Last month, I posted my thoughts about B2B Social Networking and some concerns I have about professionalism and the return on time investment. After admitting that I hadn’t really bought off on the whole concept, but was willing to test the waters, I had a bit of a revelation.
I’ve read that the best way to get started is slowly, and by watching what others are doing. So, in taking that advice, I signed up for Twitter, PitchEngine, and set up company pages for LinkedIn and Facebook as well as set up a company blog. Then it happened! I started paying attention to what other people were posting, looked for the benefit to their company, and got hooked!! I also realized this could get addictive, so I decided to limit myself to 30 minutes per day.
I can’t prove an ROI on my time yet, but I have to think if anyone is reading any of this, all it would take is just one little piece of information or a random connection which could lead a prospective customer to our company. Just like if you went to a Chamber of Commerce mixer or a cocktail party – you don’t go with the intention of closing a deal, but the point is, you just never know! And, like I mentioned in my last post on this topic, the benefit of social networking online is that you can do it from the comfort of your desk without the worry that you just dripped something down the front of your shirt, or wonder if there is something green stuck in your teeth.
I’ll keep you posted on our efforts, and when we do get business as a result, you’ll be the first to know. If you are already to get started with social media, here is what I would suggest to do it smart, and keep the time commitment manageable:
Phase 1: Get on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
Set up a LinkedIn account and start off by inviting a few business contacts who you also consider friends. Do the same with Facebook, but think business, not personal – use your professional e-mail address, not your personal one, and invite business contacts. Then, set up a Twitter account (again, think professional when you are setting up your user ID, not personal) and start following a few trusted Tweeters.
Watch and read only for at least 7 days. You’ll start to get a feel for what information adds value and what is a waste of time and how it all works.
Phase 2: Start sharing posts
When you are ready to start sharing, post something of value on all three accounts (t can be the same thing on all three).
Phase 3: Set up a blog
When you get to the point where you need more than 140 characters for your posts, consider setting up a blog (I chose WordPress). This will allow you to post articles, thoughts, etc. to the internet of any size, although we recommend keeping content short. Then you can simply post the title or short description on LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter with a link to your blog. If the URL is a long one, your blog should have a tool to shorten it, or use tinyurl.com.
Phase 4: Set up company pages and join groups
Once you are comfortable with Social Media and “get it”, set up your company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook, and join groups on LinkedIn for industries you serve.
Stay tuned for part 3 next month.