It seems like overnight the telecom and IT channels have caught on to the idea that social media is not just a fad that will fade away. This realization has brought on a sense of panic for those who have realized they are late to the game.
If this is you, relax…a little. We are still at the dawn of social’s potential for B2B interactions. However, the longer you wait, the more your competition will strengthen its position and the harder you’ll have to work to get noticed.
In other words, the train is leaving the station, so hop on board…quickly!
Before I get into what you should do, let’s talk about a few things you should NOT do if you’re new to social media:
1. DON’T use social as a megaphone for your company’s services. You’ll quickly turn people off.
2. DON’T talk 100% about yourself or your company. Again, it’s a turn-off.
3. DON’T embark on social campaigns without thinking through and planning out your strategy first. This is a quick way to get frustrated and appear like you’re scrambling (because without a strategy, that’s exactly what you’re doing).
4. DON’T expect social media results to happen overnight. This is relationship building and it takes time.
Okay, so what SHOULD you do? If I were starting my social media participation in 2017, here’s exactly what I would do and the order in which I would do it. While I’m addressing these points mostly to total newbies, there are some good reminders here for more sophisticated users as well.
1. Find and connect with your real-life network online. You already know people. Where are they? Are you connected on LinkedIn? Do you follow them on Twitter? Do you subscribe to their blogs? Start with who you know, find them, and connect. Most of the platforms have ways to easily sync with your contacts, so finding people you already know is pretty simple.
Side tip: The first thing I do when returning from a trade show or event is connect on LinkedIn with the people I just met.
Second side tip: I follow the “Innocent Until Proven Creepy” rule when receiving invitations to connect from people I don’t know. As long as the profile looks legitimate and the person is in a relevant industry to mine, there is no harm in connecting. You can always disconnect later if the person bothers you in any way.
2. Watch and listen. Social media has its own norms and etiquette, so if you’re new to the whole thing, start by reading and observing. Pay attention to which posts get the most attention and which don’t. Get a sense of the language that’s used.
3. Give some love. As you’re watching and listening, give a like, comment, share, or retweet on posts you like. This takes virtually no time and will help to get you on the radar of the original poster. The law of reciprocity is alive and well on social, so you’re more likely to get love if you give it first.
4. Research your target audience. Seek to understand the questions, concerns, preferences, and behaviors of your target audience. What’s keeping them up at night? What do they like and dislike? Where are they hanging out online? By truly understanding what’s driving them from the inside, you’ll be in a better position to share content that will resonate with them.
5. Use 80-90% of your posts to address the pain points, questions, and preferences of your target audience. This is where most people new to social go deadly wrong. They use their platform to talk about themselves instead of their target’s pain. As mentioned above, this is a quick way to turn off your audience, so share company news sparingly.
6. Respond to those who engage with you on social. This seems like a no-brainer, but I see this mistake made all the time. If you post a blog, or meme, or infographic and someone leaves a comment, respond to that comment! Not only will it help trigger the algorithms in the platform that more activity is happening on your post (and should therefore show up to more people), it will also encourage that person and others to further engage with you.
If you’re already doing all of the above, congratulations! You’re way ahead of most people in the industry. With consistency and patience, your network and influence will definitely grow over time.
In my next post, I’ll go into some more advanced techniques for those who are ready to take their social beyond this stage. Stay tuned!