Many small businesses are still not capitalizing on the opportunities available by embracing social media. Social media cannot only help with brand building and customer relationships but also lead generation.
Below is a collection of their thoughts and perspectives:
Less than two years ago, I was effectively ignorant and illiterate about social media. Mitch Joel’s great book Six Pixels of Separation served as a loud wake-up call and practical “how to” guide to get started. Today, I am blown away by the number of significant relationships I have solely due to social media – friends, mentors, colleagues, clients and even my book deal, all came from social media activity.
Specifically, I would suggest small businesses use social media to connect with thought leaders and experts within their industry. For the most part, industry leaders who are active in social media tend to be gracious and generous in lending support to others. A lot of social media behavior is driven by an interesting combination of ego, reciprocity and benevolent desire to add value to the community. Follow thought leaders on twitter. Reply or retweet some of their helpful tweets. Visit these expert’s blogs and add a comment. Before you know it, these leaders will be returning the favor and promoting your value-adding content. I have an out of town client that found me because a very popular sales trainer and best selling author used twitter to point people to a blog post of mine. One of her followers read my post and reached out to me for help. Today, that firm is a significant client of mine and I credit 100% of that revenue to my social media investment.
1. LinkedIn. Do you have a list of five to 10 companies you’d REALLY like to work with? If not, do that exercise right now. Just list three to five and do it in five minutes or less. Now go into LinkedIn and type in the first company name in the search bar. Make sure you click on “companies search” because it’s automatically set on “people search.” Click on the company name and scroll through current and recent employees. Is there anyone listed that is two or three separations from you? Likely there is more than one person. Click on a name and see who you know in common. Then call that person and ask if he/she wouldn’t mind introducing you to the person at your target company. It’s an automatic referral into the company you’re dying to work!
2. Twitter search. Stop what you’re doing and go toTwitter Search. Click on the Advanced Search option (or just click that link) and create a saved search designed to pick up ‘sitting ducks’. For example, if you’re a local mechanic, you may want to set up a search for [brake job], [car inspection] or [oil change]. Set the distance for 25 miles from your place of business and then save the search. Now any time someone in your local area tweets about needing a brake job, a car inspection, or an oil change, you’ll be notified. And then you can reach out to that person. You can also create searches for you competitors and try to steal those conversions away.
3. Twitter Application. Open TweetDeck (if you don’t already use it, download it now – it’s free) and click on the big gray + sign at the top (add column). A box opens and the first in the list is “search.” If it’s not already checked, click on it and, in the white bar, type a competitor’s name, and hit “search.” Now a column pops up and anytime that competitor is mentioned on Twitter, your column is automatically populated.
4. Google Alerts. DO THIS NOW! This is not an option. It is the one thing everyone should have for their business, for their name, for key employees, for competitors, and for the industry.
The way the question is phrased, makes it sound like you want to put posts on every single social media site you can find, yelling “hey I’ve got this stuff, come buy it!” But that’s not what social media is all about.
Social media is people.
If you are starting every Twitter post with a number like, “5 ways you can improve your business” or “7 steps to writing better blog posts” you are going to get some people who are interested in learning those things, but are they learning about you?
I think the question should be phrased, “how should small business use social media to get to know people.” It goes both ways.
Make-believe it’s a laid-back environment, like a pub, on a Friday night. You’re there to meet some people, see what they’re all about, and let him know what you’re like.
Then, one day they might have a need some help, and remember, oh, I met that guy at the pub, on a Friday night, who likes dark beer, and travel, and can also help me put video on the web. I’m going to call him because I think he’s pretty cool guy.
Social media alone won’t generate leads for you; but they can play a critical role. Two critical roles, in fact. One role is to offer a sample of your wares, to let people test-drive whatever it is you do. The second role is to comment on other people’s samples, and in some ways that is even more important.
Of course your content has to be good; but commenting on other people’s content shows that you recognize, respect and care about them. That is a powerful aid to awareness, recognition and lead generation.
In my view trying to use Social Media for lead generation is short-sighted and wrong-headed. There. I’ve said it.
If your only purpose in sharing your thoughts through the internet is to get people to call you, you’ll likely be doomed to disappointment. Those ploys are hopelessly transparent. If, on the other hand, you tell people precisely what you think, and if other people agree with your point of view, they might be inclined to seek you out for further discussion/consultation.