Like most SME owners. I have been told that it is important to have an online presence so as not to lose any sales opportunities. True, 90% of our sales come from our online presence. More and more people make online purchases, look for online reviews and research online before they make up their mind. So, I have decided to include social media in the business strategy. A few years ago, I have been to a number of workshops about social media. I tried to use my notes to help me navigate the online landscape. In terms of business management, I tend to try out on my own first so that I understand the implications and build a working knowledge of it. When the time is right, I can then go and hire the person whom I think will fit with what I need.
Is Social Media a hype or is it truly something that can be leveraged in any business strategy?
I attended a talk by John Coupland, some years ago. He offered a number of practical tips. I bought his book: “ ACCELerate Your Social Media”, thinking that it may come useful. Like any typical business owner, I have allowed things to get in the way and focused more on operations rather than strategic vision. I opened the book very recently when I have been reviewing the marketing strategy of my business. It is the first time that mapping out a strategy that includes both online and offline networking strategies became reality. Within 2 months of implementing some of John’s tips, I am now seeing the results with increased sales leads.
John talks about “return on investment” – a measure that clearly indicates a results oriented approach. This is what he mainly preaches when it comes to an overall online strategy. He helps you determine the target Return On Investment and plan the strategy that will help you achieve it. In his book, John provides a number of tools to review your social media strategy and it actually helped me to identify the gaps that I need to address to make my online strategy more effective. Whatever works – replicate, replicate and replicate!
Integrating your social media strategy into your overall business strategy is critical. However, many people think that it is about having an online presence. It is goes beyond that. Engagement creates sales leads and strengthens your network. So, merging the offline with the online is crucial. Everything is about People First. Very few people follow up once you have accepted their request to be part of their Linkedin network. In many networking events, not many people would ask you what they can do for you… The reason to meet should be of potential benefit. “Great networking is about bringing the best out of people. If you achieve this, you will be bringing the best out of yourself too.”- John Coupland
It is difficult to engage with your network all at the same time and on a regular basis. So creating a “Core Network” that can add value and whom you can also support is recommended. The Core Network may account for only 20% of your whole network and will bring 80% positive results – the Pareto Principle.
Social media should be used as a means to support the other appropriate channels to market your business. John recommends to start with a couple of social networks. “Less Is More”. There are No “must have” social networks. As a business owner, this is very relevant as being in the driving seat means that you are overseeing the whole operations, thinking strategically and reviewing occasionally to assess your progress. Building strong relationships with your network is more effective in generating business rather than spreading your engagement too thinly across many. His next advice is “KISS” – Keep It Simple Stupid.
Also, networking is about leveraging the collective wisdom and experience. So, it is important to network not only with potential clients but also with experts in your industry too. Clarity and consistency is key in your communication. Your online presence across different social media network needs to be consistent.
Effective and great networking works when you
- Have a positive Attitude
- Think the bigger picture
- Are Creative
- Are giving
- Have a “Can Do” approach
As Anon says it well: “ if you want to be incrementally better, Be Competitive! If you want to be exponentially better, Be Cooperative!”