I got a text message from a friend and past client yesterday. Or, should say a distress signal. It simply read: “I need help with my social media. Help me!!!”
Now this is a loaded statement that could mean a range of things (that I hear all the time) like:
“Should I be on [insert latest social media platform]? Apparently everyone’s using it.”
“I am busy, and I haven’t posted anything in months.”
“I don’t know what to post. What should I be posting?”
“Followers! We need more followers!”
Or, it could be all of the above. And that’s enough to elicit a cry for help from anyone who, like my friend, is trying to grow a business.
Instead of texting my friend back with a long list of clarifying questions, I called her. Within the first few minutes of talking to her, I realized the real issue wasn’t social media. She had a business problem. Her referral business was drying up, and she needed new clients.
That’s when I explained to her what I am going to break down in this post… social media is not the problem. The real problem is learning how to generate conversations about your business.
Get them talking — that’s the goal
Now I am not saying social media isn’t important. It definitely is. What I am saying is that it is a tool for generating conversations. If you want to successfully grow your business, you must get in front of people and start talking (with them and not just to them). That’s sales and marketing 101.
My friend is good at doing this face-to-face. With ease, she’ll mention her event planning business in casual conversation. That’s how she’s grown her business thus far — through conversation. But her social media presence — with a few catchy posts and a decent following — has been static.
Her challenge is learning how to generate these conversations online. But as she admitted, “I just don’t participate.” And what’s needed to gain a new pool of clients is participation in the evolving conversation and community on social media.
So, how do you start chiming in?
Focus on people and topics, not just platforms
I asked my friend a few questions:
Who are you following in your industry?
What communities are you participating and posting in?
What are you talking about in your post?
She fell silent on the phone. This brings me to my next point. Being present on several different social media platforms (which she is) means nothing if your participation — listening and responding— on those platforms are limited.
Think of it as going to a networking event and smiling at a few people but never saying hello or striking up conversation by asking questions. That would be a waste.You have to contribute to the conversation.
Here’s a few ways to do that:
Be helpful. Make a list of topics that your customers typically ask you about or causes them to complain (Think: What topics often come up in one-on-one customer conversations?). Turn your answers to their questions and complaints into useful posts. Plus, this gives you a steady list of things to talk about, which is helpful in those “I am busy, and I haven’t posted anything in months” and “I don’t know what to post” moments.
Be a connector. Consider the publications you want to be featured in, the partnerships you want to have, and the people you want to reach. Plug into those communities by not only following them but also sharing resources, tips, advice, and even (sincere) compliments.
Be responsive. Remember your social media feed is not a billboard. Ask questions or for feedback in your posts. Let folks get a word in like you would if you were face-to-face. Conversations are an exchange so respond to people’s comments too.
Social media is more than setting up a profile, posting and drumming up followers. It’s about being strategic. In the same way you would a face-to-face meeting, consider who you want to reach, which communities you want to help, and what you want to share and learn in the community.
Nowadays, you can’t afford to have a set-it-and-forget-it approach to social media. It was learning how to connect more often and in more ways with the people you serve and letting them know you’re here to help.
So, how do get conversations started on social media? Let me know (my friend would appreciate the advice).