Last week I talked about the importance of tailoring your proposal or demo to the needs of the client.
This week I’m taking it one step further. I will show you how you can apply the principle of personalization and customization to your social media presence.
In a moment, I’ll share some cool new tools you can use to spread the news about your business more efficiently and effectively. The end result: more fans for your Facebook page. A better search engine ranking. More hits for your website. Increased business.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I spend a lot of online time “socializing.” I blog, I tweet, I pin, I comment and I participate in discussions for at least an hour a day, if not more.
Now, level with me for a moment because I want your honest opinion.
Am I wasting my time on a magnificent distraction or could this be beneficial for my business?
While you think about that, I’ll tell you how I see it.
Social Media are tools. Tools aren’t inherently good or bad. It depends on how they are used, by whom, to what end and what the ultimate return on investment is.
Professionally speaking, I don’t go online to play games, to save souls or to share what I’m making for dinner. Social Media are part of my “undercover” marketing strategy. If you’ve read my recent article on undercover marketing, you know what I mean by that:
Any activity that helps you find clients and helps clients find you
Here’s my golden rule: You want to spend most of your marketing time and money where your market is. In my case, that’s online.
If you’re in the same boat, it’s wise to:
- have many ways to be found and drive traffic to your website
- share and promote compelling content and services
- create opportunities for clients to get to know you and interact with you
WHY JOIN THE MASSES?
At this point you might say: “I already have a website. Why should I join Google+, Pinterest and Twitter? I have enough on my plate.”
First off, counting on your website to bring in business is a very passive approach. You’re asking the world to come to you and the world is lazy and doesn’t know where to find you. If you don’t make any noise, no one will hear you.
Secondly, most websites aren’t very social. They offer static content and very little opportunity for interaction (more about sites in: Why Your Website Stinks). Search engines hate that, and so do your clients and fans.
Places like Facebook and LinkedIn on the other hand, are buzzing with activity and offer amazing opportunities to proactively build a network, strike up a conversation and -eventually- take people to your store.
Remember: the purpose of this strategy is not to sell anything. You’re just building relationships. Facebook friends might become clients. Clients become fans. And eventually, your fans will do some of the marketing for you.
Here’s what I really like about Social Media: most of these platforms are (still) FREE! All you need to invest is a bit of time, energy and creativity. The returns could be tremendous.
There’s just one caveat. It’s easy to personalize your own website. It’s a bit more challenging to give generic sites such as Twitter and Facebook a personal and professional touch. In order to do that, let’s take one step back.
DESIGN YOUR IMAGE
First you have to create an overall look for your business in general and your website in particular; something that’s instantaneously recognizable. In my case it’s the color scheme of orange and dark gray, as well as the picture of me with the orange tulips.
Then you consistently use your look across multiple platforms.
One way of doing that is by creating a Gravatar. That’s short for Globally Recognized Avatar. A Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site. It appears beside your name when you do things like comment on a blog.
Using a Gravatar reinforces your image, it creates a connection with the reader and it increases your credibility.
Content spammers usually don’t use Gravatars, so, having one identifies you as a genuine, trustworthy contributor. Besides, it makes you look much more personable.
So, how do you create a Gravatar? Click on this link and follow the instructions. It’s quick and it’s easy.
Whenever you go online, this image of me and my orange tulips will pop up. Once people make it to my website (the ultimate goal) they get a feeling of familiarity because they’ve seen it before.
Let’s look at my Twitter profile:
There are two other things I did to customize this profile. I added a hyperlink to my 160 character bio. It leads to one of my demos. Now, my over 2200 Twitter followers can hear what I sound like, and all it takes is one click.
Here’s the second part. Normally, the full link to that demo would look like this:
It wouldn’t fit into my bio, but luckily SoundCloud can give you an abbreviated version that looks like this: http://snd.sc/KyX8oJ. You could also use a service like tiny url or bit.ly to shorten your links. Before you do that, there’s something you should know.
Internet users have become increasingly suspicious of these shortlinks because you can’t really tell where they originate from. With so much harmful and useless crap floating around in cyberspace, people are more inclined to click on links they can identify and trust.
So, how did I create a shortlink to one of my SoundCloud files that incorporates the url of my website and looks like this?
I used a WordPress plugin called Pretty Link. Once installed, it will appear on your dashboard and allow you to generate shortlinks for all kinds of online content. This is what the window of the Pretty Link admin area looks like. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
SOUNDCLOUD & PINTEREST
As you can see, I am visually and virtually connecting some of the content sharing sites people can find me on: Twitter, SoundCloud and Nethervoice. That way, they can cross-pollinate. It’s all about the sum of the parts.
If you’re not terribly familiar with SoundCloud, it’s kind of a YouTube for audio recordings.
All the embedded demos on this site are stored in SoundCloud. As you can see, the audio tracks are depicted as waveforms and listeners can easily download, distribute and comment.
It gets even better. Recently, SoundCloud introduced a new feature that makes it possible to “pin” your audio to your Pinterest boards.
When you click on a particular board, all the images on that board are displayed. Individual images can be “re-pinned,” liked on Facebook, emailed, embedded and shared on Twitter. But here’s the real magic: once you click on a particular photo, it becomes a link and you are taken to the site the photo is taken from. You can promote blog content by pinning it, YouTube videos as well as your SoundCloud demos.
Why is all of this relevant? Pinterest is popular and is said to drive more traffic to websites than Twitter.
HubSpot recently published “How to use Pinterest for Business” which will tell you everything you need to know about this exploding content sharing service.
So, are you ready to become a social butterfly, or do you still have reservations?
What have you done to spice up your social media profiles and increase your reach? Share your tips below and be sure to add a link to your website.
I have lots more tricks up my sleeve, and next time I’ll take you behind the scenes of this blog!
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice