How to use social media to make more networking sales

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How to use social media to make more networking sales

Yesterday I wrote about networking events, and how to make more sales from them. If you missed that Email, I’ve archived it on my website right here – http://stefanthomas.biz/networking-events-and-how-to-use-them-to-make-sales

It was in July 2008 that I properly got into social media. That’s when I signed up for my Twitter account and learnt to love this incredible new use for the internet.

Sure, before that we had had MSN Messenger, IRC, ICQ, Email and all of the other ways the Internet allowed us to keep in touch, but this was something different, and something special.

There is no doubt that social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and, for those of us in business, it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with our prospects. The ability for us to keep in touch with our audience at scale, and at a fraction of the cost that was the case previously, is the big news of the early 21st century.

It was on Twitter that I was first introduced to Chris Marr about five years ago now. If you want to spend the day working with Chris and I on the 2nd Feb, you still have a chance to do so, and to get £100 off the ticket price – http://thenetworkingretreat.co.uk/moresales

Since I learnt how to use social myself I can credit hundreds of sales either directly or indirectly to various social platforms. And I’ve helped many other business owners to do the same. But still, in very late 2017, still so many business owners are getting it wrong, and not making the sales they know they could be.

The problem is that so many of us are still treating social media like we used to treat other marketing and advertising platforms. Almost as if the word “media” has been stuck in there just to confuse us.

I was an estate agent for twenty years and every week in that twenty year career we advertised in The Oxford Times Property Section. We would spend time crafting our ad every week, choosing carefully which properties we featured that week, and what our editorial needed to say. And, for our £1000 per week spend, we got huge value from this.

When the internet came along, we treated that broadly the same. In the late twentieth century we used our website just the same as we did our newspaper ad, to advertise the properties we had for sale and our various services for house sellers.

But here’s the thing, and here’s where I think people are getting it wrong. If you opened up the property section of the Oxford Times, or if you connected to the internet to visit out website (unplug the ‘phone, plug in the modem, connect to the Internet, manually type in our website address, this was the 90s!) you were doing so because you had at least half an interest in buying or selling a house.

When people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, they’re not going there to buy from you, just as people don’t go to networking events to buy from you. They’re going there to keep in touch with friends, or news stories, or to mess about with their profile. If the first thing they get from us when they log in is an ad, we’re going to bore them and potentially lose them as a connection.

Social media is less about media and more about social. Using social media to make sales for your business takes a bit of effort, and that’s where the real opportunity is, because most people won’t bother.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using the tools available to save time on social media. I personally use SmarterQueue (you can get a 30 day free trial right here, and it’s cheaper and, imho better, than a lot of the other tools – https://smarterqueue.com/?ref=2wq)

But showing up, personally, is where the real action is. In real life conversations, unless you’re a complete tool, you’ll spend time being interested in the other person, instead of just broadcasting about yourself. And that’s exactly what we need to do on social. Just scheduling some posts, or paying someone else to do it, just ticks the box, gives you the impression you’re “on” social media, without really achieving anything.

If all you’re doing on social media is posting, you’re doing it wrong. So much of my time is spent reacting to other people’s stuff. Being interested instead of trying to be interested. If you want people to like, comment on and share your stuff, then a brilliant place to start is by liking, commenting on, and sharing their stuff.

It is still the case that too many of us expect other people to put in the effort to read our stuff, without us wanting to put in the effort to read theirs. And that sucks no matter how you look at it.

The more time I spend engaging with other people online, with no real agenda, the more views I get, the more likes I get, the more retweets and shares I get and the more sales I get.

I even get to see when people are ready to buy from me, something which the newspaper never gave us.

Just as with networking, there is no one size fits all approach on social, and you must treat each platform separately.

The four platforms I spend most time on are:

Facebook – well it is the daddy of social media these days. I maintain my personal profile, my business page and my Facebook group every single day. Don’t forget, ever, that for most people, their time on Facebook is to keep in touch with their children or grandchildren, to keep their networking relationships alive, to learn stuff from other people. They didn’t go there to buy from you, but if you spend enough time engaging on their terms, they won’t mind if you advertise every so often and if you give them enough value, they might even check your ad out and buy from you.

Twitter – Twitter changed my world. When I first registered there in 2008 I had no idea the opportunities it would lead to (I’m here if we’re not already connected – https://twitter.com/noredbraces). The platform has matured for sure, and changed a lot, but reports of its death are greatly exaggerated (apologies to Mark Twain). Twitter has become THE place for breaking news, and for sensible commentary on that news. Journalists, major celebrities and many others hang out Twitter. So why’s that relevant to you? Because it gives you the chance to engage, converse and bring value to these people along the way. By engaging with journalists on Twitter, I got mentioned in articles on networking in both The Guardian and The Telegraph. My use of that platform has changed as the platform has, but the opportunities Twitter affords are still massive.

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/noredbraces/ – its where all the cool kids are. A platform based on images and hashtags, Insta gives an opportunity for any business to show that it is human. Instagram is almost two platforms in one, the Twitter style timeline where can can view and comment on other people’s post, as well as share our own, plus Instagram Stories – probably the biggest engagement opportunity for any of us since Twitter launched. If you’re ignoring Instagram, or don’t believe it’s “right” for your business, you’re missing huge opportunities.

LinkedIn – I spoke to a major social media influencer just before Christmas and her opinion was that LinkedIn is going to be huge news in 2018. In my opinion, it already is! Slower moving and more serious than Facebook, LinkedIn is where I connect with corporate clients and decision makers. I tell my story, and advertise my wares on LinkedIn just as I do on Facebook but in a subtler way. Ignore LinkedIn at your peril. Sure it takes a while to get your head around it, but with native video recently added to LinkedIn the shop window opportunity there is just massive. If we’re not connected already – let’s do so – https://www.linkedin.com/in/noredbraces/

Video – Yeah, I know that video isn’t a platform in its own right but every one of the platforms I mention above are huge video sharing platforms – so what are you doing to capitalise on that? As with everything else, each platform requires a subtly different approach, not least because Twitter and Instagram limit the time of the videos you can share. Every one of us these days carries around a better video camera better than the one I bought to record my first son’s baptism in 1996, so making the video isn’t the issue. But making video which people notice, brings value to them and encourages them to buy from us is where the magic happens. And I haven’t even mentioned YouTube yet.

Your opportunity to keep in touch with people at scale, and to notice when people are ready to buy and when it’s time to go 121 is huge. Make sure you take advantage of it.

And what happens when you engage in the right way with people using social media? They check you out, which is why you need to up your content marketing game. I’ll write to you tomorrow about that, and if you want to spend a day working with the founder of The Content Marketing Academy and massively improve your sales from content – you still have time (just) to click here and save £100 – http://thenetworkingretreat.co.uk/moresales

2018 is going to be massive for those of us who put the effort in. I can’t wait to share your journey into the next year and beyond.

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