You've put social media buttons into your web design and established yourself as a must-read in your industry blogosphere. And I’ll bet you now have 300+ LinkedIn connections, a rocking Facebook Fan Page, and a huge Twitter following that loves your pithy, relevant tweets.
So you’ve got social media covered, right?
Maybe not. Social media is complex, and there are many little-known strategies that can give you an edge over your competitors—even once you’ve mastered the fundamentals. If you’re looking to give your business a boost, consider the following strategies to get ahead of the social media curve.
1. Use Video
Twitter and Facebook may be the mainstream marketing platforms, but video is grossly underused. It’s also underrated—video is a great way to personalize your business, reach out to your customers, and initiate dynamic conversations about your services.
Consider creating a YouTube channel for your company. Post video blogs, host contests, analyze products, and interview key stakeholders—customers, clients, or users—on camera. It’ll make your content (and your personality) stand out much more than that of your text-only competitors.
2. Ask Questions
At its core, social media is about initiating conversations, and in business, that means two-way exchanges between you and your customers. It’s not just about telling the world who you are: You can also use social media to learn about your customers, clients, and stakeholders.
Host polls and questionnaires on your blogs and Facebook pages. Tweet questions with strategically chosen hashtags. Ask for industry-specific advice and opinions on LinkedIn Groups. Then, use the information you’ve gathered to hone your business and meet your customers’ needs. For example, when people tell you in blog comments that they absolutely love your new spring line of accessories (but were lukewarm about winter’s neon scarves), you’ll feel more confident ordering next season’s inventory.
3. Consider Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing refers to the outsourcing of small, discrete tasks—say, naming a product, designing a logo, or creating a commercial—to a company’s consumers through an “open call.” Think: Pepsi Refresh. The most successful crowdsourced campaigns use social media to engage participants, stir up excitement, and spread the word about the project.
Not only does this strategy get the job done at a (very) low cost, but crowdsourcing also engages your customers and stakeholders and gives them the opportunity to participate in your business. So consider hosting a contest to design your new showcase window, or invite your customers to write your new tagline. Create media hype when you announce the winners (complete with a splashy prize and lots of fanfare) and not only do you emerge with real value, but you get more attention than you would had you simply done the work internally.
4. Get Sneaky
Did you know that you can join blogging clubs where members will reciprocally tweet each others’ posts? This lesser-known social media resource can help drive your business in a serious way—by tapping in to others’ virtual networks, you can extend your reach dramatically.
Another sneaky-but-helpful tactic: find out who’s been checking out your LinkedIn profile. If you know who’s reading up on your background, you can follow up with an email asking if they require your services. (Take it from me—it works. I’ve actually landed business that way!)
5. Hunker Down
The true value of any social media channel is realized over time. There’s no instant fix, no magic pill, because social media is about relationships.
So rather then desperately trying to grow your Twitter followers exponentially overnight, try to build long-term, organic relationships. Stay the course, deliver quality products and services, and use killer content to share your story—and you’re sure to see results.
What little-known social media strategies have you used successfully? We’d love to know—share your comments below!