Ever heard of six degrees of separation? Or six degrees of Kevin Bacon (more fun to play)? It’s the theory – popularized in the ’90s by the play and movie by its name – which states that any two people in the world can be connected via six total personal connections. That is to say, if you want to connect Person #1 in Indianapolis with Person #6 in Timbuktu, inevitably there will be intermediary Persons #2-5 who would connect to each other in sequence, in one way or another (common friends, schools, backgrounds, summer camps, workplaces or any other point of contact.)
Enter social media: Internet networks provide you an average of 4-5 degrees of separation at your fingertips.
How Social Media Works
Social media is the quickest, easiest way to engage the multitudes online, since your message can be spread by every person connected to you. Each of your connections can elect to “like”, “share”, or “retweet” your original message (or picture or link) with their own network of connections. Once you share something, and others engage with you about it (they “like”, “share” or “retweet” it) you not only reach connections on your list, you will likely reach connections on other people’s lists. And if your content (what you posted) is really popular, it will keep getting liked, shared, tweeted and promoted – commonly known as “going viral” because the post spreads without much effort (or investment) at all on your part.
Setting Up An Account
The big players in this world (called channels, or platforms) are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest. Even though social media is often used for personal connections and staying in touch with friends and family, we will focus here on maintaining a professional social media presence.
You can determine the channels on which you should be active based upon your product or service, as well as your target audience (where are your customers already hanging out?) For our purposes today, we’ll assume that your potential clients are active on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Start simply by just opening Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for your business. Some businesses actually open a Facebook account before they even set up a website, as it’s easy and free and they can start establishing a fan base on their company page. LinkedIn’s very nature is professional – its raison d’etre is business networking.
When you create an account, you provide an email address (where you will receive all notifications surrounding this particular platform) and then you are prompted to provide access to your address book. Once you agree, voila! The social media network now has access to your nervous system, checking every email address in your address book for a possible existing account. If an account exists, the network then suggests you ask this person to be your “friend” or “connection”. From this point, the nexus of the friending/connecting web has begun. In your account, you’ll see a “People You May Know” list which shows you mutual connections of yours and your connections’. Within days, you could amass a few hundred connections, if not more.
Once you have an account and some connections, you can start posting relevant updates for your connections to view and hopefully inspire, inform, and prompt them to engage. Post your website’s articles, blogs, or other tidbits of interest to your audience on both Facebook and LinkedIn.
Here are some guidelines for writing social media posts.
1. Wording. Each post involves crafting a succinct, engaging few lines, often using keyword phrases. Check out your competitors’ posts to see how you might entice readers by phrasing similar ideas with your own spin, or captivate them from completely different angles. As always with marketing, be creative while remaining true to your message, brand and voice.
Note: Schedule your posts. Thankfully, you can use tools to schedule your posts even months in advance. For Facebook, use its internal Scheduler, and for LinkedIn, use a 3rd party program such as Hootsuite (it’s free).
2. Include an image separately uploaded to the post – don’t just post a link and have a thumbnail image (a small image automatically generated from the link’s web page) pop up. This way, a larger image appears, capturing more attention.
3. You can post the same link several times throughout one week if you like. Just be sure NOT TO COPY/PASTE the same introductory words, but rather phrase the post differently each time to spice it up. This is called repurposing content.
4. In addition to keeping up with the likes and shares each posts garners, you can gauge interest via each post’s comments. It’s important that you respond to each positive comment, and delete any which may be inappropriate or spammy. The posts with the most recent comments, likes or shares tend to keep being viewed by others. Additionally, you can see others’ friends/connections’ comments on your post, and you can ask to connect with them too, ultimately exponentially expanding your network.
Advertising with Social Media
Not all of your connections will see all of your posts, and it’s not just because they missed reading them. Rather, it’s the social media network’s way of encouraging Sponsored Posts, i.e., you pay for them to reach a wider audience. You can also pay for outright ads, monitoring their progress with an analytics tool. The ads can be a relatively small investment and are a cornerstone of many businesses today.
By now it’s standard to see buttons to like, recommend or share an article within the article itself. Be sure your website setup includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest buttons on your home page and all internal web articles and blogs, so when someone is interested in or impressed by your content, it’s easy as pie for them to promote it.
Virtual Assistants for Social Media
Many business owners prefer to delegate social media deployment to an assistant or specialist. You can work together with your assistant on post content, and choosing the right platforms and connections. In less than an hour each day, your assistant can identify (or create) relevant content for your audience and therefore maintain your social media presence, securing more connections for your business, ultimately resulting in increased brand awareness and profitability.
Submitted by Chaya Leah