Social networks are not just for big business

While Facebook is still the king of social media from a user numbers perspective, I’m still surprised by the many mumpreneurs I speak to not actively using LinkedIn and Twitter to grow their businesses.

 

Regular readers will recall from previous blogs my evangelism for the opportunities that come from using social media as a space to make business to business (B2B) relationships work for you.

 

As a channel for parading your brand and letting others play with it (and you), social media is pure genius. The capacity to use these same channels to ask your peers and thought leaders for help and B2B advice is pure gold.

 

Perhaps some of the reluctance for those mumpreneurs in micro or home-based businesses is the sense that these are “professional channels” and, as non- corporate, they don’t qualify.

 

Twitter, like Facebook, is a diverse community with plenty of non-business distractions: You can choose to use it for Ashton Kutcher’s latest epiphany should you so wish.

 

If you strategically approach the people and companies you follow and what you post, retweet, comment on and share, you can largely tailor your audience to feed into some part of your supply chain.

 

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. However, it is all about showcasing you as an individual, your skills and professional social capital for business opportunities.

 

A friend’s daughter recently referred to LinkedIn as “Facebook for old people”. If being an old person means no irritating ads, no banal posts and no distraction from my brand, then bring on the Zimmer frame.

 

The key with both networks as a B2B proposition is where does each fit in your overall business growth strategy.

 

When you understand how and with whom the heavy lifting can occur by using social networks, your use of them will become highly efficient.

 

Here are my top five tips for getting the best from your B2B social media channels:

  1. Write a digital strategy for you and your business, including social media with KPIs that align with business growth. Include metrics such as connections, volume of followers and sharing and re-tweeting to measure your growth.
  2. Identify the people on LinkedIn and Twitter who are hubs in your industry, thought leaders and influencers. These are the individuals and brands that you want to associate with and be visible to.
  3. Start a conversation and be open, honest and appropriate in your posting. Social networks are social; the rules of engagement for B2B are similar. Imagine a virtual networking function and dive in with a firm 140-character handshake.
  4. Read and track the posts that have the most impact on you, share your ideas with others, and join groups and contribute. Follow back and connect with others and acknowledge them, making introductions and endorsements to those in your networks where appropriate.
  5. Ask for help, advice and guidance and as your relationships deepen. Watch them transform into collaboration and referral.

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