Let’s face it; many of us have jumped on the social networking bandwagon in some way. Be it via Linked In, Twitter or Facebook many business people recognise there’s business potential in using social media – especially if their customers and clients are. But many of us often struggle to turn that potential into reality – the major hurdle often being time.
Busy entrepreneurs and business people know they need to communicate with their network, but
a) having time for the creative thought process to write a valuable update, and
b) scheduling that time into busy days
…means social networking often gets tasked to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.
And yet the best profiles (the ones that stimulate business opportunities) are those that are kept fresh. They’re the ones where the content adds value to an individual’s network (not blatantly sells). The people who win business or strengthen their social network relationships are those who interact regularly with the medium.
So here are some time efficient tips to help you keep your social media profile fresh.
Make your photo work for you
What’s your photo like in your chosen social media? Nowadays email add-ons, such as Xobni, check out which email address is linked to a photo in a social network. This means that people, when they receive an email from you, may well be looking at your image as it appears on LinkedIn or Facebook. So perhaps think twice about linking your Facebook account to your business email address – especially if you want to post up personal pictures there?
Keep business email addresses and related images purely for professional purposes on your social networks. Remember that your profile photo will be small when it appears in social media and email. Opt for a close up of you with a blurred or neutral background. That way it’s clear it is you and the focus is on you, not your surroundings.
Scheduling in updates
When put on the spot, few of us can think of an interesting profile update. There are, however, free technologies that help us preset updates and say when we want them to appear. This means we can brainstorm a number of updates in one go and preset them to appear at different dates and times. Check out Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and other such applications. Simple to use, they enable you to be proactive about your profile updates and tweets so you can fit them more easily into a busy schedule.
Linking your different social media profiles
I’m often asked if you should link Twitter with LinkedIn. Personally my preference is not to because I think in the UK, we want to use LinkedIn in a slightly differently way to Twitter. With LinkedIn, we want to keep up with the people in our business network and find out about developments in their professional life. Realistically, we probably don’t have time to read about their daily thoughts and activities. Ideally a LinkedIn update should:
- broaden our view of what a contact does (so we don’t pigeon hole them for offering just one service/expertise)
- increase their credibility in our mind
- prompt us to get in touch to comment on or discuss the update they’ve posted
- alert us to changes in their situation, ones which may present opportunities for us too
If your updates are full of tweets and retweets and you’re signposting the minutiae of your day, your contacts may switch off. Also, do remember how your updates appear to them in LinkedIn, Facebook etc. When they go into their social network they’ll be looking to get a quick overview of news from all their contacts, not just you. Avoid swamping their network update page. Have an entry, make it interesting but don’t repeatedly hog the space. That way they’ll want to read your update and value your involvement as a connection.
Have something interesting to say
And if you’re saying the same old thing in your updates, consider your news from the perspective of your contacts. What would be interesting or valuable to them? What would make you stand out? Try some of these suggestions to keep your social media updates fresh and interesting:
- Pass on information either from yourself or someone else in your network, which would be useful to others contacts
- Warn them of a forthcoming issue if it’s relevant
- Invite them to something if they’d be interested in its content
- Communicate progress
- Share market news/ intelligence or useful business tips if it will help them
- Ask their opinion
- Update them on changes to your role/interest
Keep an eye on your contact’s developments
And just as you want people to note your network updates, you should aim to keep up with theirs. This means keeping an eye on changes. If you can’t get to your network overview on a regular basis, then make sure you sign up to receive a weekly LinkedIn (or similar) update email. It’ll alert you to changes and developments in your network and give you the chance to post comment. Do make positive comment on specific updates if relevant – your contact will value the interaction and who knows, it could lead on to a business opportunity.
Maintain a sensible number of groups
In LinkedIn you can opt to join as many business groups as you like and receive alerts from them with the latest discussions. My advice is to keep the number of groups manageable so these discussion alerts don’t swamp your inbox and eat up valuable time. Blend a sensible mix of groups that relate to your profession (so you keep up with latest practices) and those which your customers/clients would have an interest in. Do interact with the groups by either posting answers to questions or posing questions yourself.
The social network’s suggestions
From time to time LinkedIn and Facebook will send you suggestions of people to expand your network and it’s worth checking out who they recommend, as it can save you some time having to trawl through. It’s sensible to go for those you know and who will enhance your existing network (not cause conflict). At the beginning of the year LinkedIn did a brilliant email alerting people to the contacts in their network who had switched jobs in the last few months. This was a great prompt to help people reinvigorate contact and see how contacts were doing in their new role. If LinkedIn does it again, do use the excuse to keep in touch.
Any time, any place any where
And if you’re using a smart phone such as a blackberry or i-phone, download the free apps so you can interact with your social network wherever you are. It’ll mean when you do have a spare 5minutes on the train, or in between meetings, you can check out how your network’s doing and update your status if needs be.
About the author: Michelle Daniels, Managing Director – Extended Thinking
An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a chartered marketer and member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.