Some professionals are still reluctant or skeptical about the use of social media as part of their marketing strategies. Overuse and misuse of the various tools can be problematic, but the benefits of effective use of social media far exceed any real or perceived downside risks. Make 2018 the year to initiate or expand your social media presence. Two applications should be of business interest. And not Facebook!
Let’s start with LinkedIn. Yes, it was initially a wildly successful resume and job-seeking site. The application rapidly evolved into a significant sales, brand building, and networking tool. Its dominance is driven by great content happily provided by a focused participant base and influential opinion leaders.
The changes and algorithms have been so successful that Microsoft was inspired to buy the site in 2016 for a mere $26 billion. Microsoft’s purchase was in part reflective of the influential and highly read user content. Frequent technical updates make LinkedIn indispensable to your daily or weekly routine. LinkedIn’s usage can be entirely free, although there are options and incentives to pay for some “premium” services, particularly for sales tools and resume posting focuses. But as an essentially free marketing application that allows you to reach potentially viral numbers of strong targeted prospects with your desired information, it is an irresistible tool.
According to Entrepreneur.com, data at this time indicate there are 500 million LinkedIn members, providing 100,000 articles a week. The average CEO member has 930 connections, and 44 percent of the members earn more than $75,000 a year. Your posts on the site basically share your interests and expertise and can serve to supplement your other networking approaches.
Because you can follow information on companies, industries and individuals, LinkedIn is also a research tool. I always recommend LinkedIn as part of clients’ marketing plans — it is easy to use and clients learn to appreciate its versatility quickly. The application lets you choose who you want to connect with, followed by relevant individuals asking to connect with you. Should a connection pester you with too many messages (posts), you can easily delete the offender.
You can create your own original posts or share items that you think are valuable to your group. Sharing posts is great when you don’t have the time to write your own posts and will enhance your connections’ awareness of your interests and knowledge of their areas of business concern.
To tweet or not to tweet?
The second social media tool for business development consideration is Twitter. This application has had some problematic history and strange uses but can be a valuable research practice tool.
If you want to keep up with a particular industry or media news, there is no faster way than “following” leaders on Twitter. No need to send out any of your own 240-character tweet messages. Journalists and businesses post Twitter content frequently, often including the use of videos and photos.
As a follower, you’ll be among the first to know information that may be valuable to you or your clients and customers. That information can be shared seamlessly with your LinkedIn connections — the two systems easily connect — or you can create client email alerts or calls to clients about relevant news ahead of your competitors. As a self-described news junkie, I follow leading publications and AP stories. I often find updates and information early on that is valuable to area businesses. Sharing such relevant information to your growing audience of LinkedIn connections is a low-cost but superior networking tool.
Note: Advertising on social media, as distinguished from the business development networking use of social media described above, is an entirely different marketing topic for future column discussion.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at [email protected].