There’s an ongoing debate which always occurs when discussing the proper and improper uses of social networks for business and marketing purposes. We hear story after story about people who are considered the blight of social media because every post will be a blatant and over-the-top marketing message for their latest product or service.
I probably don’t need to go into more detail as you know exactly the type of person I mean. (Hint: if your twitter stream contains multiple ALL CAPS posts and more than two hashtags on each you may have a problem.) But just because controversy exists around social media marketing and the potential for abuse is high this does not mean you should not engage in social sharing for your business. The key is following some common sense tips to make sure you don’t become the type of person everyone tries to avoid.
Here are 5 quick tips which I believe will help you keep your social profile free from the dreaded stigma of social spammer and yet allow you to continue to share your business opportunities.
1. Mimic Real Life
Consider your social networks to be the same as an in-person meeting. Would you shout into the face of your friends about your ability to SAVE THEIR BUSINESS simply by using THE GREATEST WIDGET EVER!!! #BIZSECRET #ACTNOW #COUPON. I would sincerely hope you would have enough common sense to never do this face to face when speaking with a friend or colleague. When you are sharing information online it can be easy to think you’re merely shouting into the void. You’re not. Consider the recipient. How does that message look to them? Are you helping them? Remember it’s not all about you.
2. Make Friends
The second tip you should consider when posting to social media is as simple as following the Golden Rule. I would expect everyone knows this principle in some form or another. The concept is easy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I touched a bit on this idea in the previous tip but like to focus on it a bit more in this second idea: Make friends. One of the best ways to make friends? Make yourself friendly. Be a listener and not merely a talker when joining in online discussions. You’ll be a better salesperson but more importantly you’ll be a better friend. Again thinking from the perspective of the other person, you listen to your friends most. This is a delicate subject because you should not seeking to build friendships for the sole purpose of selling something. This leads to the third point.
3. Meet Genuinely
You’re starting the process of making friends and building relationships. Don’t ever make a selling or marketing strategy your purpose for building relationships. Grow friendships organically and for the right reasons. Meet people with genuine transparency. Believe it or not people can immediately sense if you’re attempting to make friendships without genuinely sharing an interest. Shared interests are a fantastic way to find true friends. Look for those things which you have in common and begin relationships based on those items. Friends are the best references to have because not only do they care about you and your success but they will help you in spreading your message to their friends as well. This increases the opportunity for your message to be heard. If we think back to the idea of using social networks as we would in real life then we can easily understand why an introduction by a mutual friend makes it much easier for you to meet new people.
4. Maintain Balance
Ok, so this particular point in my opinion is one of the most important ones. I have a personal problem with those friends on my social networks who share nothing besides their products and services. I want to be friends with them for a number of reasons and while I am interested in their business it is not the only reason I am connected to them. When you choose to share your business product or service be sure to practice moderation. Don’t get so caught up in trying to social sell that you fail to social share. The point is to maintain balance in your posts and in your topics. If you’re being genuine this will naturally effect your social networks. Because even though I am sure your business is quite consistently on your mind, I can pretty much guarantee it’s not the only thing you ever say. When all people “hear” is what you post online, be sure it’s balanced.
5. Market Passively
Too often people think they need to be aggressive marketers. This line of thinking is what leads to the type of messages I poked fun at in the first tip above. Aggressive, over-the-top type of social selling becomes a nuisance to followers incredibly quickly. The better option is to market passively. What do I mean by passive marketing? Quite simply put I mean share information about your products and services without being directly marketing or directly selling a particular product. Share your struggles and how you overcame them. Share the benefits of your products, tell the stories of successes which have resulted from your business. Here’s an idea, share information and stories, tips and tricks….without any call to action. It’s daring, it’s different, and it forces you to be more passive. As you do this information sharing you’re marketing passively.
Today we have social media channels and outreaches with tremendous opportunities that previously were never thought possible. We’re learning more about how to use these tools for not just personal but also professional benefits. Be sure that you focus on doing it right. You want to always focus on social sharing and not social selling. Got ideas on other good tips? I’d love to hear them.