There’s no escaping it.
Social media is here to stay.
Many B2C brands are eyeballs-deep in digital content and brand-building on social media, but this new field of marketing might still seem completely foreign to industrial manufacturers or B2B companies.
Everyone seems to assume that social media manners are innately understood, so they leave the ‘rules of social media engagement’ unspoken. However, that leaves the door open for the uninitiated to accidentally commit taboos that can damage their brand or personal reputation online.
Many businesses would prefer not to take that risk…but then again, avoiding social media is also starting to be just as damaging to their brands.
If you know you need to start building your network on social media, these five steps will help you understand some of the basic etiquette in those uncharted waters.
Think of each social media platform as one big trade show. You’re walking around, engaging in conversations, making referrals, and building relationships.
To build a healthy reputation and network on social media, just follow these five steps:
- Create a compelling profile.
- Find and follow at least ten accounts.
- Engage in conversations.
- Tag others.
- In short…be helpful.
1. CREATE A COMPELLING PROFILE.
When you create a social media account – be it your company’s Twitter page or your own personal LinkedIn page – your very first step should be to fill out your profile in its entirety.
Your profile functions like your own little trade show booth where people can find out more about who you are and what you do.
A lot of social networks have default ‘background’ photos and multiple fields for information about yourself. Fill them. Don’t let your page stay empty and bland! A trade show booth without banners won’t generate much interest.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give information you don’t want to share (like a personal phone number, for example). However, if building your network on social media is important to you, then your profile needs to do a good job of introducing you.
The internet is full of interesting people. You need to be one of them– otherwise, people will pass you by for someone more engaging.
2. FIND AND FOLLOW AT LEAST TEN ACCOUNTS.
Step two of building your network on social media means…well, just that. Just because you’ve built your profile does not yet mean connections will automatically come to you. At trade shows, you don’t just linger at your own table– you also send out representatives to other booths, too.
If you want to acquire followers, you also should become a follower.
It doesn’t matter whether you start with ten people who already know you; ten brands you want to work with in the future; ten businesses that do the same thing you do; or a combination thereof. Find at least ten connections to surround yourself with. Why?
In many cases, on social media you get what you give. If you ‘follow’ your friends and let them know that you’re looking for followers, they’ll often follow you back.
When you get on any social media platform, you will see content on the homepage that was created by the pages and people that you follow. Your goal is to eventually connect with people who will then see your content when they get online.
3. ENGAGE IN CONVERSATIONS.
Whenever someone shares a piece of content on social media, they are – in short – attempting to start a conversation. Every single post is its own topic.
Even if you can’t create much content of your own yet, you can still contribute to a lot of discussions.
After you’ve set up your profile and connected with other accounts, you’ll start to see their posts when you get online. Watch their videos or read their articles, and then leave a response.
Just be sure that, before you publish your comment, you ask yourself:
- Is my input relevant to the post where I am leaving my comment?
- Is my comment furthering this conversation?
Believe it or not, those two questions can prevent a lot of awkward interactions– amongst both your personal and your professional networks. Posts are standalone conversation starters, but comments are always connected to the posts where they were originally made.
You also shouldn’t add comments merely to sell yourself or drive people to your own profile. It’s very rude. Self-promotion is what your own content is for. When engaging with other people on their posts, you should respect that this is their conversation, and you shouldn’t be trying to take over.
4. TAG OTHERS.
Whenever you start or engage in conversations on social media, you should always do your best to give credit where it’s due. Making referrals is a huge part of networking– both online and off.
Let’s say you’re talking about an important CNC technique that you learned from Joe Bob Patterson. Before you publish your remark, take a moment to go and search the social platform to see if Joe Bob Patterson has an account. If he does, you should tag him!
If people were praising you or giving you shout-outs on social media, you’d want to know about it…and you would want interested parties to then be able to find you.
When giving props to other people or companies on social media, you should do the same for them. Don’t just mention someone by name without tagging them!! That means they won’t get invited to join the discussion.
Tagging an account creates a link between your post and the account you’re mentioning. Anyone who clicks on that link will be able to visit the profile of the people or company you were talking about. Furthermore, the account that you tagged will be notified about this, and then they can join in the conversation.
To tag an account, type the “@” symbol before you begin typing their user-name. It’s important to check the person or company’s profile before you do this, as their user-name and their actual name might be different.
If you can’t find an account for the person or company that you’re looking for, you can create a hashtag instead. Instead of starting with the “@” symbol, just start with the “#” symbol. These links won’t go to an account, but they will lead visitors to other posts that used the same hashtag.
Hashtags can also be helpful because they categorize what your comment or post is talking about. Many trade shows on social media might use a hashtag instead of an account.
5. IN SHORT…BE HELPFUL.
As mentioned earlier, social media is full of thousands and millions of accounts. You are one person (or company) in a vast sea of options– and you’re not the only one building your network on social media. So how do you stand out and get seen?
Like any trade show or other networking event, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
When you create content, it needs to be useful for your prospects and provide value to them. If it isn’t, they simply won’t bother with you. They have plenty of other options to choose from.
And even if you’re not creating your own content yet, helpfulness will still set you apart from other accounts in your network.
When you start or engage in conversations, don’t do so with the intention of ending on a sales pitch. People can smell solicitors from a mile away. And (though this hopefully goes without saying) rude or angry remarks drive people away.
Relationships start with mutual respect and genuine helpfulness. Even if someone will never be your ideal buyer, their recommendation of you could bring along somebody who is. The more you sincerely engage with others on social media and make referrals to those you respect, the more your network will do the same for you.
Even if frequent content creation is not in your wheelhouse yet, social media can still be a powerful networking tool for you.
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