Social media is great, but it can have its pitfalls, too. There’s a very specific etiquette that comes with social media (especially as it pertains to business), and if you don’t follow it, you could find yourself banned in such a way that you even hurt your business. Therefore, while the casual atmosphere of social media is certainly great for business, there are some things you should be aware of so that you can be careful, too when getting started with social media.
Don’t just jump in and start “selling”
The anonymity of the Internet has made people feel comfortable with just letting it “all hang out,” but that can come back to bite you big time if you’re trying to use it to promote your business. For one, you DON’T want to be anonymous if you are a business. You want people to know you and to trust you; you want them to depend on you for your expertise, and you want them to be comfortable with you as a “person.” The more comfortable they are with you, the more likely they are to buy from you when the time comes.
Lurk first, then introduce yourself respectfully
One of the best things you can do when you sign on to social media to try to promote your business is to hang back and watch how things work first. You’ll notice, for example, that people who try to spam are generally removed quickly from discussion — and even if they’re not, they may be flamed (made fun of, called out, and generally harassed) for their behavior. If you want your business to succeed through social media, you will want to avoid the hard sell and direct spamming.
Instead, lurk to see how things work, and then introduce yourself respectfully by joining a discussion about a topic you‘re somewhat of an “expert“ on. It should have to do with your niche, and the advice you give can certainly be related to the product or service you sell. However, it should NOT directly “sell” your product or service, and instead should simply be advice related to the question asked. Give away something for “free” with social networking — namely, your advice — and you’re much more likely to gain loyal customers quickly.
One of the best things about social media is that you can promote yourself indirectly, without overtly saying that you sell something. You do this by putting your website address and any other relevant information about yourself in your profile and/or your sig. line, as applicable. Once you come in on conversations and begin to participate (again, offering honest advice, and not trying to overtly sell anything), you’re indirectly advertising yourself simply by posting your signature line below your posts, and/or including information about your business and about you in your profile. At least some of the people you’re participating with are bound to be curious about your website and about you and will go take a look. And certainly, the people who are seeking your advice would likely go check you out and look at your profile, go visit your website, etc.
What’s great about this is you never have to engage in hard selling. Instead, you gradually establish yourself as an expert, someone people can turn to for advice in your particular niche. As you gain a reputation and a “brand” yourself as an expert, you can move on to the next area of social networking; that is, you’re actually going to put out content (videos and text) that will tell people more about your business, effortlessly, through viral marketing.