Social Media: Beyond the Sale

Melanie Romanaux, CEO of Somedia Solutions, Inc. will be writing a series of social media guest blogs for DCD – Complete Marketing Solutions. Her team provides social media training and social media management to medium-large companies all over the US while raising $20,000 this year for Stick it 2 Cancer. Get connected with her on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter – she loves to answer your social media questions!

Engaging Prospects in Social Media

Actively engaging in social media means that you are involved in your prospects’ conversations every day. If you are asking questions, answering their questions, sending useful and free information to help them solve a problem, or even just commenting about how their favorite athlete played last night, then you should be seeing the return on the time you have invested in those conversations.

Social Media is Active Networking

If you think about social media as active networking, for example think about the conversations you have when you visit the local chamber meetings, industry meetups, or educational sessions directed toward your target audience, then you already have an inherent understanding of return on these relationships. Business owners who are managing their own social media should approach it with the intention of building valuable relationships. I’ll walk you through who you should be connecting with and how to start the conversation with them.

You might ask, “Who do I build valuable relationships with using Twitter or Google+ or Pinterest?” Luckily these three social networks make it very easy to discover, connect with, and engage or converse with millions of people. There are three different groups you should be looking for and following:

  1. Prospects – these are people who will eventually purchase your product or service. They are in the right age range, gender, geographic location, have interests similar to what you offer, or even use a competing product.
  2. Influencers – this is a group of people who may or may not ever buy your product or service. What is important about this group, is the audience they influence. Their audience may be likely to purchase your product or service. You want to build relationships with your top influencers and get them to recommend your brand to their followers.
  3. Competitors – it is always smart to know what your competitors are up to. Did you know that you can actually list your competitors on Twitter without actually following them? This is a good way to keep your fingers on the pulse of what they think is relevant to your audience. However, the best thing you can do is watch for complaints about your competitor – find opportunities to swoop in and save that prospect’s day!

Connecting on Social Media is Like Connecting at Networking Events

Let’s take a look at how a live networking conversation might go:
When I walk into a networking meeting, I usually do a lap around the room, waving to people I do and do not know, and observing who is talking with whom. If I do know someone, I will start up a conversation and, when it feels natural, I’ll ask them if they know anyone in the room I should talk to. I might be more specific and ask if there is anyone who might need my services, or could solve a problem I am having. If I’ve explained my business and who would make a good referral well enough, the person will introduce me to someone new who will fit into one of the first two groups – prospect or influencer.

I love a warm introduction to a prospective or influential person. They usually trust me right off the bat because they know the person who introduced us and they are much more open to hearing what I have to say. What impresses them more? I ask them to tell me about their business. I will do my best to think up an opportunity right on the spot and hand them a physical introduction with a card (I carry around my favorite businesses’ cards with me). Before I know it, they are usually asking me about my business and how they might help me.

Can you imagine the above scenario playing out on Twitter? Since I have been using Twitter to build my own relationships, this feels like second nature to me. The conversations I have on Twitter are almost exactly like the ones I have in real life. They are authentic conversations, the person and I come to trust each other, and then we want to bring each other business because we actually like each other.

The key, in live networking and in networking with social media, is to start the conversation.

Now, networking in person isn’t easy for everyone, I myself get nervous when I don’t know anyone at all, so I realize it may not come as naturally to everyone. There are a few things to know about Twitter, which might make it easier to reach out and say hello.
1. Twitter is a public website, it’s tweeters are aware that (in many cases) their profile and tweets are public, and therefore they expect random people, companies, or groups to follow them and talk to them.
2. Not only do tweeters expect to be discovered, they WANT to be discovered! They want to be heard and recognized, so listen to them and recognize them!
3. Twitter culture is different from that of Facebook and LinkedIn, and they use a different language. Get used to it, speak to them in their language, and they are more likely to talk to you – and about you.

Quick Social Media Tip for Twitter:

What do I say when I tweet someone I have just followed for the first time?

Start with hello! Is there something in their profile that interests you? Maybe you are both runners – sports are an easy thing to talk about at first. Maybe they are in the same area, involved in the same groups, or they know someone you know. “How do you know @soandso, they did a great job on my new website!” See what I did there? I just introduced myself, but referred to (and tagged) someone we both know, creating instant credibility and trust, especially if @soandso replies that my new connection and I should meet.

If you do not have a natural way to join their conversation right off the bat, wait! Research them: what is on their LinkedIn profile, who else do they know, what do they tweet about? When it feels natural to jump into their conversation, do so. On the other hand, you might ask them a question. If I am tweeting on behalf of a personal training client, I might ask a targeted prospect what they enjoy most about their workout. By not asking a salesy question right off the bat and by showing genuine interest in their tweet, they might ask me about my client’s gym in return. Then, it is easy for me to invite them in to try a whole week/month for free. When they come to visit, my client will ask them to please tweet about their experience.

If you have real conversations with real people, you will start to develop real relationships. If that person comes into the gym and my client’s gym rocks it out, my client will hopefully gain a new member and therefore add to her bottom line. It’s a little more technical than making a phone call, but the principals are the same.

Feeling the need to practice reaching out and starting conversations? Start with me! Follow me on twitter: @MJRomanaux and my company’s twitter: @SomediaStrategy. Introduce yourself by saying hello in a tweet and then, if you’d like, ask me and my team your social media questions. We answer pretty quickly and we may even include you and your question in our upcoming video series.

Stay tuned for my next guest blog for DCD – Complete Marketing Solutions. I’ll be talking about building relationships and making sales when you’re outsourcing your social media.

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