I can almost guarantee, before reading this post, several times today, you checked out what your friends, followers and connections were doing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And if you are anything like me, you may have even taken care of doing that before you got out of bed this morning, maybe even before you said good morning to your significant other. Most definitely, you were stalking, tweeting, snapping, boosting, plus one-ing, discussing and hashtagging before you had your first cup of coffee. Hey, it’s 2015 and we’ve got to get social pretty darn early these days.
You have your favorite social stream, but for the sake of this blog, I want to discuss what you will need to do to take something that could be perceived as your biggest “time suck” and turn it into a big money maker, cash cow and marketing machine for you and your business. Over the past 2 years I have become a student of social media and although I am confident I have plenty more to learn, what I have learned so far has started a flywheel that is building momentum and chugging along quite nicely. The question is, how can you monetize social media and make it work for you?
Stop using social media just as a hobby. Start using it as an integral part of your marketing plan. Sure, you can find out where your ex-boyfriend is on vacation with his new girlfriend and you can definitely see what your neighbors have been eating, drinking and buying off eBay, but why not make some money while you’re at it. Plus it is so easy to measure results using tools right at your finger tips. Plus, next to having happy customers, there is nothing better than a rising bank account to measure if your business plan is working or not.
Regardless of which social media channel you have in your virtual bag of tricks, there remains one common denominator that will turn your keystrokes into bank notes: The List. Without a powerful list, you are pitching products to a stadium of empty seats. There are thousands of advertisers that will add followers, connections and likes to your accounts. Don’t waste your money. Paying for followers is the equivalent of putting a crash test dummy in your passenger seat to drive in the HOV lanes. Sure it looks good, but you could still get a ticket. Although there is nothing illegal about “buying” your list, it will do you absolutely no good.
Here are several tips that you should put to work immediately to bolster your list, bump up your follower base and boost your connections:
- Start posting to Pulse - If you don’t know what Pulse is, go to your homepage on LinkedIn and under the “Interest” tab is a dropdown for PULSE. Click on any of the posts and you will see a post in a number of categories including Social Media, Advertising, Small Business and many others. Write your own posts, keep the content short (500-1500 words is ideal) and write about stuff that you are interested in. Love your job, maybe you are an expert in human resources or accounting, or maybe you just like the idea of dressing for success. No matter what your calling, people want to read about it.
- Add to discussion groups - Again, the “Interest” tab is your friend. Drop down to GROUPS and in the search box type in something you are interested in and join that group. Joining a LinkedIn group is like joining an association. As a matter of fact, there is probably a discussion group for any association you are a part of. Start contributing to the conversations and discussions. After a while, start your own discussions. The key in the discussion groups is to keep your tone aligned with consulting, being an expert and providing solid information. Selling or spamming others in the group is against LinkedIn terms of service and should be avoided.
- Wall posts and your profile - You should post business related items daily on your wall, share content and congratulate people you see are on the move in the industry. Don’t just stalk your former coworkers to see where they started working. Also, it’s key to have a good profile picture, a short work history and all of your contact info right there on your profile. Don’t make people work too hard to find out how to reach you.
- How creative can you be in 140 characters? - Very! Once you get good at maximizing your small real estate, life on Twitter will become wonderful. The goal of Twitter is to lead people (followers) to your content in a creative way. If you don't have a website to lead them to, send them back to the post you just created on LinkedIn. I let pictures do my talking. Nearly 100% of my tweets contain a picture and if you don’t believe me, head over to @djdoug to check out my 18,000 tweets that have gotten me 8,300 followers over the last 8 months alone. Twitter studies show there is a 94% better chance of your tweet being shared (retweeted) if a picture is used.
- Use hashtags to find others with similar interests - Similar to the discussion groups on LinkedIn, hashtags on Twitter will connect you with others that are talking about the things you are interested in. Follow those people, share their content and connect directly with people they are also following. Don’t go “follow” crazy. Twitter has a 2,000 account follow limit. Once you hit that number of accounts you are following, you will need to have 2,000 followers following you before you can move to greener pastures. That’s not a bad thing. Just like in life, balance is important, build a solid list of people you are interested in, spread their love and they will follow you back. It takes patience and time.
- Tweet, retweet and favorite - Consistency is king. Make sure you keep a steady diet of adding to the information feed. The more active you are, the more others will see you. Establish yourself and align yourself with others, tweet at least several times a day and welcome Twitter into your daily routine. Your virtual friends will become your biggest business supporters if you play the social media game properly.
- Establish a business page - If you don’t have a website for your business, use Facebook as your “business page.” The benefit to using Facebook as your business promotional tool is that your “store” is open right next to your home if you also keep a personal Facebook page. It is 2015, get busy, get social. It’s super easy to invite your friends to come on over and many of them will. I would encourage you to also have a website, but if you don’t, Facebook is a great way to promote your business.
- Keep your page professional - If you are the kind of guy that would take your coworkers out for happy hour, vacation with them on a houseboat and do body shots off of the cocktail waitress, then go for it. But I wouldn’t suggest taking pictures of it and posting them to your business page. Potential clients, future employers and pretty much the world might see these posts one day, you may want to pause before posting.
- Just like Twitter, pictures and links play a vital role on Facebook as well. You want your content to be read and shared with others. Your goal is to get page likes while engaging as many people as you are able. If they have an interest in your product or service, you want to also make sure they have a super easy way to reach you as well.
In an upcoming blog I discuss how to turn your growing list into money. But let’s not put the cart before the horse, or the feed before the birdie. In the meantime, get busy building your lists on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and all of your preferred social channels. It’s also a great idea to let your connections know how to reach you on each of your social channels. Although the tone of each is very different, you will see a core group of supporters emerge. They will be your social army, providing encouragement every tweet, post, like, favorite, pin, pic and share at a time.
Doug’s book, Nice Guys Finish First, is quickly climbing the Amazon charts. As of the date of this post it was rated on the Amazon Best Seller ranking at #38 for Business Strategy and Competition. You can purchase his book at Amazon.com . Doug also has a weekly podcast called The Nice Guys Podcast on iTunes.