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A Social Network Strategy for Sales

November 21, 2011, 2:11 am

What is a Social Network Strategy?

Exposure Elements discovered early that creating a social network strategy would be imperative to the success of our business.  A social network strategy is a plan that businesses should have in place to communicate with their clients and followers.   This plan should address the strengths of the various online social networking sites as each site offers different values that can be leveraged by business. 

Why have a Social Network Strategy?

In today's business communication environment often contact is limited with your clients due to demands on their time and availabilty.  While social networks can't replace the interaction needed to maintain healthy business relationships these tools, if used effectively, can bring your clients and followers closer to your business through regular participation.

Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, YouTube, and a personal blog

For the purpose of this blog we will consider the five we feel fit into a fairly complete general strategy.  They are Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, YouTube and a personal blog.

Why Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, YouTube, and a personal blog?

With the hundreds of social networking sites that are popping up today there there are five social networking services  that are broadly used.  These five should be the core of your social networking strategy but  may not be the only ones to consider.  Many of the social networking sites that are coming on line represent a much narrower focus, often towards a particular market sector or vertical market.  If market specific social networking sites have gained market share in your industry you should also probably consider those as well.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is the most widely used social networking site in the world.  According to Wikipedia, as of July 2011 there are 800 million registered users and growing daily.  More people are recoginizing that they can keep in contact with their friends, colleagues and clients very easily here. Facebook supports Images, video and other interactive elements that can draw people together that have things in common to share.

How to use Facebook effectively

Many internet applications and services have automated entries for Facebook.  These can save time and inform your followers of your activities as they relate to that application or service without the added effort of opening Facebook and manually entering an event.  Because of Facebook's broad following it creates the ideal platform for connecting with all of your clients.  The advantages can be two -fold.  First, you have an opportuntiy to dissiminate information on a regular basis keeping you and your company fresh in their minds.  Second,  you get the opportunity to keep up with your followers activities.  You learn about changes in their company that may affect your business and maybe even some personal details of the followers that choose to share these things in a capacity that may relate to your business (such as a death in the family or an upcoming vacation). 

What is Twitter?

Twitter was originally designed as an on line text messaging service that sent short blast messages out to followers that subscribe.  It has a 161 character limit to the data that can be posted in a single event.  Because of this format and the lack of interactive media it won't keep someones attention long if there isn't something of extreame value but their are alot of twitter users, especially in the mobile world so it can be a mistake to overlook twitter.  Conscise announcements to focused groups are the best use of twitter. 

How to use Twitter effectively

The messages format that twitter employs can be good for tactical follow up to specific groups of clients in a business environment, especially if those clients are on the go.   An example would be network technicians that need to be made aware of support announcements.   For this type of information establishing a twitter account can be really useful as it provides a short message that includes a link to an announcement.  Twitter can be a great method for announcing a new blog post.  Often your clients don't have time to check on your blog postings and may overlook a blog when it is intially posted but a follow "tweet" on twitter can be a great reminder that they should go back and read that blog posting. 

What is Linked In?

Linked in is the most business social network.  It often is used for posting resumes and for managing job searches but can be so much more than that.  Linked In creates social groups of people with similar interest based on the topic of the group and introduces you to the vast number of people that are freinds and followers of all of your contacts.    This element can expand your circle of influence to as much as 50 times your own circle of influence and maybe more.

How to use Linked In effectively

An effective way I have found to use Linked In is to get involved in these business networking groups.  While most users groups don't allow for directly soliciting sales they create a great opportunity to share your knowledge on a specific topic with many other professionals with similar interest.  By sharing your knowledge on these networks you can establishe yourself as a highly valued expert to people that you may want to work with or with people that can give you the hlep you need to get introduced to people you need to contact. 

Another way to use Linked in is as a vehicle for introductions to specific contacts that you are motivated to meet.  Often a friend or colleague in your circle of influence may know a person that you are trying to meet or can at least give you an entry into a company that you have identified as important for some reason or another.  Linked in identifies 2nd and 3rd level connections.  These are essentially your followers contacts representing 2nd level contacts and their contacts that represent the 3rd level of contacts.  Through Linked in's free service they identify 2nd level contacts and through paid plans they identify how you can connect with 3rd level contacts. 

Linked in also offers a variety of paid services that can introduce you to people identified in specific market sectors and geographic regions that can also be of assistance when trying to introduce yourself to a broad audience. 

What is YouTube?

In May 2011 YouTube announced that they were experiencing 3 billion YouTube videos viewed per day, a number that was up 50% over the previous year.  If these videos were distributed evenly over the world one in two persons would watch a YouTube Video EVERYDAY!   Many people find it much easier to absorb information through a video than through text so learning to take advantage of video and to be able to create effective videos is of incredible importance. 

How to use YouTube effectively

Creating presentations and easy to follow tutorials are highly used functions of YouTube.  Your clients can review these type videos over and over again until they have your message down.   YouTube is a native app on virtually all internet enabled mobile phones also so presentaitons that are stored on your YouTube channel can be extreamly beneficial for lunch meetings and impromptu meetings on the go.    Be careful though, YouTube video postings default to public viewing so unless you flag them as private and set up privacy rules everyone can see them. 

The first thing that you want to do when starting a YouTube campaign is to create a YouTube channel where your followers can readily access all of your videos and can view those videos without the distraction of other videos.  YouTube videos should be done over time instead of all at once for a couple of reasons.  First, the time drain in planning quality videos that will captivate your viewers takes time.  Second, as you complete videos and reflect on their successes or non-successes you will gain insight towards better videos.  And finally,  as with all social networking, creating YouTube Videos is an ongoing process focusing on product announcements, technical reviews, how to videos, and sometimes just a bit of humor to brighten a viewers day. 

What is a personal blog?

Personal blogs are the final and probably the most important element of a good social media strategy.  A blog is a website that is designed to share your thoughts and actions on a much deeper level than other social networking services.  A blog is series of articles that give interested persons a real insight into the knowledge and message that you want to share.  Typically these articles are 250-500 words instead of 50-75words and a picture although it is not uncommon for blog articles to have images or videos embedded in them.  They are a more personal message of you expressing details as you the writer see them. 

How a personal blog fits into the whole picture

Your blog is an opportunity for you to share your knowledge on much more complex subjects than you could work with effectively in other social networking sites.  In your blog you can share your approach or value proposition with your clients.  You can share your personal strategy for how you work with your clients.  This can be a hugely valuable thought process that couldn't practically be expressed verbally but could be made availble through a blog.

A blog article can be linked to a Facebook or Twitter blurb.  It can be referenced in a YouTube video as a place for a more indepth  explaination of the video content. 

How all five work together to offer a powerful social networking strategy.

Four of these five tools represent market share leaders in their respective social networking niche.  The fifth one, blogs, represent your thoughts in detail.  Each of the first four, should be considered pointers to blogs that offer more depth and detail to the Facebook, Twitter, Linked in or YouTube announcement.  As an implementer of social networking programs, find ways to tie your social networking tools together.  Cross marketing these different services will provide your readers and viewers with varied approaches to your message and enhance your engagement with your clients and interested parties.  Make sure to reference your business in your postings with a call to action for each posting clearly identifying actions that will move your reader or viewer in a specific direction.

Exposure Elements focuses on creating interactived internet marketing programs and content to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area real estate and business communities.  Through incredible photography, virtual tours and compelling mobile marketing programs we provide internet content in areas that meet emerging demands of web surfers and shoppers

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Exposure Elements
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Posted by by Stan Davis of Exposure Elements at 2:11 am