You would never walk into a networking event and just start handing out business cards blindly, right? Pushing your products or services on social media is the same thing. Just like at live networking groups, you want to get into conversations with people first. Social media is not an advertising tool— it’s a relationship-building tool and it’s tremendously effective when done correctly. Instead of thinking about what you can sell, think about the time you invest in social media as your own private networking event.
Listening and finding relevant conversations to join on social media will quickly advance your status as an expert in your field and as a generous business professional. Engage people in conversations and display a supportive and knowledgeable online presence. These qualities will attract like-minded people and their friends. The group of people that you attract will include: JV partners, the media and clients.
See where I am going with this? By engaging and sharing your brilliance, you will grow a very targeted network that will multiply on its own. This network will give back to you as long as you keep feeding it with more of the same.
But how do you find the right conversations on social media? The key is identifying the right hashtags to follow. By now just about everyone knows what a hashtag is, even if they are confused as to how they work. I want to help you to understand the true value of hashtags and why you cannot successfully participate in social media without them.
Simply put, it is a # symbol combined with a word or phrase. Typically they call out an event, topic or a conversation. What they do behind-the-scenes on social media is gather people with a common interest around a conversation.
These iconic symbols anchor conversations–they are the campfire people gather around to share ideas and stories. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
Here is what I advise my clients on how to get started with a Hashtag Strategy that finds conversations and builds relationships. Start by making a list of:
- 5 influencers (who do you want to be in your business)
- 5 competitors or people that are just out of your reach
- 5 media professionals that you would like to report on you
If you cannot come up with five, no worries, once you dive into this exercise your list will grow.
Check them out online, see what they are talking about, the people they are connected to, what they are reading/watching and most importantly the hashtags they are using. These are their topics, their categories and in many cases they have researched these words extensively. If you happen to have the same target market, these conversations will likely serve you well and allow you to expand your reach online and build relationships.
The Relationship is the Goal
Once you have found these nuggets of online gold, it’s to time to engage in a conversation online. Connect with these people as you would face-to-face. Not very many people are doing this well. You will be in the minority and will quickly increase and expand your online presence. This will change everything.
You will find opportunities you never imagined will easily come your way and learn that the possibilities are endless.
The Practical Stuff
There are a few things you need to know:
- To effectively find and track conversations, you need a social media management tool. There are plenty of fine options available, but I use HootSuite. Here is a blog post that I wrote than gives you greater detail: http://socialsagepr.com/listen-social-media/
- Two tools that I use to help find the best hashtags:
- Many of the tasks related to social media can be outsourced to an employee or a team member, but if it is your business, you MUST maintain ownership of the strategy, conversation and relationship building. Get over the fear and face the fact that this is how business is conducted, if you are not there, someone else will be.
- Have fun! Every single day something unexpected happens to me because of social media—and it’s usually good.
Do you have a great social media story to share? Please post below.
Donna Cravotta is the CEO of Social Sage PR and the creator of the Total Social PR System™ and Publicity Prowess™. She helps entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses maximize their online presence with a very different approach to social media and public relations. Her commitment is to ensure that her clients are empowered to amplify their unique voice and share their purpose, without overwhelming their schedules.
A natural connector of people and a relationship builder long before Facebook even existed, Donna has created a simple, yet strategic method to reveal hidden opportunities online that create authentic situations for her clients to grow their networks, gain loyal followers, connect with the media, and do it all with ease.
Donna knows a thing or two about creative (and cost-effective) social media and online strategy, the best part is… she teaches her clients how to build these strategies into their own businesses in an ongoing and sustainable way. Her techniques can be easily implemented in just a few minutes each day to create valuable business connections, resulting in lasting relationships that lead to mind-blowing opportunities and endless possibilities.
You can reach Donna at SocialSagePR.com.