How should a small business leverage social media to sell to other businesses that are almost always much larger concerns? Stop selling to the business. Instead start introducing yourself and engaging with the people who make up that business.
Social media allows you to connect to more people in a more meaningful way. It’s time to start talking about and sharing the steps that helped me build a solid and successful social media B2B(Business to Business) platform.
1. Start a blog. Your blog (personal, business, or better yet both) becomes your social proof. In my case, this blog existed for three or four years before I even thought about Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Your blog does many things:
Provides a home base you own and control (assuming you self-host the site). The community that grows on your blog will be yours, not one of the social networks who can (and do) change the rules at a moments notice.
Search engine traffic – Posts written properly will draw traffic in via Google assuming you have optimized the posts for search engines. The easy way to do this is to use ScribeSEO (affiliate link) which I have written about before. Scribe let’s you worry about writing for humans while it worries about writing for Google.
Shows your willingness to give – In the new giving economy successful people willingly give away most of their knowledge and expertise for free. By doing so you show interested parties who you are, what you are made of, and what your area of expertise is.
Blogging Tip: Just start writing. You can refine your focus and purpose as you go. Try shipping one post a day. It’s not as hard as you think once you get started and you’ll be glad you turned off the TV re-runs for the Summer.
2. LinkedIn. Before you go and set yourself up on Twitter please slow down and swing over to LinkedIn. Take your time and build a darn good profile. Look at those of peers and competitors. Peek at the profiles of people you respect and admire. Model the best of what you find. My guess is building a solid profile on LinkedIn should take you a week or more. Not 100% of your time but a little here and a little there. Here’s some more thoughts on LinkedIn.
Wait to add connections. When you first create your account the process asks to connect to all the people you know by culling your email account – don’t do this. Your profile probably doesn’t even have a picture yet. Just add a few friends and associates you trust who you can ask for feedback about your profile as you build it.
Add a picture pronto. I pretty much won’t connect with anyone who does not have a picture on their profile. Call it a crazy bias but I’m not the only one who has it. Just take the time and figure out how to get a good business appropriate picture of yourself on your profile.
LinkedIn is your resume. I sincerely think the days of the resume are almost over. I’m pretty sure I would not hire or do business with someone who does not have a solid LinkedIn profile. It’s that important so spend the same time and effort as you would on a resume.
LinkedIn Tip: Write five recommendations for others before you start asking for them. Funny thing is you might have three by that time.
3. YouTube. Sign-up, create a profile. Shoot some video. Go look at my account for some idea. Video is coming on strong and the increased power of smartphone / mobile devices will see this medium grow. You really don’t want to miss out on the reach video gives you. Besides if your competitor aren’t doing it yet how cool would it be to be first?
Video Tip: Shoot for fun. Don’t try and be professional, you don’t have the time money or equipment. Be candid and spontaneous. Have fun, I know I already said it but it’s that important as I look back at my video work.
4. Twitter. You probably wondered when I’d mention this little gem. Now is the time. If you did Twitter first, what interesting content would you be pointing the people you meet and engage with at? That of competitors and others? Well, yes actually and more often then your own. You will, however, point them to your content when it’s appropriate and not self-serving. That’s why your content written for #1 above has to answer questions.
Twitter users are like economists. If you ask 10 of us for advice how to use Twitter you will get 12 answers. No, really you will. The best advice I have ever gotten is from Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) It’s talking people, just talking! Do you get that? Twitter is like your phone, you listen, you talk, you listen, you talk. Um Jim….that sounds like a conversation and I thought maybe I’d just throw 100 links a day to my blog posts in the Twitter stream? Sure try that. No, on second thought, don’t.
What Twitter is for me. Twitter is very personal for me and it’s also very business for me. I search twitter for conversations about topics that matter to me. I listen to what others are talking about. I add to the conversation when I can. Sometimes, I even just relax and have fun….and meet the coolest people who have helped me grow as a person and a businessman.
Twitter Tip: It’s your Twitter account. It’s your voice. Be yourself and don’t let others try to shape you. Shape yourself. Ask yourself if you’d say it in front of your Mom, your spouse, your best friend. If you answer no, don’t send that tweet. You won’t always like what I say on Twitter and I won’t always like what you say. Let’s keep that to ourselves.
5. Build a community. A virtual semi-private place where people can come and interact and share about the topics they are passionate about. I’m working on this now over at ColorMetrix as we build a password required color community. The objective is not to keep anyone out but instead to let our customers interact knowing they are talking to others who understand the verified color game well. There is still a time and a place for closed door meetings.
So, in a thousand or so words there is what I have been up to professionally for the last year or so. Sure it’s not all there but I mentioned in the second paragraph that it’s time to start talking about and sharing the story. If you or someone you know needs a speaker on these topics, please send them my way.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/midwestmike