Recently I talked to a friend who is thinking of taking over a small online business startup. She said, “if I do this startup thing, I need to talk to you. As you know, I am so totally not into Facebook and such.”
A few minutes later she told me about her teenage son who is obviously in a science and experimenting phase. He finds a lot of experiments and explanations on Youtube which he then tries out for himself at home, like how to cut a glass bottle without a glass cutter or how to melt metal.
And I realized how much my generation or even people a little older who did not grow up with social media are missing out for the simple reason that they do not know what they can do with all that “Facebook and such”. And I am not at all talking about only marketing reasons. Yes, I signed up for Facebook a few years back because I co-founded a startup, but the main reason for me to be on Facebook is not marketing – I am doing most of that on other social networks 🙂
Here are 11 ideas for using social media.
This is the one reason why I used Social Media before I started my own company: To stay in touch with people or even connect to new people. I used LinkedIn (or the German Language equivalent Xing) as an automatically updated address book. This way I always have the option to get in touch with former colleagues or fellow students.
This comes especially handy since I worked for some companies in other cities. If I visit the area, I can easily get back in touch and ask if some of my old acquaintances would be up for dinner or coffee while I am around.
Even better for staying in touch for me is Facebook. While networking in the startup community, I met quite a lot of people from all around the world. On Facebook, I do not lose the connection completely. I can communicate on an unintrusive level. I see what they are up to and once in a while talking to some of them in comments.
2. Get in Touch
I have not only made new friends in Social Media. I have also used various social media platforms to get in touch with people I did not know before. Especially on Twitter, a short tweet can open doors. Whether it is asking for a guest blogging opportunity or cooperation, talking to an influencer, or asking for advice, Twitter proved to be an easy and uncomplicated way of starting a conversation which you then can move on to email or skype.
3. Build an Audience
There is no doubt about it that Social Media is a great place to build an audience for yourself and your business. It is your following that listens to you and stays with you. If done right, you can start, nurture and grow an audience for various purposes with Social Media – and it is your audience to utilize over and over again.
Social networking sites allow any business or freelancer to market their business with a very low budget.
4. Build a brand and a brand reputation
Great work in Social Media can help you paint a picture of yourself and your business that you want the world to have. You can influence how you are perceived and monitor what people say about you.
In today’s social media world, there are influencers who never influenced anywhere else than on these social media sites.
5. Increase brand awareness
By building an audience for your brand, you can also increase brand awareness. Social Media for business can be a great equalizer where money does not always win over great branding. With a little knowledge and endurance, you have the power to compete with huge brands by simply getting it right.
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6. Do Research
Most social networks have a great search engine that helps you find the right content and information for almost any topic. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook – you name it, whatever topic and type of content you are looking for: choose the right network and you are certain to find what you are looking for.
As mentioned in the preamble, even teenagers can find a ton of valuable information – not only for their homework or studies but also some great experiments and how-to videos. It is not all just chit chat what is going on. Social Media is gaining on Google as the go-to place for research.
7. Keep informed
Do you want to stay up to date on what is happening in your niche? Follow the influencers, competitors and partners, listen to them, check what they share and join conversations. There is almost no better way to get all the important news and ideas and stay in touch with the topic and the people talking about it. Twitter is a great network for this. Facebook also does a good job if you follow the right Fanpages and your niche is active on Facebook.
8. Build a Relationship
You cannot only keep in touch with people via social media. I have made some acquaintances on social networks that feel like friendships even though we have never met in person. These relationships are a great starting point for taking the conversation to the next level, either meet in person at an event or for coffee or take the dogs for a walk.
Social Media and networking sites are great for building relationships.
Social media marketing is a great “tool” to get traffic to your content, blog or website. Once you are building your audience, you can share valuable information – or links to the information which you publish on your own website or blog. Interested followers will gladly click on the shared links and thus become visitors to your website (=traffic).
Social media has been the key to traffic success for many blogs.
10. Build an email list
Yes, you can transfer social media contacts to your email list. And you should, too. Either you offer a lead magnet (some piece of valuable information) people can download in exchange for their email address directly on your social media accounts, or you get people to your website and offer a lead magnet or a signup form there.
An audience in social media is usually not as valuable as subscribers to your email list. But you can use your social audience to help you build your email list faster. For instance, you can tweet about your lead magnet.
11. Get inspiration
Sometimes when I am running out of ideas for new blog posts, I simply browse around social media and see what others from my niche write about. Just seeing the content from others usually gives me a ton of new ideas on what to write about. That does not mean I copy anything; that is not the way to go. But I get inspiration and unanswered questions I can tackle in my next post.
Also, conversations, especially on Twitter, are often a great starting point for a new post. Jonathan has done that in a couple of his articles.
By not being on social media you are missing out. And while you sure should give a little of your personality, it is not at all necessary to put all your life online and for everyone to see and comment on. Even if you stay more or less silent, you can still profit in various ways from using social media.