Effective social media marketing is something I discuss a lot with clients and potential clients.
And one area which seems to keep coming up lately, including during a new client meeting yesterday, is that of social media engagement, and the importance of maintaining a well-established Home.
By Home, I mean your online home base - your website and blog.
Your website is, ideally, the place where you build the deepest, most meaningful, and potentially most profitable relationships. It's where potential clients and customers should really get a transparent, informative and up-to-date picture of you and your business.
The topic of social media engagement on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn came up during the new client meeting yesterday.
My response was straightforward and simple: 'The most important place to start getting social is on your website - that's where you convert visits to cash.'
Lots of businesses are focused on developing a Facebook page, or tweeting their latest product promotions, or trying to find target customers and connections on LinkedIn, and this is perfectly valid as an element of the social media marketing mix, if the target client is hanging out on those platforms.
But, first and foremost, your Home base must be socially savvy. It should in inviting, packed full of goodies, and highlighting in a simple way why doing business with your business is a no-brainer compared to dealing with your direct competitors.
The saying 'Home is where the Heart is' remains true here: more services and products are being bought by referral, recommendation and word-of-mouth today than ever before - particularly with the advance of social media to highlight brilliant services and products - so, your Home base website (and blog) should be promoting benefits, benefits, benefits.
Here's my top tips for turning your Home base into a place full of heart, enabling your potential clients to seriously consider your services and products as a must-have:
* Build the blog, build the brand
For me, blogging outreach remains one of the most important and effective elements of content marketing available. But it takes, time, effort, energy, and consistency. And, more importantly, I've seen clients gaining business from it within 48 hours of posting a blog. A blog works on so many different levels - personal, professional and profitable. Do it, do it well, and do it often.
* Let somebody else to the talking
We're all sick and tired of companies telling us how amazing they are - the days of spin are over, thanks to social media. Let somebody else do the talking for you, ideally a delighted client or customer. Third-party recommendation is a force to be reckoned with on social.
* Invite discussion and debate
People love to talk, to discuss, to debate - it's one of the reasons for the continuing success of social media. The days of broadcasting at an audience are over. Traditional marketing and advertising are dying on their feet. So, use your Home base to invite discussion, comments, opinions and more. This two-way, open approach also reflects well on how you do business.
* Give freely, but give appropriately
We all love a freebie, and your Home base should give value, too. I offer a range of useful articles called Free Stuff, which continue to be one of the most popular pages on my website. If, however, a prospect asks 'How do you do that?' then it's time to consider discussing hiring expertise and consultancy time. Give freely, but give appropriately. Value your time - others will, too.
* Use social media as a traffic driver
For me, one of the biggest benefits of social media engagement is to drive relevant, targeted traffic back to my website and blog. This engagement takes time, effort and energy. Social media platforms might be free, but effective social media marketing is not. Remember that spending hours on Facebook and Twitter might feel great, but building profitable clients starts at Home base.
* Remember that Google is watching
Your Home Page is the most popular destination on your website, thanks to Google. And when you invite somebody into your Home, it's usual to want to create the best possible impression. So, ask yourself honestly - is your Home Page doing you and your business justice? Does it accurately portray the heart and soul of what you offer? Some SEO copywriting might be in order.