410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

Make friends and more $ using social media ;) Here's how.

Make friends and more $ using social media ;) Here's how.

May 30, 2009

Here are 4 takeaways:

1. Get started. Simply create a profile on LinkedIn and Facebook with compelling stories that tell people why they should do business with you.

2. Go to Yahoo Groups or Google Groups and start logging into groups that your peers are on that you want to follow or find groups where your hungry fish are swimming so you can see what they're talking about. Don't try to read or respond to every posting. Just a pick a few every now and then.

3. Start a blog. Get in the habit of posting short entries that reflect your brand and what you and your company are about. This is your anchor in your social media space that prospects can come back to anytime and from anywhere.

4. Nurture your relationships. Find bloggers in your space and post comments to their postings. Be sure to add to the conversation and praise them in your own blog if you feel it's appropriate. Talk to them about you may work together letting your followers know about their products or how they can help you promote your products.

I have to come clean. I'm an expert in a lot of marketing mediums but it seems like the social media phenomenon has snuck up on me.

And now I'm realizing that Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are huge marketing and networking opportunities for us and we need to jump on them now or we'll get left in the dust.

But aside from my LinkedIn page that I rarely update, I'm not a social media guru. So here's what I've done. I've made a significant investment working with some of the best in the business to help me figure it out and just recently I spent a good deal of time talking with an expert in social media, Jason Alba. He's the author of I'm on LinkedIn Now What? and he's this month's guest on our monthly teleseminar. You have to check it out!

I'm a sucker for good titles and his definitely grabbed my attention. He's also someone who has built his own business selling books, DVDs and a subscription information service entirely from social media. More importantly, he had a ton of great advice to share '

First things first: Go where your prospects are

The first thing to do is to figure out where your hungry fish are swimming, Alba says. Are they on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Groups or Google Groups? Of course you can always survey your customers and find out where they are. Or look for groups on those sites. If you're looking for your prospects specifically on Twitter, try the Yellow Pages of Twitter, Twello.com You want to go where your market is already talking.

Does social media work? Dell attributes $1 million in sales recently to using Twitter to advertise a special promotion to prospects it says would have never bought a Dell computer otherwise.

Whenever masseuses have an opening in their schedule, Mary Jenn of True Massage and Wellness in San Francisco 'tweets' customers on Twitter and the spa is often fully booked within several hours of sending a message, according to an April 13 article in The New York Times. Woot.com found many of its users are on Twitter too, Alba adds. Woot is the QVC of online media. It offers just one new product a day, such as the Pure Digital Mino 60 Minute Camcorder or the Memorial Day Special: America Stories of War 36 DVD Collection, until 11:59 PM CST or until they're sold out. They have more than 660,000 followers all waiting to find out what the product of the day will be!

'Woot is no longer saying, 'If you want to know what the special is, come to my web site.' They're saying, 'Oh, you're on Twitter? Let me come to you. You're on Facebook? Let me come to you. They're now saying, 'I want to be where my audience is. I want to be in an environment where they're comfortable participating,'' Alba says.

Why? Alba had 3 very good reasons:

1. Grow your network. No matter what channel you use, the purpose is the same: build a network of people who are interested in you and your products and services.

2. Nurture relationships. People try to impress Alba all the time by telling him they have 1,500 followers or 5,000 people in their network to which he responds: 'Do they know who you are? Will they take your call? Will they recommend business to you? If the answers are no, you've done a great job growing your network, but you've done a poor job of nurturing individual relationships. And I believe these tools were made to help us nurture individual relationships.' More about how to do that in a moment '

3. Brand yourself and your company. You want to use social media to brand you and your business as the experts in your niche. It's often said that a hungry fish needs to see your name or your company name 7 times before they'll do business with you. Same is true in social media. But in social media it's more important than ever to offer advice and not try to sell. For example, if you're a landscaper on a forum such as Yahoo Groups you can offer advice on how to care for your lawn or how to get rid of grubs. After a while, you'll get branded as the group expert.

If you're just getting started, create a profile on LinkedIn. Anyone who is out of high school, whether they're in a blue collar job or a white collar job, should be on LinkedIn, Alba says.

A 2-minute strategy for LinkedIn

' Flesh out your profile so it's filled with compelling information about who you are and why someone should do business with you. WARNING: Your profile shouldn't read like a resume. Tell stories about what problems or challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Tell several short stories so readers can see what you can do for them.
' If someone invites you to accept an invitation, go ahead and accept it to grow your network.
' If you have more time try this: Post questions to your network. No one is going to remember you from the dozens or hundreds of other invitations they get to connect. So post questions several times a month. Even if no one responds, you'll be reminding them about you and your brand.

LinkedIn is widely considered a networking tool among professionals. Facebook is different. It's also used for networking, but it's considered more fun and socializing (which is nice if you've got the time!). But if that's where your prospects are, you need to be there too.

A 4-minute Facebook strategy

' Set up your profile like we described above and be sure it's 'clean,' meaning there isn't anything in there that distracts from your branding.
' Add pages and groups to your Facebook page in which you can communicate with other people.
' Add an application that's fun or silly and you'll have a much better chance of going viral. An author who writes about professional networking, for example, could create a software application on Facebook in which a user introduces two people to each other and tells them why they should do business together. Try Elance.com or Rentacoder.com for software coders who could develop Facebook applications for you.
' To learn more about your audience, click on the button for advertisers. Go through the process as if you plan to place an ad (your credit card isn't charged until you actually place an ad) so you can research their demographics and see if the people you're looking for are on Facebook.

Here's where you really need to be active!

Here's something I found very interesting. I've never heard this before. Here are Alba's words exactly: 'If I had 40 hours a week to spend on marketing, I'd spend 39 of them on Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Groups are that valuable.'

Despite all the talk about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, Alba recommends spending most of your time on Yahoo Groups or Google Groups responding to particular posts in the forums where your fish are swimming. No one has 40 hours a week to spend on social media, so just pick a few posts to respond to and keep them very short. Again, the idea is to establish yourself as an expert in your niche so others know they can trust you. There's no better way to build a relationship with your hungry fish than to give them solutions to their problems.

Don't kick your blog to the curb just yet!

It's the same reason he describes blogging as the 'anchor' in your social media space. It positions you as an expert in your space. You can refer people to your blog in Twitter or on LinkedIn and Facebook or even in your postings on Yahoo Groups. It's still the best way for people to find out more about you anytime they want without ever having to talk with you. But when they are ready to talk with you, Alba says, they already feel like they have a relationship with you. (Plus, your blog content will do wonders for your SEO ranking since the search engines love content rich sites in a specific niche.)

Wordpress.com offers an excellent blogging tool. Even if you're not a writer, don't worry. No one wants to read long postings so keep you posts short and to the point. To promote your blog, use other bloggers. Go to other blogs in your market and post comments to their blog. Be sure you add to the conversation and don't try to 'hi-jack' the blog by sending people to your blog. Then nurture the relationship with the blogger. Praise them in your own blog.

When Alba launched the first edition of his book, he had 140 bloggers that he had developed a relationship with and offered each one of them a very copy of his book and told them that if they would like to write about it in their blog, that would be great but they didn't have to. Of the 140, 40 of them blogged about the book. 'If I would have paid a marketing or a PR firm $10,000, I would have been absolutely thrilled for them to tell me that 40 blogged about my to their group.' By the time, his second edition came out, 100 people blogged about the book. Imagine what he would have been willing to pay for that kind of response!