I’ve been at the humungous business conference, Social Media Marketing World since Sunday. There, I’ve been absorbing ideas like a sponge and I’d like to share a few insights.
More than 4,000 participants have been asking the question: “How do I use social media to attract more business, and what are the social media platforms and strategies that are best for me?”
Well, since my audience and focus has always been on professional service business (mostly B2B), I’ll share my perspective.
And I’ll start with the bad news first.
With close to 2 billion websites, 32 million YouTube channels, and untold gazillions on the various social media platforms, it’s more crowded than ever before – and it’s only going to get worse.
So getting attention and getting noticed, let alone getting a response is, to say the least, challenging.
And if your audience is business owners, for most platforms, my advice is to put very little time and attention into social media. It just doesn’t pay off.
Mind you, it won’t hurt to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s just that you are not likely to get much meaningful traction (a call from a prospective client).
How about posting a ton of articles and other great content such as videos online? Same thing. Very hard to get noticed or get any response these days.
All of these marketing activities are passive. The information just sits there and waits for someone to discover it. Sure, it happens, but not enough.
Well, is there any good news?
Yes, but it might not be what you want to hear. I attended several sessions and talked to a lot of people in the past two days and the consensus is clear:
Your social media marketing needs to be proactive if you’re offering professional services. That is, you need to reach out and make personal connections. And you can definitely use social media to help with this.
LinkedIn is the king of the business social media networks. There are 600 million people on the platform. In fact, you can find just about anyone in business there quickly and easily.
The problem is, 90% (or more according to some LinkedIn experts), are interacting with the platform passively. They ask for connections and don’t even leave a note. They post content and fail to interact with those who engage.
Here’s a simple, but potent tip from Ted Podromou (my friend and LI expert who’s also at the conference): When you ask for a connection, always leave a note and use a little low-key humor:
“Hi John, every time I go on LinkedIn, I notice your profile. Is the universe telling me we should connect? Must be! :–)”
Whenever he tries some version of that, he gets a 60% connection rate. Now there’s much more beyond that, but this is a good place to start!
I’ve recently been trying something new that gets very high engagement. I look through my LI feed (posts from my 1st-level connections), and when I notice someone I know, perhaps a past client, I leave them a personal message:
“Hi Shauna, just noticed your post today on LI. Great ideas! It’s been an age since we’ve talked. I’d love to catch up with you. Can you wedge in a short chat?”
Very high response. And how hard is that?
The other thing I think every B2B professional should be doing is sending an informational update by email. From once a week to once a month, with ideas, how-tos, and stories.
Why, since our mailboxes are inundated with email? A few reasons: First, you have valuable ideas to share. Two, you keep in front of them in a way they are more likely to see (unlike social media posts). Three, when you reach out to them, you won’t be a stranger because they’ve been hearing from you on a regular basis.
So, it’s fine to use online marketing and social media, but not without some proactive outreach. You’ll just spin your wheels if you neglect to do that.
So, if you use social media, keep-in-touch emails, and any other kind of online marketing, think of some way to make it proactive or you’ll simply be wasting your time.
P.S. I do want to mention that although I haven’t gleaned a whole lot of actionable strategies yet form this conference, there’s always something exciting and stimulating about a big conference. And somewhere in the middle of a presentation today, one of the best business ideas I’ve ever had popped into my head. So, not a bad investment of my time, money and energy! Stay posted.