Social networking apps are no longer optional. If you are in business, you must have a presence in social media. This will allow you to build relationships with peers, as well as with prospects that can eventually become customers.
Getting started is easy. You can choose the top apps and learn how they are used. Each one has its own personality, rules and etiquette, so familiarize yourself with the three best ones and soon you will be building a network of online contacts.
The Big Three: Social Networking Apps for Business
This is the place for professionals to find each other, share ideas and even build business partnerships together. You won’t find cute pictures of cats here, and in fact, you won’t find many jokes or observations about politics and current events.
What you will find is people talking about their professions and their interest in professional topics. The scope is so broad; you will need to narrow the focus. The best way to do that is join groups that have discussions and resources regarding your interests.
For example, if you are in information technology, you will find numerous groups that discuss IT issues. Even waiters and waitresses have groups, as well as engineers, scientists, HR professionals and so on.
Don’t make direct pitches, and don’t get into arguments. Post items of interest for other professionals like yourself, and people will start adding you to their lists of contacts they want to keep up with. You should also add others to your contact list. You will see posts from them as they write about topics in your field.
Tip: Don’t just join groups of people who are like you. Join groups your customers might join. To give another example, if you sell clothing, join fashion-conscious groups. Here you might find people who would be interested in your business.
You can have two types of pages on Facebook. You can have a personal page about yourself, and you can have a business page for your company.
Facebook is more light-hearted than LinkedIn. People post cat pictures, vacation pictures and political comments. You can join groups on anything from religion to hobbies, as well as professional groups.
Your personal page and business page can work together. On your personal page, post items about you, your family, even your pets and favorite meals. Enter discussions on topics of interest that may have nothing to do with your business. You can then “friend” people by making a friend request. After you have some friends, you can invite them to “like” your business page and even follow the posts you will put there.
Begin writing posts on your professional page that are about your business, your market, or developments in your field.
The overlap between your personal page and business page can build a network of people who are aware of your company. They may eventually become customers, or they may refer customers to you.
Tip: The goal on Facebook is to have people like you. Facebook users want friends, and once they are your friends, they may be willing to learn more about your business.
If you enjoy videos, YouTube is the place for you. You don’t have to start making videos to benefit from this site. Watch videos of interest to you, subscribe to them and make comments. Soon you will have a network of people who appreciate your interest in their videos.
You can also make videos pertaining to your business. Don’t worry about a lot of fancy equipment and professional lighting. Many YouTube videos are shot with smartphones. What you do want in your videos is lots of good information. Make short videos demonstrating how to use one of your products or services. You may start gathering subscribers, and begin posting videos regularly. Always include your contact information on your video posts, and you can attract customers to your website.
Tip: Make your videos chock-full of personality. There is a feeling on YouTube that everyone is looking for a standout person who is genuine, entertaining and just plain fun. Even if you don’t think you are the fun type, at least be genuine and sincere. If you feel you don’t want to be in front of the camera, find an employee who might enjoy showing off his or her talent.
The Bottom Line
Wade into the pool of social networking apps by starting with LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, and you will get the hang of it in no time. Don’t get overly-ambitious and sign up for dozens of apps at first, because you will get overwhelmed and won’t be able to keep up.