When I started my business in 2002, social media as we know it today didn’t even exist. Now, less than ten years later, it has become an essential marketing tool for businesses of all sizes.
Unfortunately, some businesses don’t understand the difference between social media marketing and traditional advertising.
Traditional advertising is a one-way street. You put up a website, distribute flyers, or pay to advertise somewhere to let people know what you have to offer and how they’ll benefit from buying your product or services.
What makes social media marketing different is the opportunity to network with the people in your target audience. Just like attending professional networking events, social networking is not about making a quick sale, but about making connections and building relationships which may lead to opportunities down the road.
It’s quick and easy to send out promotional messages to your friends, fans, or followers on a regular basis, at little or no cost, but if that’s the only way you’re using social media, you’re missing out on its full power. When you supplement your promotional messages with links to articles that you’ve read or written, comments on current trends and events, and other useful information, you not only position yourself as an expert in your field, you give others a chance to interact with you by commenting or asking questions about what you’ve said.
To be really proactive, don’t wait for others to come to you. Take time to read what the people in your target market are talking about and engage with them by sharing your own comments, tips, advice, or congratulations.
People need to know that you’re good at what you do, but ultimately they want to do business with someone they know, like and trust. Letting them see your interests, your values, and your personality can give them insight into who you are and help build a connection, even if you’ve never met.
Think about it. Are you more likely to do business with someone who pops in to quickly drop off some flyers at a networking event while they’re on their way to somewhere else, or someone who takes the time to get to know you and the other people there?
Actively participating on social media sites is a great way to keep your name in people’s minds in between live networking events, so when they’re ready to do business, you’ll be the first one they think of.