Here’s a rough script I used for this video if you prefer to read:
If you’re starting a business, one of the hardest aspects is finding your early customers. You don’t know what works for advertising. You may not be 100% certain who your ideal customers are. You just know that for your business to succeed, someone needs to buy your stuff.
You may not have a lot of capital, so one of the first things that comes to mind is social media. All of the people you already know are already on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so that’s the first place you go.
You make a Facebook page, you invite all of your friends to like your page, and that’s totally fine. Some people will like your Facebook page and some won’t. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but you’ll find that Facebook doesn’t give pages a lot of coverage, so you won’t get a lot of results from just having a Facebook page and posting on it. At the same time, you’re posting on your own Facebook profile because you’re already connected with all of your friends there. This is kind of the baseline for what everyone does for social media.
You can take it to the next level and be more effective with your social media marketing, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way is join different groups on Facebook and start posting about your business without actually participating in the community. Honestly, this is like walking into a crowded room at someone else’s event, handing everyone a flyer and leave without actually participating or contributing in any way. If your social media strategy is entirely “What can I get out of this community for myself?” without finding ways to contribute, you will inevitably fail.
The other wrong way to promote your business on social media is to start messaging people and asking them to buy your product. Facebook chat is not a business communication method. It’s a messaging tool for people to talk to their friends. If someone is expecting a friendly social message from you and the only reason why you’re messaging them is because you want to buy something, they’re probably not going to respond all that well. If you want to setup a sales meeting with someone, you don’t do it on Facebook messenger. You will invariably just annoy the person you’re trying to sell to. Do it through LinkedIn, email or a good old fashioned phone call.
Now, let’s talk about the right way to leverage social media. The key is to have conversations. Lots of one on one and person-to-person conversations. When someone is talking about anything related to your industry or your business, you talk to them. This doesn’t mean you try to sell to them right away, but you help them and have conversations. You do this over and over again and eventually you begin to develop a brand. This is what made Gary Vaynerchuck so famous. He had tens of thousands of social media exchanges with people over the years and answered literally every email, tweet and other message he received. Eventually, he became a social media sensation and a business guru because so many people had had a personal interaction with him.
I think one of the best ways to have conversations with people and grow your business on social media is to create a community that you curate on social media. I do this with the Entrepreneurs of Sioux Falls Facebook group. We have 5,700 local entrepreneurs that chat about business on a daily basis and I was the person that started that community and facilitates the discussion. This has given me a lot of credibility in the entrepreneurship community in Sioux Falls, so when I have an event to promote or a program I want people to sign-up for, I have a community that’s ready and interested to hear about it. I don’t have to go knock on doors because I already have a captive audience. And, since I provide people so much free value through that group, people don’t get upset when I periodically ask them to do something, such as come to 1 Million Cups or sign-up for a zeal event.
As long as you have a business that targets consumers, you can make your own online community that caters to your potential customers. If you’re a clothing boutique, maybe you create a community for women to discuss fashion. If you run the local bike store, you can make a Facebook group that facilitates meetups for people that want to get together and bike the trails on a Saturday morning. You just need to cater to the common interest of your potential customers. If there’s already an existing group, you don’t necessarily even need to make your own group. You can still contribute to an existing community in such a way that benefits the people in that community and in your own business. Again, the key is to have lots of helpful conversations with lots of people. If you’re the person that facilitates the community, that’s even better.