It's hard to focus this time of year. The days are longer, the jackets aren't coming out nearly as often, and we're counting down the minutes until that week-long vacation we've been looking forward to for the last 6 months finally arrives.
In just a month or two half of your office will be sick or on vacation pretty much every Friday until September. Skin tones will darken, and we'll be bouncing from one barbecue to another.
And then there's work... oh yeah, what's that again? "Work," you say?
Unfortunately, just because the kids are out of school, that doesn't mean we can check out at work for 3 months. It's business as usual, meaning, the bottom line isn't interested in hearing about summer vacations. And, if you're tasked with finding new clients because you work in sales or marketing, it's the time of year where your skills, patience, and fortitude are put to the test.
So, instead of imposing the usual "dialin' for dollars" routine, let's start the summer with something a little more inviting and barbecue-like, such as social media. Let's make sure to have a clear plan of attack though - one that is warm and cool at the same time, inviting, and comforting, just like the summer breeze.
HOW TO GET MORE CLIENTS THIS SUMMER USING SOCIAL MEDIA:
Let's talk about planning before summer-itis kicks into full gear, so your vacation isn't ruined by the nagging feeling that you have an empty pipeline and book of cold calls to deal with when you get back.
1: Get Social Media Management Tools
Okay, right off the bat, this screams anti-summer, anti-relaxation, and totally counterintuitive to the mission ahead (a new software???), but I promise you, it's not. Securing use of the proper social media management tools is just as important as the flight you choose to get to Maui - there are a lot of different options that will work - But you must choose one if you want to get past TSA.
Here are some features to look out for:
2: Don't even think about automation
Social media is about being social. I know that seems obvious to some, but many businesses are still out there trying to figure out how to assign a bot to this task, and they're missing the big picture. So, let me break down some concepts of social media ettiquette that should be understood and embraced, because it will play a significant role in your ability to succeed.
I don't know if you noticed or not, but in my tools advice, I didn't mention anything about automation. Yes, I said "scheduling," but not automation, because there's a big difference. The second you automate social media, you are breaking the single most important rule, which is to be social. Being "social" is not a punishment; it's awesome. So, why treat it like a chore? We learn about our customers with it. We're able to provide better customer service using it. We make real connections. We land more clients. And it doesn't even feel like work.
I can smell social media automation a mile a way. It's becoming so common that identifying a bot-driven email is 2nd nature for us LinkedIn and Twitter users - it's kind of like those emails we get from Prince's stuck in Africa offering millions in exchange for help getting out of the country. It's painful AND obvious, and the mere sight of it raises our blood pressure.
You'll start by getting an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from an attractive marketer (I was once hit up with Scarlette Johanson's twin sister) with 5-7 years of experience and zero to twenty endorsements from the same two people. Upon accepting the invite, an automated message is sent to you sometime within the next 48 hours. And it will go something like this:
"Hi, we're members of the same group on LinkedIn..."
It hurts just talking about it. It tells your prospects that you're checked out and their time isn't as important as yours. It also partners and aligns you with companies that use fake profiles using stock photos of models. It starts your relationship with that person based on a lie, and there's nothing summer breezy about that!
3: The rule of 10-4-1
While we're still talking about the vehicles and concepts we're using to arrive at our marketing destinations, let's talk about the rule of 10-4-1.
Again, social media marketing should be social in nature, so when we post, we must remember to share content written by others. Yes, we still want to use it to distribute our blog and the occassional advertisements, but curating should be at the top of the list, so let's look at a tried and true formula.
For every 15 posts:
- Curate 10 posts from other websites, blogs, or social posts.
- Distribute 4 of your company's blog
- Distribute 1 of your company's ads
How often you post is a different story altogether. Each platform has different rules of engagement, but the big 4 are simple. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ should only be a few times a day. Occassional off-peak hour posts are good but definitely tone them down outside of business hours. Twitter is a loud and crowded landscape. You must do the same to stay on top of the feeds, but if you hashtag, you'll curtail the need to post every 5 minutes.
Please don't post every five minutes. You'll never get to relax that way.
4: Reset your head
Try starting with empathy - If WE'RE this distracted by summer's splendor, then we must assume that our clients and future customers are too. And what's the last thing we want to deal with when we're in vacation mode? Try... stress.
Be empathetic. Think about what it is they want the most - a distraction... Only don't just give them a distraction. Give them something that benefits the business AND makes them feel like they're not working. Step into their shoes and communicate with them the way you want to be communicated with while you're on vacation.
5: Find the forums & folks to follow
Encourage your salespeople sign up for group forums on LinkedIn that will help fuel discussions with both peers and prospective clients. This is not about advertising, but about helping one another diagnose the problems our businesses are experiencing. From time to time they can also post your blogs to try and start discussions, and getting started with this early will help carry them through summer.
These discussions can last days, weeks, or months. Some even years!
Get your company on Twitter and find businesses you want to work with and follow them. Find industry influencers and follow them. Find your co-workers and past colleagues and follow them. It's proper ettiquette on Twitter to follow back or at least view the people who follow us to see if we want to follow them back.
Either way, you'll get people looking at your company with this simple action.
6: Distribute your brand
Now it's time to really take action with your social media. You're curating. You're following. But what about your brand? Do you have a company blog that you can share? Do you post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or Facebook? What about newsletters, articles, or other announcements that you can make available to the public? Try to keep the ads to a minimum if you can. Focus more on your blogs and downloadable content. Remember, 10-4-1...
You want your content to be interesting and follow the rules of social ettiquette, because you want your sales staff to feel confident in sharing it. Does it educate your buyers, and help them diagnose pain that your company can solve but offer DIY solutions and answers? It should, because this is how you get your employees to share it without forcing them to (which won't work), and it shows unity between the staff and employer. It's good for your brand because it's good for your sales AND customer retention.
That's right, this is one of the best ways to keep your customers engaged and even turn them into promoters. Imagine that... an army of customers promoting your business thanks to your social media distribution channels. Nice.
(need help convincing senior management to get behind your social media strategy? Share THIS!)
7: Follow more people
Don't stop rockin' the followin'! Invite, invite, invite!
8: Read more articles
This is victory three-fold.
1) You end up commenting on articles that many of your prospects are interested in and commenting on. It helps you gain visibility without going straight for the kill. It helps you find folks you can connect with and understand their problems in greater detail before pitching your services.
2) You learn a lot about your industry from other people's perspective. A lot of the folks posting or authoring those articles could actually be good clients or be able to refer some to you. Either way, it's a win.
3) It doesn't feel like work - You'll experience guilt AND relaxation because despite the way it feels, it's actually productive use of your time.
There is no doubt about it - Summer rules. This year it can rule AND generate new deals. Social media management services will help you get there if you jump on it early.