One of the biggest criticisms of social media is the amount of time it appears to take to get involved in it. The platforms may be ‘free’ to use, but time is money and definitely a roadblock to companies getting involved, especially when there’s not a lot of hard evidence of the ROI, especially for B2Bs. However, we believe social media activity is important as part of a complete marketing map. And, with a little planning, it doesn’t have to be a big time suck for B2Bs.
The most time needs to be spent up front, setting everything up. While I’m about to tell you to find a platform you like and can commit to, I would still set up accounts on all of the big ones, and even the little ones. Why? You want to at least own the user name. And, cross-linking software makes it much easier to appear to be active on all of them, while you really focus on one. For example: when you update your status on LinkedIn, you can make it so it goes out on Twitter as well.
So say you choose LinkedIn, you do need to take the time to fully fill out your profile. It’s important to have a photo and as much (professional) information as you are willing to share to help people find you. You can even use description areas to plant key words related to your industry that strangers may search on and have even more to find you. Then, you need to take time to look for people you know. Pull out that rolodex and search for, then connect with everyone you know.
Tip: when connecting with someone you have to choose how you know them. Choose the truth. I don’t like it when some guy across the world tries to connect with me saying we’ve done business together at his company and I’ve never heard of them.
Care and Feeding Schedule
After the initial time investment, you can schedule maybe three to four 15 minute slots every week to do the following:
- Connect with more people – Either search for people you’ve met since initial set-up, or look at the ‘people you may know’ list, where LinkedIn makes suggestions based on your connections and their connections. You’d be amazed how many additional people you’ll find here you’d never thought of or haven’t seen in years.
- Join two groups a week – there are tons of groups on LinkedIn. Look for ones where the people you want to connect with most might hang out. Some must approve you, some you can join right away. You determine how much email you want from that group; I recommend the weekly update.
- Participate in discussions – once in, read a few discussions and get a feel for the group. If you feel you have something to contribute, don’t be shy: participate. You’ll get a choice to follow this thread. I say do so for a while, you can always ‘leave this discussion.’
Every Time You Log In…
Each time you go to LinkedIn, check out your own home page. You’ll see a feed of all your connections’ activities. This can often provide easy inspiration for commenting in general or otherwise reaching out to someone. You can also get an idea of how many people are checking you out on the right side – a little ROI measurement.
Don’t Neglect Your Inbox
Also be sure to check your inbox and invitations. You know you’re doing good when people are seeking to connect with you and/or sending messages commenting on something you said or did. Just like email, you’ll get some stuff you don’t want. Ignore them, or ask them to stop sending you what you’re not interested in. When there’s a good relationship-building opportunity, or potential, take the time to chat back. You never know who’s one connection away.
What About the Others?
I used LinkedIn as my examples, but it would work similarly with Twitter and Facebook as well. Expect to spend time up front just setting up your profile and connecting with people. Then, look at how you can best use their features and create a care and feeding schedule around it. They say it takes time to see any ROI, but all that connecting can’t but feel positive right from the get-go.