Social Media: Are You Actually Connecting With Your Connections?
Last fall, I made a commitment to start using social media to see if it would help grow our business. So we set a goal of increasing our LinkedIn connections from approximately 100 to 500 by December 31.
We had our high school student go through our Teneo database to cross reference with LinkedIn and send invitations to connect. One Sunday in November Shannon, our client services manager, realized that there had to be a way to have LinkedIn cross reference a database automatically. She decided to experiment with it and it worked. A LinkedIn invitation was automatically sent to all of the people who matched in our database. On the following Monday, we had over 100 new connects. The high school student was ecstatic with the quick progress!
Well, by December 24, we had done it—501 connections. Yeah! Goal achieved! The real question, though—did we generate any additional business? Nada! Zip! Zero!
When I reflect back on our social media strategy at that time, I can see that building LinkedIn connections was a good marketing goal, and we achieved it. Here's what was missing: we didn't put the time into having purposeful conversations with our new connections.
The week after Shannon experimented with the LinkedIn cross reference was a busy one for me, and I didn't have time to send out additional messages through LinkedIn. In other words—I didn't put time into building relationships with our connections. We were connected, and yet the connection didn't mean anything, because I wasn't engaging with all those people who had accepted my invitations.
Setting up social media accounts for marketing purposes is like setting up a booth at a trade show. The booth isn't going to sell anything—you are, through having purposeful conversations with your prospective clients who are walking the aisle. If you sit in your booth, silently ... waiting for people to connect with you ... well, I don't need to tell you what will happen. Potential clients, who are hoping to be engaged in conversation, will walk on by. One of my pet peeves is people who sit behind their trade show booth waiting for people to come to them, and that's actually what I just did with social media—well, we are all learning how to effectively use this new media!
Sometimes it sounds like social media marketing is the new silver bullet, the effortless way to build relationships and boost sales. But building relationships in the social media world takes time, trust and conversation, just like building relationships in the "real" world. It's not a silver bullet—it's one more tool in your toolkit.
If you engage in social media, take the time to offer your connections something of value. Share your knowledge. Share your perspective on topics of interest to your connections. Think about ways to build relationships with your connections. Most importantly, reach out and have purposeful conversations.
Thought Provoking Question: What type of conversations are you having with social media—and is it leading to more business for you?