When some professionals ask me for tips and advise, they usually focus on the very social media platforms. They are looking for tricks on how to better use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. As soon as I ask a couple of discovery questions, I immediately realise they have another problem: they don’t know what to talk about (their value proposition online). The platforms are just the tip of the iceberg.
I remember working with a commercial real estate firm that made big plans for a new property events website and then, it came the time to “do social media” (afterthought). They wanted to master all platforms simply because they didn’t know better and also because they saw social networks as mere distribution channels. From that perspective, it makes sense: “…all marketing and PR stuff that we have there, we simply push it here too“. No one is going to ban you from doing that but it will get old very fast and you will be soon thinking that the reason why there’s no engagement is because “there’s something you’re doing wrong when managing the platforms.”
A useful starting point
What does your network offer? How does it solve people’s problems? What kind of problems?
A company blog is the easiest way to get started (not a news wall). If you write content that at least tackles the three questions above, you will be serving your audience with something useful, nuggets of advice that will help them make better decisions (whenever they’re ready).
Think also about where your prospects and customers are. We recently did an audit for a recruitment firm who often runs open days and fairs and almost non of their potential candidates were on Twitter and Facebook but on LinkedIn instead. Guess what? They saved a lot of time by avoiding any Twitter/Facebook tactics. They only spent their limited resources where their audience currently is. That’s part of traditional marketing so even professionals not very familiar with social media should be comfortable with that.
A recent situation
Last week I met a network manager that asked me for tips on Facebook. They’re expanding their events to other countries and they were looking to gain reach. I asked: “Is there any reason in particular why you would think that Facebook can do that for you only?”
The solution came by having clear what’s their main subject and what they offer, through content. For example, what’s going on in each event? Network managers should squeeze every minute of event time to generate content, specially because then, they don’t have to plan separate activities to create it
- Are you bringing a speaker? Get your Flip camera and record the session. Maybe do a short 3-minute interview before the event so there’s almost nothing to edit and you can upload the video to YouTube and have it available for your community the same night or the day after!
- Go through the attendee list and based on the theme of the event, select people to do testimonials about a specific subject or simply about the event itself.
- Have a dedicated photo hub such as FlickR, however if Facebook is very important for your efforts, upload pictures to both platforms. The benefit is that through FlickR is very easy to have all photo material organised and with Facebook, easier to spread the word by tagging members of your group.
- The more you know your attendees (community) the better you will remember what they do and therefore you can give them a public plug offline and online. Have they write a guest post on your blog! Then you’ll distribute it through your outposts (“shop keepers” as @ChrisBrogan would say) and they will do the same through theirs.
- Have a dedicated video hub such as YouTube. I also recommend that you upload selected video content in parallel to your Facebook page. Visual content is the best food for your Facebook fans.
- If your event managing platform is Meetup.com, proactively ask a few members to leave feedback, visible to the group’s page. Tip: I’ve seen a few groups grow a community with Meetup.com and then switch over to their own “social site” made with Jing or SocialGo and never took off. You might want to keep it simple with Meetup or your own platform if you started there.
What other tactics have worked for you to succesfully promote your network?