It's no longer social media. It's Social Focus!
Since the days of sites like Myspace and Facebook, we have correctly referred to these places as social media. In many ways they still are social media.
With pages like LinkedIn, Google Plus and Facebook business fan pages, it has become Social Business. And for us to manage it well, you need to be socially focused.
Today we use LinkedIn to find friends, colleagues, potential strategic partners and clients. Many people do not understand how to do this effectively; becoming socially focused will change that.
So what is Social Focus? It is working your page like a business. You need to understand and employ all of the many different ways to distinguish yourself from others, make yourself more visible, have a purpose. Marketing, building and developing connections, becoming a trusted advisor and an expert in your field -- all of these will help make your page properly reflect your professionalism.
One of the biggest mistakes people make occurs when receiving an invite on Linkedin. They don't know for sure who it is, but rarely ask. Before accepting an invitation to connect, it is perfectly acceptable (and smart) to ask "How do I know you? Have we met?" Also, users will often get an invite to connect, accept it, and then never message or reach out to that person again. Being in an engaging conversation is a two-way street. Just posting comments and not responding to other people's posts is not being truly engaging.
When I accept an invite on Linkedin, and they are local, I will always follow up. I will thank them for the invitation and follow up by asking to meet for coffee. I do this so I can better understand where they might fit into my portfolio. Learning more about them gives me the opportunity to find out if they might become a colleague, a strategic partner, a client or someone I feel comfortable referring for their expertise.
If they are out of town, I usually ask why they want to connect. I have over 1250 connections and am not collecting people just to reach 2000. I then set up a phone meeting with those who respond with what seems to be an honest answer, such as: "I saw your profile and I believe you could answer some questions for me."
What about the time you spend on social platforms? For this question, Let's focus on Linkedin. Do you like, comment or share other people's posts? This is one of the best ways to get your name and your business's name in front of people with whom you are currently not connected. Let's use an example of someone with whom you are not currently connected, but you happen to see their post. You read it and like it. You see they have over 2000 connections. After liking, sharing or commenting on their post, they will see your name, their 2000 connections see your name and - even better - they may react to your comments or even want to connect. It is not about one-way communication. Sure your posts are important -- but so are the millions of others on Linkedin.
What about people you know and follow? Commenting, liking and sharing makes you appear fully engaged, professional, trusted, and someone who pays attention to your connections. Sharing is mutually beneficial for you and your connections. They will notice what you did and often will return the favor by liking, sharing and commenting on your posts. This kind of synergy helps both of you become more visible. It also positively affects the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your website.
What about your posts? They should have a purpose and you need to know your audience. Communicate, don't sell. Many social platforms have begun monitoring pages for advertising or selling on their site. If they decide that your content is really selling, they will ask you to remove it -- or remove it themselves. You can, of course, purchase advertising on almost all of these pages. What we believe is most beneficial, though, is establishing your expertise on a given subject. Help your clients out with a good, relevant post on something of interest. You should then share to your fan pages, groups and communities. Generally you will want to stay on-topic, but I like a 70/30 mix. About 70% of the time I want to be the expert or helpful to my connections, and about 30% of the time I will share something that I simply find interesting or fun.
If you are wondering why you are not getting anywhere with your social media effort, it may be because you are not socially focused. After all, honestly, you are on most social media sites to sell your products and services.
Ditch your old social media plan -- and start being Socially Focused!
*Look for our upcoming blog on how to be socially focused!*
Wayne Karlins, President, Reed Social Media Group