Are you trying to fit social media into your small business life? Its hard when youre running a one-person show, isnt it. You feel like you have to do a little social networking each day, but either you dont get to it or it sucks all your time away.
Wheres the balance? How are YOU, the small, way-to-busy business owner, supposed to network like the gurus?
Finding a Balance: Marketing vs. Social
Social networking for business, or, as the professionals call it, Social Media Marketing, is made up of two parts: social and marketing. How do you find time for both?
The marketing side is tough at first. You have to be consistent, and consistency is hard. You have to connect all the dots, and use your site as the focal point:
- Consistency - Try to make sure all your social accounts have the same name. If this isnt possible, try to keep the names as similar as possible. When you fill out your social profiles, use similar descriptions, and always link back to your site or blog.
- Connecting the dots " Some accounts allow you to connect with others. Empire Avenue allows you to connect to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and feeds. Google Profiles lets you connect to pretty much any account you have. Klout lets you connect to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare.
- Your site as the focal point " If youre networking for business purposes, youre probably thinking the social accounts will bring traffic to your site. The reverse is true as well; your site will bring traffic to your social accounts. Realize that visitors to your site may want to know more about you before buying, signing up or otherwise acting. With this in mind, make your social accounts visible " dont bury them!
Scheduling your marketing
Think of marketing as the part of social networking you dont have to be really involved. This is the part where you share links, videos, news feeds, pictures and so on. Because you dont have to be involved, you can schedule your marketing activities.
*Tip: HootSuite and Tweetdeck both allow scheduling.
Each morning, schedule an hour to find topics, good links, videos, etc, and schedule them. There are three marketing keys with this:
- Include a targeted #hashtag
Example: Yes, this is pretty geek-oriented, but sweet nevertheless " Photo: The Periodic Table of #SEO #Ranking [link]
2. Make sure every link (even if its not yours) is accompanied by a comment.
Example: Yes, this is pretty geek-oriented, but sweet nevertheless " Photo: The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking [link]
3. If it comes from you, make sure it has via @twitteraccount
Example: New Photo: The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking [link] via @twitteraccount
Why are these important? Because theyre consistent, hashtags and @mentions can be monitored, and they help brand you.
If possible, try to stick to a specific theme each day. For example, if youre a doctor, you might cover colds, coughs and flu for a day before moving on to another subject. This could include the best Kleenex, the best cleaning product to reduce bacteria, tips on cleanliness and fighting colds with hot toddies, to name a few.
Do your homework. Build a library of topics filled with goodies. Cover those topics ten ways from Sunday and make sure your brand shows proudly, in some way, on all of it.
The good thing about the marketing aspect of networking is the fact that you can schedule all of this and then just let it run throughout the day. This leaves you tons of time for running your business, dealing with customers/clients and, of course, socializing.
If the social aspect isnt easy, youre putting too much thought into it. The first thing to remember is that actually, let me bullet some points for you
- Making friends takes time; its true in the real world, and its true in the virtual one.
- Dont NOT follow someone just because you think they arent your target market. Chances are if they arent your target market, they know someone who is.
- Dont follow someone just because they follow you. Thats like befriending a drunken panhandler because they talked to you once.
- If you regularly read someones blog and like their content, check out their social accounts. Decide if theyre someone you want to support (because following is a type of support).
- Dont be afraid to remark on a link, tweet or FB post that scrolls past you. Someone has to start the conversation, right? It might as well be you.
- You dont have to respond to someone right away. Most people will realize that youre busy and wont expect an immediate response. Its okay to go a couple of hours, or even a whole day, without responding BUT
- Make sure you DO respond.
- Always thank people for tweeting your links, RTing and #FFs " Its just good manners.
If youre getting discouraged, remember that it takes time. The less time you have to put in, the longer its going to take to create a network " and thats okay. It took me three years to build the fantastic network I have today, and its still growing. Yours will too!
Do you have tips for social networking that has helped you build a stronger network? Well, what are you waiting for? I shared " its your turn!