Don’t Let it Die! Tips to Feed and Grow Your Small Business Online Network – by Fred McMurray
Whether you have a child, a pet or a plant, you know that you have to give it attention and keep it fed and watered or it will be very unhappy, won’t grow and will eventually die. The same goes for your small business’s online network.
So how do you keep your online network happy and growing? Here are some tips that we have gathered while feeding our network and the networks of our clients.
1. Post and share content on a regular (daily) basis. Producing your own articles or videos can be a daunting task, especially for those of us who struggle with writing or appearing on camera. However, we have found that consistency and frequency really does equal visibility, so when you can’t produce your own content, share someone else’s. The idea is to share articles and other items that provide value to your followers. Let the choice of content that you share reflect your company’s culture, mission, vision, and sense of humor. It is a good idea, however, to give your own thoughts when you’re sharing someone else’s content, and of course, give credit where it’s due.
If you want to save time, try using a site like HootSuite, TweetDeck or Dlvr.it. You’ll be able to share content to different sites from one interface.
2. Interact and acknowledge. All too often, we see small businesses do “hit and run” posting. They’ll post something, which is great, but then they don’t bother to acknowledge when someone makes a comment or shares it out. A classic example is a community bank in our area that asked people to go on their Facebook page and write about their favorite tellers. This was a great idea, but not one person (and there were a LOT of comments–they must have some great tellers) who wrote on the bank’s wall was acknowledged in any way. No likes, no thank you’s, nothing. Next time the bank decides to do something like that, they will probably get a less than enthusiastic response.
Besides acknowledging when someone makes a comment or retweets your own content, etc., it’s also a good plan to initiate some comments, retweets and likes. Not doing so fits the definition of “hit and run” posting.
3. Add connections every week. Whether you’re using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or another social site, you need to be increasing your friends and following on a weekly or even daily basis. Some may argue that it’s best to work the connections you already have, but we have found that it’s vital to expand your network if you have content (articles, videos, promotions) that you want to share in order to provide value and increase your visibility.
This doesn’t mean that you just add connections blindly, accepting every LinkedIn connection and following everyone who follows you. Growing a network does take time, effort and thoughtfulness. The point here is that you do need to keep it growing regularly, so schedule in some time to seek out connections. New connections mean new points of view, new information and new content. They also mean the potential for more people to share out your articles, videos and news to their networks.
4. Have a plan. Whether you’re the social media “expert” in your small business, or you are able to give the task to someone else, you want to have a plan of action. Morgan Miller Plumbing in Kansas City has seen great success with using social media, and the owner, Jeff Morgan, set a goal to post a blog on the company website once per week. His office staff members begin bugging him the Friday before to get his article written so that they can post it and share it with their network. Having this goal in place focuses everyone to think about their customers and target market, the industry and what’s happening within the company.
How do YOU keep your small business’s online network from dying? We’d love to hear about it!
Fred McMurray is a champion of social media for B2B companies and the CTO of Mediavine Marketing, a social media marketing company in the Chicagoland area with clients all over the world. Fred is also an internet radio show host. His show, LLN Reports, interviews Not-for-Profits and local, national and international business leaders about the topics of the day. Fred is the co-founder of the Linked Local Network, which is a grassroots effort to distribute news, information, events and content based on targeted geographic and topical areas through social media. Fred is an Entrepreneur, speaker and blogger on social media topics for small business. Fred has co-developed the Digital Dominance Index Methodology for measuring the growth of a digital/social media presence. In addition, he was an early adopter of LinkedIn in 2003 and has worked on developing models for the development and growth of social media communities. He continues advanced research on the development of syndication peer networks for small/mid-sized businesses and non-profits.
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