Over the last couple of days I’ve blogged on the increasing spamminess (is that a word? — I’m just like Sarah Palin and Shakespeare!) of social networks. After that, I got the best example from my Facebook site. Take a look at this:
ALERT: This is the Easiest Home Based Business on the PLANET! My Health Cost $40 a Month, but telling others to “Take The Tour” makes me $1000 Per Month!!
Talk about blatant spam. This is why I predict a shake-out in social media much like the one experienced by the dot.coms in the 1990’s. But, this creates a conundrum: How do you make money without producing spam?
The solution to this conundrum is to develop a sound social marketing strategy that builds relationships with people who WANT to do business with you. As Peter mentioned yesterday when we were discussing this in our LinkedIN group, you wouldn’t just walk into a room and start selling. You need to be introduced, get to know the folks in the room, build trust between you. Only then can you sell them something.
Doing social marketing this way is no get rich quick scheme. It involves time, effort, and a viable marketing strategy. There are lots of sites out there sharing advice on how to develop social marketing strategy, but they are all variations on these basic building blocks.
Build Trusting Relationships
Marketing strategy online is really not that much different than marketing strategy offline — its only the medium that’s different. Its really not brain surgery. You’ve probably been building relationships since you were a little kid. Think about what works and modify it to fit an online environment. So, how do you make friends offline:
1. Be nice – share your toys, say please and thank you
2. Help people – this develops reciprocity, which means they want to help you since you’ve helped them
3. Talk – its hard to develop friendships if you don’t share openly and honestly with people.
4. Keep promises – if you say you’ll do something or be somewhere, do it
5. Support people – friendship is not all about you, build them up, show them they’re special
6. Be welcoming – invite new people to join your group
7. Invite them over – give them a popsicle, even if they want the banana that’s your favorite.
In school, there were always the popular kids. Everyone wanted to be friends with them, everyone wanted to be like them, everyone wanted to do what they were doing, wear what they were wearing, go where they were going. Things haven’t changed that much, except now those popular kids have more influence over what others think and do and their reach extends well past the school playground. Often the best way to get something done is to make friends with the popular kids.
Join in – Network
The more people you know, the more friends you have. So, don’t just hang out in your room playing video games all day, get out and meet people. Its important that you meet as many people as possible both online and offline. But, don’t push. Remember, no one wants you to start selling as soon as you enter the room.
So, all this sounds easy, but how do you do it. Its easier than you think.
Join lots of groups to meet influencers — join LinkedIN groups, look for networking events in your community, join professional organizations in your area, develop a Facebook page and friend everyone you meet, be active at your church, join civic organizations and political action groups, volunteer at the hospital or local school, meet your neighbors. The trick is to be active in these groups, don’t just join. See who the influencers are in these groups. Get to know them. Have lunch or a cup of coffee together (online you can do this figuratively by having a private conversation, asking their advice, etc). Some online influencers may warrant a personal visit, depending on their level of influence with your target audience. For instance, if you have a hotel, you might invite them for a complementary weekend.
LinkedIN has made this easier with their new group features that display the top influencers in each group and allow you to follow them or others involved in important discussions. A Klout score also reflects the online influence of an individual. Seek individuals with high Klout scores to follow on Twitter. One tactic I think makes a good element in successful marketing strategy is I cross pollinate between social media –I invite my LinkedIN connections to be friends on Facebook and follow them on Twitter if I can.
Offer a hand – if someone needs your help, give it willingly. Look for ways to be helpful. Develop tools to help prospective clients, such as a blog providing valuable information or a white paper or newsletter you can send them. Give a free presentation. Pay it forward. One thing I’ve found is a valuable msrketing tool is I host an “Ask a Marketing Expert” segment on Facebook every Friday (http://Facebook.com/angela.hausman) where I answer any question posed. Anyone can post a question. Not only do I answer questions, but often my network of hundreds of marketing experts will get involved to answer them. I’ve branded it with the tagline : its fun… its free… its Friday. Not only does this provide some valuable information (and its fun), but it gives me an opening to SUGGEST how I might help them further on a consulting basis. But even here, suggesting consulting is done in an offhand way, with no pressure and certainly no hard sell.
If someone sends a friend request, accept it. If they follow you, follow them back. If they comment on your blog post or a discussion you’ve started, thank them. If they re-tweet something you sent, thank them. Re-tweet interesting things posted by your network. Mention other influential bloggers in your blog posts and link to them. Thank them for linking to you. If they ask a question, answer it openly and honestly. If they have a birthday or a new baby, acknowledge it. Celebrate them.