Many of my clients recognize the value of social media. They know they needed to increase their online presence; they understand the power of the many social networking platforms but are unsure where to start. They feel they cannot commit the time or energy and so they call me, in hopes that I can guide them through and help them make the right choices. I appreciate the faith that they have in my abilities. They are essentially trusting me with their business and their livelihood.
When beginning to work with a client new to social media, it can, at times, be difficult to help them understand the proper social etiquette of social networking. I’ve had new clients ask why I’m tweeting or posting content that isn’t about their business. They ask why I’m following their competitors and why I’m sharing information outside their niche market.
It does take time to explain that when you are trying to grow your audience, it is critical to follow the best practices of social media. That when you are trying to grow your there are behaviours that will engage and grow your followers or fan base and definitely behaviours that will turn them off. While many of us on these social networks want to sell ourselves, our services and our products, our audience isn’t necessarily there to hear it. They are either trying to do the same thing, or just trying to connect with other people in a friendly way. And no one likes a friend who is always spouting off his or her opinion without listening to anyone else’s.
As a social media consultant, I try to encourage my clients to follow the 70/20/10 rule. For 70 percent of the time, in order to pull your audience in and grow your fan base, you must be the bearers of good and useful information. You want to be seen as an expert so you must be a purveyor of knowledge, sharing interesting links to appealing articles and engaging your followers in a conversation about things that THEY are interested in. That way, they are more likely to re-post, re-tweet and share this information with their own fan-base and followers. They, too, want to be seen as experts, as kind and generous bearers of information. So the more interesting the resources you share are, the more likely they are to be shared.
At least some of your time online, around 20 percent, should be spent engaging your audience in a in a conversation about things that are happening with them, a conversation that shows your human side to your online friends. It says to your followers that you are human; it encourages them to trust you and allows you to form connections that will increase the likelihood that they will want to share your information with their own online fan base, just as you will share what they say with your fan base. Remember that everyone likes to feel included so acknowledging your fan or follower's contribution to your conversation goes a long way.
Lastly, and least importantly, you are there to market your products and yourselves. So a little bit of shameless promotion is all right. As long as you do so in the same type of gentle conversation that brought you your fans in the first place. You do, after all, want to keep your reach far and wide. So, as a social media consultant, not only do your clients look to you to help them grow their business, they also look to you to educate them about the best practices of social networking. It will make a happier online experience for us all.