In this current age of personality promotion, people want to connect with individuals rather than deal with faceless corporate entities. Market yourself as a brand and your business will reap the benefits. Entrepreneurs like you can market themselves directly to their potential customers like never before with online tools and techniques.
You are the face of your business and as a company leader your customers, employees and industry community must trust you as well as your business to deliver on your value promise. Use the new opportunities that social media presents to introduce yourself to your audience of existing customers, potential clients and the community of observers who want to get to know you and your business.
Make the personal communal. How do you communicate your experience to someone else? You tell them how it feels to be you. How do you communicate the benefits of your business to your potential customers? You make your audience feel the benefits of being your client. Use social media marketing strategically to create a world in which your audience can get a taste of what it’s like to your lucky customer.
Entrepreneurs like you are in the perfect position to market their business person-to-person through social media. You now have access to an audience of potential customers from around the globe. Social media makes it possible for you to interact with your audience directly. Through these interactions you are both showing and telling your target market what your business can do for them. In the $100 Startup: Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love and create a new future, author Chris Guillebeau urges businesses to offer customers benefits rather than features. Benefits are emotional and embody what the customer will feel or how their life will be changed by using your service. Features are descriptive and tell the customer the qualitative details of the product you provide. Good news for you entrepreneur! Social media marketing is an excellent method to convey and create the emotional responses you want your customers experience by doing business with you. Your audience can now converse with you online, see behind-the-scenes photos of your office or store, read your responses to online reviews and enter into an online community of your making where you can demonstrate and display what your brand represents and how your product or service improves the lives of others. This chapter will give you tips on how to convey your brand message to your audience and ensure that they feel the benefit of your company promise. Social media marketing turns curious observers to committed customers and here is how.
Engagement is key
Before you turn on, log in and start socializing, decide what your personal brand identity is going to be. Are you an industry expert, cool business ingénue or a person of the people (humble and down-to-earth)? Deciding what your audience should feel about you (and your business) after interacting with you is your first step. Once you have determined your personal and business brand identity you must engage your audience.
Follow the Five Laws of Social Media Engagement
- Handle with care. Use the same handle across all social media profiles. Be consistent. Make it easy for your audience to find you. Sir Richard Branson is always @richardbranson.
- Make conversation. Post more than just status updates: retweet on Twitter, like posts of people you follow on Facebook, submit comments to forums, share articles on LinkedIn, tag people in posts to Instagram, reply to comments on your blog. Avoid exclusively posting status updates about your business’ latest sale or product addition. Talk to your audience not at them.
- Be a director. Direct your audience to your website. Your interactions on social media should ultimately drive potential customers to your website hub where you sell your goods or services. Get your potential customers interested in what you have to say and you will make them interested in what you have to sell. An online audience that is actively talking to you, quoting you and following you is also willing to click on a link to your website that you have cleverly embedded in your post.
- Share and share alike. Post content worth sharing and share the content of others. Say something witty, give free advice in the form of a top ten list on your blog or post a behind-the-scenes video you know your network would love to see. Make content people want to tell their friends about. The more audiences share your content the more eyes are directed to you. Your audience wants to know that you are aware of current trends, creative, understand their needs and that you are capable of delivering on your brand promise. Contribute content that conveys this message.
- Network, network, network. Like working the room at a cocktail party, each social media platform has a slightly different function, hosts different conversations and content and welcomes a different type of audience. Converse with users from a variety of platforms; when they follow you, follow them back. Learn about the people on each network then target your marketing to your desired audience members. Interact with local people, businesses from related industries; contemporaries, competitors, vendors and suppliers. Talk about yourself and talk about your business. Make connections work for you.
To automate or not to automate: scheduled posting
Now that you are fully engaged in social media marketing it can be a challenge to keep up with a regular posting schedule. Automated social media services are multiplying to respond to this increased demand. HootSuite, Buffer, IFITT, Simplefeed are a few of the litany of scheduled posting and autoresponse services for social media. Although it may be tempting to spend one evening a week scheduling all of your posts for the coming week, don’t. Remember the unique opportunity that social media marketing offers you as an entrepreneur: the public can interact with you personally. Your advantage over the faceless corporate entity is your reaction online. When feeling overwhelmed by the demands of social media marketing on your limited time, try a combination of scheduled and unscheduled posting. There is a special alchemy to creating a balance of a pre-determined presence and spontaneous persona on social media.
- Timing. Time your scheduled posts to obtain the most punch for your post. You’re you the numbers about engagement. Research which day of the week elicits the most activity for each platform. What time of day do Facebook users check their feeds? Which day of the week do Twitter users retweet the most? How many times a month do LinkedIn users make new connections? Schedule according to the best timing research has discovered.
- Spontaneity. When something new or exciting happens shout it from the social media mountaintop. Share events as they are happening. Participate in discussions that are trending, you might access new audience members that never would have noticed you otherwise.
- Purpose and presence. Remember your purpose is to drive customers to your site or store where they can buy what you sell. Your content must be carefully selected and strategically placed. Avoid bombarding people with too many posts or irrelevant content throughout the day just because you can schedule posts. If you have nothing to say or share that day, it is okay. When you do make an appearance on social media sites your presence should be a welcome one. It is always better to leave them wanting a little more.
 Guillebeau, Chris. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. Crown Publishing Group, 2012.
This is just a sample from a chapter in the brilliant marketing book: Online Marketing Sorted! Available from Amazon,
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of My Entrepreneur Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, The Property Investor and Gold, Oil and Diamonds, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.