Dec 6 '10
There comes a point in any training session (of which I do a lot) when you have to stop talking about reasons why you should do it and worries about why you can’t… and just get on and give people some tips on how to get started. There are five key platforms to look at:
1. Your blog and/or website
Before you can start pulling people into you there has to be somewhere for them to go. You need to consider the journey. If they look you up or click on a link, where does it go? What message are you giving out? How are you showcasing your knowhow or products? How are you demonstrating your approach to doing business and customer/client service? Before you do anything about social networking, make sure that the end point (your website and/or blog) is telling the right story. If you are in a knowledge-based industry, consider just using your blog… why bother telling people what you do on a website when you can show them on a blog?
The 2nd largest search engine in the World, YouTube can be an amazingly powerful tool. At its simplest level YouTube is a great big online catalogue of videos. There are videos on pretty much every topic you can imagine and it’s a great way to showcase what you do. You can tag the videos to link them to key words that you might have listed on your website and people can comment on them. You can even embed your YouTube video in your website or Facebook
page. And we’re not talking about smart professional corporate videos here… a handheld flip camera will do the trick just fine. Why not start by filming a short video of customer reviews, or product demos or an introduction to what you do? Pop it on YouTube and then put a link to it on your email signature? Take a look at how other people are using it to get some ideas.
Again, time for another burst of honesty. It took me two years to see the point of Twitter… because I was over-complicating it. It is simply a way of sending out a short message to anyone interested enough in what you have to say that they choose to follow you. You can include a link to something or ‘re-tweet’ (forward on) something that someone you follow has said, that you think will be of interest to your followers. Where Twitter’s real power comes is in thinking strategically about getting those followers. If you click to follow someone, chances are they’ll follow you back… so work through your target list, profile your ideal customer/client and go out and find people like that… go through the followers of key publications whose readers fit this profile and click to follow them. Above all, don’t over-complicate things and have a plan for what you want to say. If you say something useful the people will be interested and follow you… if you talk about breakfast and you’re boring then people will drop off.
In many ways this can seem the least approachable… partly because of its reputation for teenage use and partly because of its vast nature. This online community has wonderful opportunities, if used properly, but does require
sensible planning. Consider setting up a company page for yourself and use it as a central ‘magazine’ for all of your social networking activity. Put your YouTube videos on there, or Flickr photos… link it to your Twitter feeds so that they show up there. Take out some hyper-targeted adverts (so that they only show on the profiles of people that fit a certain set of criteria – like ‘teachers’ within 35 miles of Bristol) and link them through to your company page. Use it to promote special offers and events… in short, the opportunities are endless… which is why the planning is so important. Always start by looking at what other people are doing and learning from them.
I always recommend that businesses start with LinkedIn. It feels the most comfortable and ‘safe’ environment to learn about social networking because it’s really little more than a whole load of networking groups… just online. With LinkedIn it’s really important that you fill in your profile and think hard about how people will find you, what will they search for? Have a look at suitable groups and join a few… and take advantage of the contact upload function and search
tools to identify and connect with targets. You might want to link your activity to an event you’re running (and set up a group for event members)… Once again, link it to your Twitter to keep the messages simple (and time effective).