Social Media: a Profitable Way to Develop Your Business Network

    By Alan Smith | Small Business

    The time is coming when all businesses must have a presence on social media if they want to build relationships with potential customers and get leads.

    Social media can be very useful, especially for businesses that are under pressure to get customers or perish, and also for those who want to expand their current business. In this post, I’ll discuss the various means by which you can achieve business success by making use of social media.

    Establish lasting community online

    The initial and obvious thing is to establish your own online community. The community that you build will engage with your business and your services or products. They will help you establish your goodwill, and play a major role in developing your presence in the market. This community will be your ally and partner and an invaluable asset to you, particularly in creating and sustaining your social media strategy.

    But you must ensure that your community remains steady; if it’s inconsistent or disloyal, your community will become a constraint and a handicap to your business.

    To build a terrific community you must have great content. Your community will share the updates on your Facebook page, for example, with friends and acquaintances. And if the content is interesting and informative, it will be a great boost to your business marketing campaign.

    Take part in LinkedIn groups

    In LinkedIn groups, you’ll find the people you are looking for: the specific ones who will be your prospects. LinkedIn groups will enable you to discover groups that are meaningful to your line of business.

    Use the Category, Language and Relationships filters to seek out precise groups. After going through these groups select the ones who will be most relevant to you and also keen to know what you are offering. But don’t think that this platform must be used to make your sales pitch; instead, be cooperative, helpful and concentrate on giving the group members service.

    Answer queries, provide advice, and share intelligence with them. Use the like button to find out who all like your comments/posts and follow them. Follow this up by visiting their profiles and checking out whether they suit your prospect image. Know more about them by following them on social media platforms and when you get the chance, ask them to connect with you. Use tags to categorize your contacts into either of these groups: strategic partners or prospects. The tags will enable you to maintain these evolving connections. If you cannot find a suitable group, you can create one that meets your requirements.

    Twitter’s good for one-on-one networking

    For one-on-one networking on social media, few can beat Twitter. This networking can be made into a great instrument to get leads. Besides, the network will help you with lists to help you get quick access to chats that suit you, like hashtags, time/date/day/name of the chat owner/host.

    In Tweet chats, over a period of time, people start getting to know one another in a personalized manner; they go from being strangers when they first ‘met’ to becoming good friends. Then you will be asked relevant questions which you have to reply to in 140 characters. You must follow this up by letting your participants know that you will accept a follow/direct message and then you should continue your verbal exchanges via other media like the phone/email.

    Interview people

    For networking that’s of a more strategic nature, interview people.

    Write your interviews in such a manner that the person who you’re interviewing is brought into the limelight. To pick the right people to interview, make a list of likely candidates and then conduct short interviews with each of them.

    You can interview them at any convenient place, but the best spots are launch events, industry conferences – or even at airports before departure time. Doing an interview on Google+ Hangout and then uploading it on YouTube is a great idea. Remember: your service or products must not figure in this. Focus on the person being interviewed and then add this material to your content and share it on social media.

    Share event news

    Not everyone you are targeting can attend events like trade shows, business conferences and so on. So make it a point to share with them the high spots of the occasion via tweets.

    Keep your eyes open for new followers who could turn out to be new prospects. Use your official website to reach the same objective. Use a tool like Storify when you pen your blog post. This will help you to get together all the essential points made at the function. People who comment/retweet/follow along your info must be given particular attention. In this way you can bring out people you would have missed under normal circumstances. Then proceed to connect with them on the network that best suits you and at the opportune moment, offer to help them.

    Use social media directly

    You can use the social media directly for your sales, but this must be in the form of special discounts, customer education, competitions, giveaways and anything else that’s similar. Let’s take a look at some of these.

    • Special Rebates: On special days like feasts, birthdays and public holidays, people get more active online for obvious reasons. Therefore it’s the best time to offer them special discounts using the social media on which they will be especially active on these days. When they know that companies they’re familiar with offer these discounts they will even look forward to it and maybe put off some shopping in the days preceding it to take advantage of the discount offer.
    • Customer Education: Ask questions and raise sales! Yes, this can be done on social networks. Ask your visitors questions that are related to your company, brand or product. Give points to the best answers and a gift when a certain number of points have been accumulated by those particular customers. The questions you ask will help to spread information about your company and your business; it will educate your likely customers and also help you to get a following loyal to you. This in turn can lead to increased sales. Many companies are already doing this and have had much success.
    • Hold Competitions: Another way to gain the attention of likely customers and gain publicity is to have competitions. Use the contests to teach newcomers about your company, its services and products. You can use an online questionnaire and keep the competition time-based. The questions will pertain to your company and its services/products while the prizes you give away will also be your products/services. It’s a great way to boost engagement and sales and has proven to be a big success across all businesses.
    • Giveaways: Finally, give things away for free. They can be a company product or a shirt or bag to signify the firm’s recognition of their customers’ loyalty. It also urges others to do what the giveaway winners do. Nobody says ‘no’ to a freebie, so give your business a boost with this idea.

    Summing up

    As you have seen, using social media to give a lift to your business is something that cannot be ignored, especially when these networks are becoming increasingly popular across all ages and demographics. The techniques explained above will help you develop associations with people who want to know what you are offering. These relationships will increase the trust people have in you and they will also appreciate your knowledge. Then they will come to you to buy the things they want, and not go to your competitor.

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