By Dr. Cheryl Cottle
Although I have years of experience using online forums for teaching and learning, I have been using social media a little over two years, and during that time I have learnt a lot. One thing that I particularly learnt is that social media is not only for the “college kid” as so many of my friends would say when I asked if they were using social media for their business. A client of mine, who was seeking business development when asked if she was using any social media to market her product, says “No, I just can’t see how I can ask my friends to buy my product. I am on Facebook and LinkenIn, but I am just not able to connect with my friends, so I was thinking of disconnecting from them.” It was obvious that she does not understand the social and business effect of social media ― that while it is a space to meet and connect with your friends and family, it is also an environment to network, connect with like-minded people and build your business and personal portfolio to further the advancement of your career or business sales and profitability.
These are some strategies that I have used and tested for their effectiveness over the past two years, and which I give as advice to my clients.
Know your Network: Be cognizant of what is happening in your network. Read what others are saying. Identify the people who are a part of your network and get to know their needs. Like my client above, she might call it unethical to listen to what others are saying, but it is only by reading the “statuses” of others or the “comments” that they make, will you be able to know your “friends” better and therefore be better prepared to meet their needs and your goals.
Identify Your Niche Market: Like any business plan one important aspect to take your business from the drawing board to reality is to conduct a market research ― you must identify your niche market. Are your “friends” your niche market? If they are not, begin to thin out your list. Don’t collect friends just for the numbers.
Active Participation: Active participation and relevant content are two key components in establishing your self on social media. The information that you provide must be in keeping with what your audience appreciates. Ask any one who has been using social media for a while, they will say content and participation is the key to getting others to know you and your brand. It is also important to stay consistent with the information that you provide to build an authentic online reputation.
Establish Authenticity: This is a real issue ― although the human-social interaction taking place is viral and you can easily hide behind your computer screen and keyboard, people are able to pick up on who you are and what you represent. It is important that the information that you present is in keeping with your audience’s needs. And it is also important to think about the way in which you deliver it ― don’t make it all business. Be sensitive to their needs also. Establish a friendly tone. Make it easy for your audience to feel comfortable to communicate with you. By establishing authenticity what results is trustworthiness ― the people with whom you have built a network with, would begin to respect and value what you are saying.
Be Socially Responsive: It is important to be socially responsive. It is very important to acknowledge others. When an individual makes a comment to something that you posted, make sure that you respond to them in a timely manner. Remember at all times be courteous. It is important to reciprocate by responding also to the information that they share. It is also great to connect with people on their birthdays and anniversaries. People love to receive a greeting on their special day. Some people also share when they have a loved one in the hospital or when he or she dies. Some also share information about their children, while some share about their pets. Be alert to the people’s needs around you.
I hope that these tips will enable you to make better use of social media to promote your business or your career.
Dr. Cheryl Cottle is an Educator, Instructional Technologist and System Analyst. She is the founder and Chief Consultant of Cottle's Professional Consulting that specializes in the areas of education, organizational development, professional development and small business development. Dr. Cottle also manages CPC Women in Business; an online forum for women entrepreneurs globally.
Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Cheryl Cottle ● Cottle’s Professional Consulting.