A lot of sales people and business owners are struggling with how to add social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter into their prospecting or marketing plan. Social networking is the #1 online activity, used by 1.2 billion people worldwide. Nearly one in five minutes online is spent on social media websites, and 75% of that is on Facebook.
But how does that help you sell anything?
First, you have to have the right attitude to make social networking work for you.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind as you start to look for prospects online:
-It is going to take a time investment. There are no quick-fixes and no magic bullets. Just because some people have become billionaires online, doesn't mean it was easy or should be expected.
-Be a professional. For some reason, people think it is okay to post pictures on Facebook that they wouldn't want their boss or clients seeing. Or worse, "Like" things that have no business on a public profile. Separate your business and personal life online.
-Have a clear target or goal. About a third of the world's population is online, that means so are your clients. It also means they can get lost in the crowd. If you don't know where you are going, you certainly won't get there consistently.
-Frequency and consistency matter as much as content. Online, it is hard to get people's attention and hard to keep it. Your social networking plan should include a calendar of activities and the discipline to execute it. There are a lot of phonies online, and it's hard to know who to trust. Prove your worth by sticking it out, and standing out with your professionalism.
-Getting over your fear of computers, social media & selling takes time & effort. You will get better at using the tools, talking the language, and converting prospects into customers over time. Recognize that now, and commit to practicing by sticking with it for at least a quarter.
-Networking online is essential the same as networking off-line. Don't expect to be best-friends because someone added you as a friend. You are not connected professionally because of the connection on LinkedIn. You are still going to have to take the time to build and maintain the relationship.
Second, to be successful in selling through social media sites, there are some things you are going to have to do.
Here are 10 steps to being social:
1. Sign up and complete your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.
2. Follow the favorites in your industry, join popular groups, and connect with key influencers and referral partners.
3. Send personalized invitations to connect to your network and suggested friends.
4. Request recommendations and favorites politely and return the favor.
5. Update your status at least 3 times per day Â¬ morning, noon, and night. Use the 80-20 rule - 80% content and 20% promotion.
6. Share and comment on other people's posts at least once per day.
7. Send invitations to connect to new people at least one per day. Just make it a personal invitation, like you are shaking hands or being introduced at a Chamber event.
8. Comment or answer questions in groups 3 times per week.
9. Cross-promote your other profiles, email newsletter, and website or blog once per week.
10. Spy on your competition, research potential clients, and help referral partners.
Finally, you have probably been asking yourself, "How exactly, are you going to pull all this off?"
Here are a few tips and tactics for using social media:
-NEVER USE ALL CAPS! (It's considered yelling.)
-Never use social media or email to cancel plans or send urgent messages.
-Avoid shorthand, buzzwords, and other jargon that can confuse people.
-Keep private stuff private and personal stuff with personal friends.
-Respond to every message from a real person, even if it is just "thanks".
-Respond on the social media site you were contacted through, unless asked to call or email.
-Don't send out or respond to invitations for games or other timewasters.
-Be patient when waiting for a response. If someone doesn't add you back, accept it gracefully.
-You are judged by the company you keep, so be careful about who you add to your network.
-The internet is forever. Make posts you can be proud of. Manage your reputation.
-Use the same picture on all four profiles, and same logo on company pages.
-Use your actual name and photo, not the company, as much as possible people network with people, not companies or logos.
-Make sure you include links to your company website and other profiles.
Over time, you will get the hang of the tools and the communication, but the tactics are what will make you more sales. Focus on "NETWORKING!" Yes, I was yelling. No selling, no marketing, no spamming, or spilling useless product knowledge.
Your job is to build relationships and build your business. Grow your contact lists naturally over time, create a hot list of target customers and referral partners and go meet them, in person if you can. Build your credibility and personal network by bringing value and authenticity to the social media sites you are on.