Participation in one or more social media platforms is now a given in both the professional and personal spheres. Nearly every Solopreneur has a presence on at least one platform, even if that participation is not active. Social media has the potential to provide benefits to business owners, the self-employed and the traditionally employed, but in order to reap those benefits, one must understand how this resource can best function within specific circumstances.
The first question to consider is, who’s listening? Do those you want to reach participate in social media for their organization’s needs or just for their own career? That answer will determine which platform to choose. The second question is, what is your business? Your third question is, will social media function for you as a sales tool, marketing tool, or PR?
Twitter is king when having conversations with current or potential customers about your business or industry is the goal. Tweet an announcement of the class you’ll teach, the conference you’ll attend and your thoughts on a presentation you’ve just heard. Store owners tweet the arrival of new merchandise; restaurant owners tweet the daily specials; musicians tweet the dates of upcoming performances or new music releases.
LinkedIn is the platform of choice for the traditionally employed and Solopreneurs who offer business-to-business services. I think of LinkedIn as my adjunct website, where I can announce professional victories; provide a link to an article that my connections might like to read; or announce an upcoming conference. LinkedIn Groups lets me interact with peers in my industry and exchange relevant information, success stories and challenges. Recruiters looking to fill jobs are known to peruse LinkedIn in search of qualified job candidates to interview.
Define how social media can function for you, based on the business you’re in and the way your customers use social media. If prospective customers like the look of the landscapes you design or the sound of your jazz combo and feel comfortable judging the value you provide online, then social media directly impacts the sales process and is for you a sales tool. Facebook’s Fan Page will likely be your platform of choice.
If potential customers use Twitter memes to discuss industry developments, then marketing is your social media strategy. Use the platform to establish your bona fides as an up-to-date, in-the-know thought leader. Promote your expertise and develop a following by sharing a steady stream of relevant information (content) that will benefit prospects. Tell, don’t sell.
Peer-to-peer PR is the function of LinkedIn. Stay abreast with what colleagues are doing professionally and announce your achievements as well. Make recommendations and endorsements for those with whom you’ve worked, in either a paid or volunteer position, and receive commendations in return. Those looking to hire employees or Solopreneur consultants might peruse LinkedIn for candidates and referrals for project work, so keep your profile current and complete.
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is a strategy and marketing consultant who works with for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders who must achieve business goals. Kim is the founder and principal of the consulting firm Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn how Kim’s expertise can benefit your organization when you visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com.