This is a guest blog post written by Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady. As host of #SmallBizChat, Melinda also publishes the resource blog, www.succeedasyourownboss.com and is the author of the national bestseller, Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.
Social media has taken over the internet over the past few years. While it has given people a way to stay connected to friends and family members, it has also given small business owners the opportunity to network strategically and target their specific niche. In order to make the most of your social media marketing activities, it is crucial to make note of the three C’s of social media: content, community, and commerce.
The first C to implement in your social media marketing efforts is content. The currency in social media is value, and that value is created by producing and sharing valuable content. There are lots of ways to create content: You can write blog posts or ebooks, produce audio interviews or podcasts, or offer webinars or short videos, to name a few.
There is no point in using social media to drive traffic to your company’s website if you have nothing new to offer when they get there. Producing fresh content on a regular basis will keep people coming back for more.
Blogging can be a great way to maintain a regular flow of fresh content. If you’re just starting out, here are some useful tips when it comes to launching a blog.
Set up an editorial calendar for your blog to help manage your schedule.
Get into the habit of writing a few posts per week at least three months before your blog goes live. This will result in an archive of blog content you can use to start off with a bang.
Launch your blog with at least 10 articles already posted rather than one lonely post. This will give your readers a taste of your blog’s flavor and what it’s all about.
The next C of social media is community. Social media only thrives because of the people involved. One major benefit of participating in social media is the opportunity to position yourself as key influencer, and a great way to do that is by engaging your audience and building a community.
Put aside the marketing mindset, and be real with people. Your followers and fans want to know and engage with who is behind the content you share in social media. You can’t afford to be one of those people on Twitter or Facebook who is constantly blasting out links to your blog without offering any human interaction. It’s important to instead create a two-way dialogue with your followers and fans and foster social experiences.
For example, I use Twitter to convene small business owners weekly. I host a tweetchat each Wednesday from 8 to 9 PM ET called #Smallbizchat, during which I provide a guest expert and my audience comes to learn and interact with each other. It works because I’m offering valuable content as well as discussion and engagement.
If you want to succeed in social media, you have to get out there and build a network. The more social and interactive you are, the better your chances at building a powerful social media brand will be. Social media is a great way to build relationships on and offline. The biggest form of flattery online is when others share your content. Therefore, I use a 4:1 ratio of sharing others’ content over my own.
Some other ideas for building community with others include:
Posting on forums, commenting on blogs, or connecting with new prospects across your social media footprint.
Connecting with contacts you have on LinkedIn on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, too.
Guest blogging for other blogs or offering opportunities for others to guest blog for you.
The world is yours to interact with and build community.
The final C of the puzzle is commerce, which is a bit trickier than you may think. In a nutshell, people do business with people they like, know, and trust. In person, it takes three interactions before you can make a strong enough impact that will allow you to cultivate a sale. On the internet, it takes seven interactions to build a relationship that will result in commerce.
Obviously, the ultimate goal of social media marketing is to generate web traffic, qualified leads, and sales. But what makes social media so appealing is the fact that it is laid back and “social.”
Be careful about not being too promotional; no one wants to be sold to. In order to succeed as your own boss, first you need to warm up the prospect by attracting them with high quality content. Then you need to engage them through direct interaction.
Ask and answer questions. As soon as you’ve gained their trust and respect, you can approach them about business, but you should only talk about business in terms of the solutions you provide and the results clients have had from working with your business.
Do you have any other tips on social media marketing?