For every person whose business has doubled thanks to social media, another 50 are wondering what all the fuss is about. I know lots of people who spend time online, but many fewer who have yet come close to growing their business thanks to their online activities.
Here’s the reality: social media is the best sales and marketing tool ever invented, but only if you don’t treat it as a sales and marketing tool. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but people hire people they like; social media is a wonderful way to expand the universe of people who like you, and vice versa.
To make your life easier and your bank account a bit more uplifting, here are four principles I keep in mind every single day. If you can adopt them as your own, you will be delighted with what happens next.
Kindness First: To succeed on social media, focus on two words: help others. Start your day by being kind to other people… share their content with your network, introduce them to others, and focus on serving, not selling.
Yes, in the long run this will grow your business. (The long run is months, not years.)
► Every morning – first thing – do something kind for other people.
Be Provocative: Online, fuzzy ideas get ignored. People have no time for “on the one hand, but on the other hand” articles. Take a position; don’t waffle.
But at the same time, be sure to challenge ideas, not people. Your goal is to start an intelligent conversation, not to insult or belittle others. If in doubt about which one you are about to do, be silent.
But when you have a catchy way to spark a discussion, go for it.
► Use short headlines and powerful images to capture attention.
Be Memorable: Good social media articles and posts have ONE point. They are short and highly focused. For example, a LinkedIn article should be 500 to 600 words long. Any shorter and your piece will be more like an update than an article; any longer and people will not finish it.
Write in the active voice. Make stuff happen, instead of describing how something is being done to something by someone else.
► Be personable and personal (i.e. use the word “you”).
Interact Online: Would you invite 35 people to a party, then not show up at your own party? No way. Whenever you post something online, check for comments and shares. Then respond to the comments that deserve a response.
Two tips in this regard: first, don’t ever respond to trolls. These are people who, for one reason or another, are angry at the world and are trying to take it out on you. Second, don’t respond to every comment; this makes you look desperate for comments. Just pick a few of the best, and respond. But read every word of every comment, and you may choose to respond to some offline.
If you do this right, your posts will attract interesting and important people. This is your chance to start a conversation that benefits you both.
► Reach out to loose connections publicly, not privately. Comment on their posts, send them emails to compliment their work, tweet questions (and answers) at them.