For busy consultants and coaches, it often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. When you’re zooming from client meetings to training sessions and then back to the office for your next call, how do you make time to cultivate new relationships on social media? We are all inundated with information everyday, and the ubiquity of social media can make it difficult to know how and where to start.
Why should you use social media for your overall growth strategy?
Social media is an affordable way to reach new people, and turn those people into prospects. You can increase overall brand awareness and recognition, and showcase your expertise and personality to new audiences. Through social media, consultants can create and nurture meaningful relationships that generate leads, find new potential customers you didn’t know existed (and they can find you), and expand your professional network. It also allows you to get personal—you can interact directly, in the moment, with people who are considering your services. Social media is also a great way to increase inbound web traffic to your site, and to keep tabs on what your competitors are up to.
Here are my favorite tactics for making the most out of social media for consultants, boosting your online presence, and ultimately, cultivating relationships that convert.
Some Best Practices
The first thing you’ll need to do is select the networks you want to participate in. For many consultants and coaches, LinkedIn will be the most important channel. Resist the urge to chase trends, or keep up with new social media channels that don’t fit your business needs. Managing multiple channels can be time consuming—so focus on the places that bring you results.
Create engaging bios and graphics for each page/profile you use. Include as many keywords as you can in the About section of your profile—this makes it easy for prospects to find you when they’re looking for a service like yours. Make sure you fill out every section of your profile (don’t leave any fields blank), and keep a consistent voice and tone across your profiles and posts.
Consistency is key. There are some best practices for post frequency/time of day to post—but the most important thing is to create a schedule you can stick to. Have you ever visited the Twitter page of a business you were interested in, only to discover that they haven’t Tweeted since a flurry of activity in the middle of the night back in 2011? I don’t know about you, but I unconsciously assume that they don’t really have their business in order, and often move on to a competitor. Post regularly, and as frequently as you can manage. In addition to posting regularly, be sure to interact with your followers as much as possible.
Be true to your own voice. People out there are savvy, and can sense when you are being phoney or inauthentic. Don’t worry about sounding the smartest, having all the answers, or spending hours crafting your posts—speak in your own voice, and share content that matters to you.
Seek out groups of like-minded professionals—LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, etc. are all great resources for making new connections. Jump into the discussion! Comment on posts, ask questions, and share the content you find most relevant. Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your time should be spent on providing value, interacting with others, and building awareness, while the remaining 20% should link back directly to your business.
Every business will have a unique approach to social media. I’ve curated my best tips to help you out along the way. I know that you’re busy—so I’ve broken it down into tips you can fit into your schedule, whether you have 5 minutes or an hour (or anywhere in between). You can pick and choose the options that are right for you.
If You’ve Got 5 Minutes
- Find one or two new people to follow in each channel.
- Share a post from an expert in your field (and invite discussion in your post).
- Comment on a post—you can share your perspective, or simply thank the poster for sharing it.
- Post an article, image, or video, that includes a link back to your website.
- Reply to anyone who has engaged with you.
If You’ve Got 15 Minutes
- Comment on a post you recently found interesting.
- Find five new people to follow in each channel, and follow-back the people who have recently engaged with you.
- Check your mentions/inboxes and reply to everyone who has engaged with you.
- Visit your favorite websites, and start a list of links to content you’d like to share in the future.
- Write a few draft posts that you can revisit and post later
If You’ve Got 30 Minutes
- Dive into a group discussion or online chat. Answer questions when you have expertise, link back to your own blog/website when relevant, and don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself!
- Make a list of major influencers in your field (authors, frequent guest speakers, podcast hosts, bloggers, etc.) that you admire. Find and interact them on social media.
- Schedule a batch of posts. There are several free tools (Hootesuite, Sprout, Buffer. etc.) that can automate the process for you with just a bit of setup. Scheduling posts ahead of time will help you stay consistent, even while juggling a full calendar.
If You’ve Got an Hour
- Mix and match all of the above! Interact with followers, find people to follow, engage in discussions, reply to people who have engaged with you, post an interesting article or link back to your website.
- Review your list of followers, and identify the contacts who could become prospects or clients. Reach out to them personally—it can be as simple as sending them a direct message thanking them for interacting with you, telling a bit about yourself and your service, and opening the door for connecting more in the future.
- Review your website and social media profiles—make sure the tone and voice are consistent, that you have the most up to date version of graphics/videos available, and that the description of your business is both accurate and descriptive.
- Look at the analytics for each social channel. This will help you spot trends, evaluate if your content is resonating with your audience, and check if you’re posting the right mix of content at the right times. Analytics will also help you determine if the platform is right for you and your content.
Remember, your end goal with social media is to increase overall brand awareness, cultivate relationships with potential leads, and generate inbound traffic to your website. This process takes time, so don’t expect results overnight. These activities will help you build up the top of your sales funnel, and the way you move these new prospects through to sales will vary greatly depending on the nature of your sales and marketing activities.
Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. As millennials move into management positions, there is an increased expectation for businesses to be visible and active on social media. Use the tactics above to build your online profile effectively, in the time that you have available.
Looking for inspiration? Join the conversation in our LinkedIn Community, Facebook Page, or follow us on Twitter.
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