It’s not uncommon for me to get emails from folks asking, “What’s the point of social media? Isn’t it really just a big time-waster?” The micro-entrepreneur community struggles from time to time to see the real payoff of leveraging social media, most especially because, when you’re in business for yourself, you’re fulfilling so many roles that adding one more thing can be challenging. But here’s the thing: social media is fun, and leveraged properly, it can be profitable.
Why Fun and Profit?
Listen, it’s important to have fun when you’re an entrepreneur. Does that mean you spend all day, chatting with your old high school friends on Facebook? Noooo, probably not. I don’t mean that kind of fun.
What makes social media fun is that you connect with your audience and those who inspire you in an entirely different way than you normally would- a social way. Connecting with other human beings on a human level is what makes it fun.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised by the humor and silliness of those I admire and respect. Every once in awhile, I catch a bestselling author or a celebrity entrepreneur talking about something cool on Twitter and chime in, and they tweet back. This often results in crazy, silly dialogue that can ultimately turn into something cool for my business. I’ve tweeted with quite a few notables who, after getting to know me in this fun, relaxed way, agreed to let me interview them on my radio show, Business in Blue Jeans Radio. And, many folks who’ve approached me on Twitter, in what’s mostly a “safe space” to ask business-related questions, decided to become clients, once they saw I was a real, down-to-earth person.
Whether you’re looking for clients, mentors, or just general visibility, networking is a social game, which is why social media works. But it has to be done the right way to be effectively fun and profitable.
What’s The Right Way?
I’m going to break down the way I do social media.
Create Lists and Look for Opportunities
First, I create lists. I have lists of people I admire and want to connect with, people I find intriguing and interesting, people I want to learn from, etc. And I watch those lists. I retweet anything I find useful and interesting that people on my lists share. I also respond when they post something that makes me laugh or something that I have something to say about. I look for opportunities to interact with them and communicate. And most importantly, I look for ways I can contribute to them.
Be Personal, But With Balance
I draw a fine line between personal and professional. It’s really a tricky balance. Things I’ll never discuss in social media: religion, politics, my personal finances, and anything too personal that goes on in my family. I’ll talk about how much I love my husband and how awesome he is, and I’ll talk in generalities about our comings and goings, but never anything that betrays a confidence or gives potential burglars a chance to come in and rob us when we’re out traveling the world.
Share Your Content, But Judiciously
Every time I post in my blog, whether it’s here or on SusanBaroncini-Moe.com , I’ll share the link. On Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and StumbleUpon, I’ll share the link one time. On Facebook, I share other stuff, too, and try to create dialogue, so the links blend nicely in with my other content. On Pinterest, I share lots of other cool stuff (in fact, you’ll learn far more about my personal interests on Pinterest than anywhere else), so my links don’t overwhelm there, either.
On Twitter, because the feed moves so quickly, I’ll share my links more than once, but never enough to be annoying. And I’m only somewhat annoying when I’m heavily promoting a live training or an event. And since I share so much other content- links to other people’s stuff, retweets, and conversation, my links aren’t as annoying.
That’s really the key- blending your content promotion in with promoting other people and conversation. Blend well and you’ll stay out of trouble and avoid the curse of being annoying and overwhelming. And ultimately, you’ll be leveraging social media for fun and profit.
Here’s the bottom line…
As my friend and mentor, Bob Burg, says, people like doing business with people. And as my pal Brian Halligan says, we no longer live in a world where broadcasting your marketing message and using social media like advertising in a one-way conversation is acceptable. So get into the conversation and start blending what you share, and you should be making friends, having fun, and growing your business at the same time.