Small business owners often wear multiple hats. Your business card may bear the title President or CEO, but in reality, you take on the role of marketing manager, sales associate, customer service, and accountant. Many of you probably focus on increasing brand awareness, generating new leads, and generating more sales. Between calls, meetings and day-to-day operations, other stuff like networking often fall by the wayside.
You probably already know that social media can help you increase brand awareness and generate leads. But did you know that you can use social media to build up your professional contacts and grow your network?
Networking provides several benefits to your business. It will help you build a community of people who trust and believe in your business. Also, it provides you with an opportunity to learn and see things from a different perspective. Ultimately, it can help you rise above the noise of competitors. That said, you should use every opportunity you have to meet and connect with people. The more people you meet, the more people will know about you and your business.
Surround yourself with people who share the same drive and ambition as you. Afterall, it is great to have a network of friends and associates who can help you achieve your goals.
By following these tips, you can leverage social media to grow your business network and massively grow your brand.
Understand your audience
Given that billions of people are on social media, this would be a great place to start, especially if you’re looking to grow your network. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should connect with everyone.
The first and most important step is to identify who your target audience is. To meet your prospects where they are at, you need to understand what your audience look like, how they think, and what they do. Think about who you’re trying to reach. Are they mothers, students, entrepreneurs or professionals?
Start with your own devoted circle
Your business won’t have much chance of growing and succeeding without a loyal customer following or solid customer base.
As a startup, we bet only a handful of people know about your business. At this stage, getting the word out about your business and growing your network may seem like a challenge. You can seek help from the people closest to you – your family and friends. They know you personally. We bet many of them will be willing to share information about your business, even without much compensation. Some may even become brand ambassadors.
Nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to increase your business’ exposure. Since you don’t have a lot of clients and customers to give you a review, you can ask your family and friends to promote your business for you. But before you do, you need to tell them what exactly it is that you do. Also, give them something to talk about so they’ll do a better job of promoting your business.
Your family and friends have their own set of online friends. If you can get them to share your blog posts or talk to their friends nonchalantly about your business, that would be really helpful.
Choose channels wisely
Most businesses are scrambling to market their business on different social media channels. However, engaging your audience across multiple platforms do not always lead to your desired results. If you want to grow your network and increase brand awareness, you need to narrow down your choice to a select few channels. Be strategic where you spend your resources on.
Time is the primary resource you spare since most social media platforms can be used free of charge. As the old adage goes, “time is gold”. That said, we highly recommend that you focus your marketing and networking efforts on social media platforms that work for your specific type of customer, your specific type of business, and meet the needs of your business. Quit wasting your time and effort promoting your business across multiple channels. Go for the ones that will get you the right kind of attention, and everything else will follow.
Provide value to your audience
If you want to expand your social media reach, then you need to provide valuable content to your audience. Write blog posts that provide some helpful tips to your fans and followers. Share articles your audience find interesting.
Test to see what types of content gets the most engagement. Considering that you already know what topics your audience find valuable, it will be easier for you to create contents that are meaningful to them. Infographics, video content, and quote images get a lot of traction. Also, make sure that you post consistently.
Consistent, high quality content is one of the many factors that contribute to the growth and success of your business. If you want to make the most impact out of your content, we recommend that you share them on social media channels where you audience is. Not only will increase engagement rate, it will also improve your reach.
Connect with people in your niche on LinkedIn
LinkedIn may be the boring brother of Twitter and Facebook, but if you are looking to grow your network, this is the place to be.
LinkedIn is about making connections – from colleagues to business prospects, clients, potential hires, and business partners. With more than half a billion users, it is the clear leader when it comes to attracting quality connections.
In order to grow your LinkedIn network, you first need to build your first-degree connections. The more first-degree connections you have, the more second and third-degree connections you’ll gain. Remember, you won’t show up in searches if you’re not connected with an individual at these levels.
Groups also provide a great opportunity for networking. Find small and big groups to join in each month, and make sure that you engage with the members of the group. Also, make sure that you optimize your profile the right way. This will help you build up connections consistently.
Engage your audience on social media
Most people think of social media as a numbers game. The more fans and followers they have, the more successful they are at marketing their business. But that’s not necessarily true. There is no point in having 100,000 followers on Facebook if only a hundred of them likes, comments or shares your post.
The effectiveness of your social media campaign can be measured through your engagement rate. Having lots of fans and followers but low engagement rate won’t help your cause.
Just because you have 100,000 followers, it doesn’t mean that all of them see your posts. With the recent Facebook algorithm changes, there has been a decline on organic reach. In fact, your content will only be introduced to a larger pool of audience if it is highly engaging. Otherwise, it gets lost in the sea of content.
In order to bolster your organic reach, you need to start talking to your audience. The beauty of social media is that conversations are always going on. Participate in forums and conversations. Or better yet, get people talking by asking questions, creating a poll or sharing buzz-worthy articles that drive a ton of shares and discussion. Seek relationships, not just followers. Pay attention to your audience and they will pay attention to you.