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Prospecting With Social Media: What You Need to Know

AK Stout, Contributor

Forget What You’ve Heard In order to get the most out of this article, you need to forget everything you’ve ever heard (or thought) about social media up to this point. Erase the idea that social media is a communication tool. Forget that “content is king” and that if you don’t have the most carefully crafted, engaging content – you can’t possibly swim in the social media pool. This article is not about how many times you should tweet per day, or whether pictures or plain text posts get the most reach on Facebook – in fact, I’m not even going to talk about using social media as a customer support tool. Nope – you won’t find any of that here. Why not? Because before you can worry about any of that other “stuff” that you’ve heard you can/should do with social media – you need to get people to know you and your business exist. If no one knows you’re there – nothing else matters. Why Social Media The beauty of social media is that it breaks down barriers between businesses and those with whom they desire to do business. This holds true whether you are in the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) space. Prior to social media, if you had products or services to sell to consumers – you placed ads in the Yellow Pages, sent out direct mail pieces, and paid top dollar for TV commercials. The problem with that approach was that you spent a ton of money to push your message out to everyone because there wasn’t a sure-fire way to strategically target those who were viable prospects. Even today with the availability of social media, there are still businesses that fail simply because they are still just pushing out messages and crossing their fingers that the right people will notice. That’s what I like to call leaving social media up to chance. So, I’m here to tell you, and to show you, that you don’t have to, nor should you, leave your social media marketing up to chance. akstout 11.30 Intentional Targeting First thing’s first. Put your best face forward. I’m about to tell you how you can get on the radar of the people who will one day turn into your customers. But it’s important to realize that as you work to get on their radar – they’re going to check you out, so you must make sure what they see is making the best possible impression. For each social channel that you opt to use – it is essential to optimize your profile from the very beginning. On Facebook include a profile picture (your business logo), an eye catching cover image, and fill out all possible fields in your info section. On Twitter, include an avatar picture (your business logo or a nice head shot , a carefully crafted 160 character bio letting people know what your business has to offer plus a call to action, your location (if you serve a specific geographic location), and your website URL. On LinkedIn include a nice head shot and follow LinkedIn’s suggestions to get your profile to 100% completeness. Next, identify your target customer. What are their interests? What kinds of things are they talking about? Where do they work? What is their role within the company for which they work? Etc. Don’t just think about these things – write them down. Once you have this list, go channel by channel and hunt these people down. For B2B companies, LinkedIn’s Advanced Search is going to be your most valuable tool. Search for people by company, job function, role, industry, etc – send them messages and request to connect. (*Hint – If someone’s profile is set up so that you can’t send them a message or connect with them without knowing their email address – look at their profile and join one of the groups to which they belong – then you can request to connect with them based on common group membership.) On Twitter, it’s likely you will find both business and consumer decision makers. The first place to start is locating your target customers based on how they have self-identified in their Twitter bios. While I know there are many out there, the tool I prefer for this task is FollowerWonk. Next, identify Twitter users by the words they tweet – use monitoring tools such as TweetDeck, HootSuite, and SproutSocial to see when people are tweeting about topics relevant to your products and services. Once you’ve found the users who you want to notice you – follow them, favorite their tweets, retweet them and reply to them to get on their radar. Each of those actions will send them an email notification that will contain your business information [from your Twitter profile]. For advanced prospecting on Twitter – add your target customers to private Twitter lists so you can categorize them and easily access them to work on developing deeper relationships going forward. Facebook prospecting is going to be more challenging than LinkedIn and Twitter because there isn’t a way for businesses to directly tap people on the shoulder. To get on the radar of your target customers on Facebook you have to determine on which other Facebook Business Pages they would be interacting and then use Facebook as your Business Page to go engage with those Pages – giving the fans on those Pages the opportunity to notice of your business name and logo. You can also tag other Facebook Business Pages in your Page’s posts to give your posts some visibility on those Pages but this doesn’t always work due to the settings of the other Pages and the structure of Facebook Timeline. All that being said – focus on LinkedIn and Twitter first – but don’t neglect Facebook despite its obstacles because some of your target customers may only be using Facebook. Never Stop Making Social Work for You You’re never going to stop working to strategically get on the radar of your target customers. Yes, once you begin to amass Facebook fans and Twitter followers it’s going to be important to have a content strategy in place. But the fact of the matter is – with all the feed noise going on these days, even if someone does “Like” your Facebook Page or follow you on Twitter – they still may never see your posts and could end up forgetting about you. It may only be through your proactive work of continuing to ping them individually with a LinkedIn message, a Twitter retweet or any of the various other methods we’ve discussed in this article that you can ensure your target customers know that you are there, what you offer, and that you’re open for business.
Tim Cooke

About the author: AK Stout

The R2i blog is a place for digital marketing and technology thought leaders to share their insights and perspective. We welcome contributions from experts in these areas and appreciate sharing fresh ideas, case studies, best practices, and innovations in online marketing. Interested in joining our esteemed group of guest bloggers? Send your ideas to marketing@r2integrated.com

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