I am on social media because:
A. It’s a great way to avoid work and to gossip with my friends all day;
B. I have an incredible business opportunity that I must tell everyone about; or
C. I’m looking to build relationships that will help my business in some way.
Now, before you go thinking that was obvious and easy, spend a minute being real about how you use social media. Really.
It’s easy to justify being on Facebook all day because you’re “working.” But how often so you go down a path in your news feed that has nothing at all to do with your online business?
At the other extreme, it’s easy to get so focused on your business and being productive, that you spend all of your time broadcasting your business and no time having conversations with people.
So where is that happy medium in social media? How do you make friends and build your business at the same time? Today I share with you five tips on how to build relationships with social media. They come from my own experience, and from a close study of how some people I respect most operate.
1. Be Present Where Your Market is Present
If you’ve decided to use social media to promote your online business, you’ve probably felt the pressure to “be everywhere.” And maybe even given in to it. The problem with this is it’s impossible to be everywhere.
The good news is, you don’t need to be everywhere. You need to be where your market is.
The mistake many make in trying to be everywhere is that you can’t really be present everywhere. You can go in and post your stuff everywhere, and even post other’s stuff. But you can’t be interacting with people everywhere. There just isn’t enough time in the day.
Action step: If you know where your market is, concentrate on those social media networks. You should have a strong presence on two networks, and maybe a more limited presence on another. Spend your time having conversations and building relationships in those networks.
If you haven’t figured out what social media networks are your relationship builders, start with Twitter. Concentrate on building relationships there, and see where else your Twitter friends hang out. Follow their lead.
2. Be a Person, Not a Business
I know you want to present a professional image. You are using social media to build a business, not get a date. So yes, you want to share about your business. You want to build your reputation as an expert in your market.
But, I hear too many people talk about having separate social media accounts for their personal life and their business life. While it’s obviously appropriate to share some things only with family and friends, don’t completely separate your business and personal life. People want to do business with other people, not with a faceless entity.
Action step: Take a step out of your comfort zone and share something personal with your audience. A picture of your kids or pets, a family story, what you did after work today.
3. Focus on Giving, Reward Receiving
There is no higher honor in social media than having someone share your stuff, support your work, or mention you in some favorable way. Doing this for others is a great way to make friends and build relationships with social media.
And, when other people do this for you, recognizing them and rewarding them for their kindness is a great way to start a business relationship.
Action Step: Focus on some of your social media connections that seem like a good fit, but that you don’t have an established relationship with yet. Re-Tweet their content, share their articles, recommend that others connect with them. When you see people giving you the same kind of love, publicly thank them. Then go share some of their stuff.
4. Be a Helper
Take time to answer questions for people. Go out of your way to provide information that is relevant and helpful. Obviously, you can’t do this all day long. But doing it occasionally yet consistently will get you noticed.
So much of social media is done in 140 characters or less, even if it’s not Twitter. Typing out a paragraph answer to someone’s question, and providing them with valuable information that can solve their problem, is a great way to build relationships with social media. Invite them to follow up by adding, “let me know if that helped you.” Go back and continue the dialoge if they respond.
Action step: Do a keyword search on Twitter and see what questions are being asked in your market. Ask people on your Facebook page what their biggest business-related question is. Join discussions in LinkedIn groups, or visit the “Answers” section of LinkedIn. Just keep your eyes open. People reveal their struggles all over the place. Step in and take a real interest.
5. Invite People to Your “Home”
No matter what type of relationship you’re going to develop with someone, your goal in social media is to get them over to your blog. Where they will then sign up for your newsletter. So that you can then appear in their Inbox twice a week.
In your online business, your blog is your “home.” It’s the center of where everything happens. All your good content is there. Your free offer is there so people can join your newsletter. And your products are there ~ so people can buy from you, promote you, or decide they want to go into business with you.
Generally, your friends don’t just show up at your house. But when you’d like them to come over, you aren’t shy about inviting them. Same goes for your blog home. Don’t pound people over the head, but have your website url out in front with you wherever you go online.
Action step: Develop a social media strategy for drawing people to your blog. Invite them to your blog by way of your social media postings. Entice them by providing quality content, being engaged with them, and having a valuable free gift when they sign up for updates from you.
Check in with yourself for a few minutes to make sure you are actually doing each of these things to build relationships with social media. With practice and consistency, you will see real value added to your business from these relationships. Got other ways you build relationships with social media? Please share in the comments!