Clients and coworkers often ask me if they should use social media to build their business. The answer is pretty simple. The Internet is throwing a cocktail party and everyone’s invited. If you’re not there, the other attendees are going to notice. Why wouldn’t you go?
Most importantly, everyone you want to talk to is probably already there. Your competitor is there wearing his best tux, and he’s already talking to your potential customers, so put on your nicest duds and head on over.
These handsome couples are enjoying a nice evening of cocktails sometime in the 1950s. In 60 years, if they apply the same standards of social behavior to their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn interactions, they’ll enjoy a new level of social media success.
Seriously – social media really is like a cocktail party. Follow the same rules and you’ll find social media success. At bloomfield knoble, we guide clients in the proper etiquette and strategies to use social media to grow their business.
You wouldn’t show up at a cocktail party in sweat pants and a ratty T-shirt. Likewise, make sure you’ve spent some time grooming your profile before you waltz into the social media soiree.
Dress up your profile with a smiling head shot (or company logo/product if you’re posting from a company page), a detailed, well-written summary that tells users who you are and what to expect from you, and – depending on the social platform – a creative, informative cover image.
These five optimization tips from Search Engine Watch can help you make the most of your social media profiles.
When you walk into a cocktail party, you look for people you know or who at least have similar interests as you. This is even easier on social media. Use the search features and reach out to like-minded users. Friend/follow them, or start a conversation. Be friendly and sincere. They’re more likely to respond and find out more about you and your company. It works at cocktail parties, and it works on social media.
Don’t dominate the conversation
No one likes a chatterbox. If you don’t let anyone else get a word in edge-wise in person, they’re going to look for someone else to talk to. Online, if someone logs on and your updates are dominating their newsfeed, they’re going to click unfollow faster than Facebook buys up potential competitors.
Each platform, like each different cocktail party venue, has a different culture, as explained in this post from Social Media Today, so vary your posting frequency accordingly.
Don’t only talk about yourself
On a related note, if all you do over drinks is talk about yourself, how great you and your company are, or all you do is show baby pictures, the other attendees will find a new conversation fast. There’s not much of a metaphor here because it applies exactly the same on social media:
Don’t talk only about yourself, your company or your kids. Talk about them, but also show you’re well-rounded and have interests. If all I ever did was talk about bloomfield knoble, my followers would get pretty tired of me pretty fast. To vary it up, from a professional standpoint, it helps to share and talk about articles or news in your industry.
Provide interesting insight
When you’re talking about industry news, no one at a cocktail party wants to listen to you simply recite what you saw on the news or to have you hand them a newspaper clipping (that would just be weird). If you’re sharing an article or news piece, always provide your own insight – why you found it interesting, and why your friends and followers should be interested.
Don’t try to sell to everyone you meet
Nothing’s worse than going to a party and having an obnoxious sales guy corner you to talk about his products and why you should buy from him. You just want to get away. Nothing’s worse on social media too.
Don’t think that because you’re posting from a company page that people expect you to sell to them. They don’t. Even on LinkedIn, it might seem as if you’re at a virtual business conference, but even at a business conference, if someone walks up to you and immediately starts trying to sell something to you, it’s a big turnoff.
Just like in a real-life social setting, it’s OK to ask for someone’s business, but build a relationship first. For every 10 posts, it’s OK if one post is a straight-ahead sales post promoting your business. The other posts should be industry news, professional insight or (on an individual page) appropriate personal posts.
This post from Social Media Examiner goes into more detail about converting leads into sales using social media.
If someone talks to you, talk back
What do you do at a cocktail party when someone walks up to you and compliments your tie? If you just stare back blankly, they might think that tie is cutting off circulation to your brain.
Always respond to posts – questions, comments, updates, mentions and friend/follower/link requests. It’s just the nice, social thing to do. It helps to have some stock responses ready (but vary up your wording), especially for friend and link requests. Use these to tell users a little about yourself and your business. Otherwise, it’s not just rude, but a wasted opportunity.
Be mindful of your goals
When you walk into the room at a social function, whether you know it consciously or not, you have a goal. It might be purely social (finding a date) or business (making a sale). Everything you do in that room should support that goal. But you’ve got to be smart and socially adept about it.
The point is, on social media, first and foremost, you should be social. But from the get-go, you definitely need to know what your business goals are.
What are the insights you want to share? What news are you going to comment on? Who are the friends and followers you want to foster relationships with?
The answer to all of these questions should build toward your ultimate business goals – increasing sales, driving traffic to your website and building and maintaining relationships.
You should never expect money to exchange hands at a cocktail party. Similarly, you’re not going to literally make a sale on social media. But attending the party, building relationships and providing a friendly, honest face and voice for your brand will go a long way toward influencing your customers’ decisions to do business with you.
At bloomfield knoble, we help clients of all sizes navigate all types of social media situations. From developing strategies and best practices and providing custom tools for their accounts, to managing the day-to-day operations of Forbes 100 companies’ social media, we’ve chaperoned plenty of social media cocktail parties.