4 Styles of Social Media Approaches
This blog will focus on some of the primary Social Media types you will encounter and will offer insight into how you can make sure you are maximizing these tools in your new business search.
Social media is all about engaging your customer first. When approaching your audience, you have the options of:
1. Entertaining them
2. Collaborating with them
3. Communicating with them
4. Educating them
During your new business search, you will traditionally experience the most impact with your contacts when you're communicating with and educating them through Social Media.
1. Entertain them—I hesitate to encourage the use of the first tool: entertaining your contacts. With the exception of someone who is specifically in the entertainment industry, I feel that very few people would be able to pull off this tool effectively and not, pardon my French, blow it.
There is a tremendous risk of being misunderstood and considered highly unprofessional with trying the entertaining approach in your Social Media campaign. My professional advice is to stay away from this one unless you happen to be a professional entertainer.
One of the primary rules in using any Social Media tools is to protect your personal and professional image. Better to play it safe in the entertainment department and not break that cardinal rule.
2. Collaborate with them—When you collaborate with your Social Media contacts (i.e., your audience), you're generally participating in an online discussion with them. This collaboration could take place in a chat room, in a LinkedIn group you are a member of, on a discussion board, or on Wikipedia, just to name a few.
Notice that all of these places are ones where you can demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry, product category, channel of distribution, etc. Commenting on threads related to your areas of expertise is a subtle but powerful way to share and showcase your knowledge and skill.
I suggest you monitor the discussion going on in a few groups for one to two weeks. Then, pick the one you feel the most comfortable with in terms of your ability to add value to the conversation. Be sure to take your professional expertise relative to the majority of the topics discussed into consideration as well.
You may want to consider having your business organization hire a person part time or full time to take care of this process for your organization. For yourself to help develop potential business leads through social media, I suggest you focus on commenting when you are not at work if it is for personal reasons. Plan to spend one to two hours a month taking part in Social Media collaboration for your business and personal accounts. Run your business posts by your internal social media expert, if there is one, prior to posting. You want to make sure all your social media communications are authentic and consistent in their message.
Unearthing networks to join is no problem. All the major Social Networking sites have discussion groups (e.g., LinkedIn's Groups Directory). You'll also find myriads to choose from Yahoo Groups (groups.yahoo.com), Google Groups (groups.google.com), Ting.com, etc.
Be aware that it takes a lot of time to be actively involved in these discussion groups, but the effort can be well worth it. The payoff of increasing your visibility is one that can't be ignored.
When it comes to participation, always remember to be genuine, helpful, and truthful with your comments. You do not want to come across as desperate or begging for job assistance. You need fellow group members to view you as sincere. You want to come across as trying to add genuine value to the group discussion. Ideally, you'll be able to help someone else with your useful information.
NOTE: The next two methods of engaging your audience are the strongest approaches you can use in your new business search.
3. Communicate with them—One of the most popular ways to engage your readers is to communicate with them. This may take the form of writing them an email, sending them a Tweet, reaching out via Evite, Constant Contact, or Survey Monkey, or making use of any other Social Media applications.
The point here is that you are reaching out and networking with contacts that may be able to help you with your job search. This is where you want to engage your audience. You want to interact with your Social Networking contacts to:
a. Seek helpful information and advice from them. Ask them about companies and people they think will be helpful to your business.
b. Get referred to a specific company or decision maker within that company.
c. Connect with the actual person who would be your future customer.
4. Educate them about you and your professional background—This is where you would highlight a career background snapshot on your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter profile page. These sites' profiles are an ideal place to showcase your mini pitch and professional branding.
Again, remember that less is better. You want to keep the information you highlight short and sweet, so that your contacts have to get in touch with you to obtain more information. Then you have succeeded in engaging them.
Also remember to ask them if there is any way you can help. I often see people who, while asking me for my help, graciously offer to return the favor by giving me access to their contacts for my own searches.
The goal here is to use these tools to educate others, be it friends, contacts, prospective employees, or anyone you can reach out to with which you can share your professional background.