here are a few basic steps and links to SoMe (social media) experts.

  1. If you have a business card, you should have a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a first step for a professional or a business. If you are in a profession or a company that greatly regulates or restricts your online presence, then at a minimum, you should create a LinkedIn account showing your current title and business (like a business card) and your photo. Yes, post that mug shot for greater legitimacy. This will not only give you a presence in that forum that others can search, but it will help you with online searching for business development and networking purposes.
  2. Build a Twitter account. My suggestion is that you build an account on Twitter first, then your blog, others may argue just the opposite. It’s a bit of the Catch-22-chicken-egg thing as to what should be done first, but my position is a) figure out the Twitter space by following key people in your profession and local city, non-profits, news outlets, and information resources related to your field. Some of these folks will follow you back. As you choose them and other new people choose you – look at their lists of follows and followers to find even more helpful people and resources. Share information and participate in conversations.
  3. Start your blog. Carve out a space that you want to occupy, such as a particular specialty within a profession. As you post entries to your blog, go back to Twitter and LinkedIn, FaceBook, etc. and direct people to visit your blog. This is best done as a means of sharing helpful news or advice, versus a repetitive, sales-oriented, “look at me” approach. As you share info via social media links to your blog, your follower base should grow.
  4. Blend the posts on your blog with a call to action on your website. For example, you might Tweet a suggestion to view your blog, where a reader would learn a technique you use with your customers and would then follow a prompt from your blog to visit your website for more information. The linked landing page on your site might deliver that information along with a link to contact you for a consultation, or a registration for an upcoming event you will host.

There are tools that will allow you to blast a single comment, post, or Tweet across all of your social media platforms (one click simultaneously sends your post to LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.). This may be a convenient approach for someone who plans to post several times a day, every day. If you are just getting started with social media, however, you may find that certain comments are more appropriate to one platform than another. I often start by posting on Twitter because its 140-character constraint requires me to write efficiently. Also, I tend to post items directly related to business, but also indirect and unrelated items such as comments on sports, humor, nutrition, and politics. But, anything I post or re-tweet that relates to directly to marketing or business will be copied on my LinkedIn page 99% of the time and on my FaceBook business page 75% of the time. (At this time, I use my FaceBook business page on a limited basis by choice.)

Helpful books for initial learning include The Social Media Marketing Handbook, Twitter Power 2.0, and Social Boom! There are an abundance of helpful resources to follow on Twitter. A mere few of those whom I follow include: @Mashable, @TweetSmarter, @HubSpot, @Junta42, @Shoutlet, @TheSocialCMO, @MarketMeSuite, @GlenGilmore, @CSPenn, @KrishnaDe, @JeffBullas, @AskAaronLee. Once you develop your followers and interact more – you’ll find other great people. Feel free to share them back with me.

The more you learn how to manage and plan to manage your business social media, the more accessible you will become to your clients and prospects.