by Tony Vidler
I’ve been using social media for business to market myself and my services for quite a while now, and it has totally helped. No doubt about it. Social media has been good for marketing my business and building a profile way beyond what I anticipated. The thing that many professionals simply do not get about it is the enormous leverage that a single action has. One blog post…one news feed…and thousands are reached in a personal medium. You just don’t get that impact from most other marketing mediums…and even for those where there is an element of virality they cannot duplicate the low/no cost of social media.
Leverage is the secret sauce for building a professional brand and presence, because that is how to create an exponentially growing audience, or pool of prospects. When you can leverage at almost no cost it becomes a no-brainer medium. The only cost in practical terms is “time”…the time for content creation and the time for engagement with the audience you are creating…and the time to build the trusted brand….
Pretty much everyone has found the hard way that it is hard graft building an interested audience of potential business prospects using traditional prospecting methods as the time and effort that is required to physically get out, press the flesh and meet people personally is enormous. Or the financial budget that replaces your personal time and effort is pretty damned significant.
Everyone also knows that it is so much easier when others are introducing your name, reputation and skills on your behalf – that is one of the key attractions of COI & referral marketing after all. No time to speak of and no money involved in that…excellent marketing medium. However, you can create even more powerful leverage than that local word-of-mouth marketing; you can create universal word-of-mouth using social media.
Digital publication of useful content.
It is the viral nature of digital publication which makes it incredible, IF the content is useful to your target audience. How else could a professional spend an hour to reach tens of thousands across the globe? Let’s look at a simple example of the virality of publishing useful content online, and just look at the power and reach of a single social media channel: Twitter.
For well over a decade I built a presence nationally here in little old New Zealand – not always intentionally mind you. A fair bit of it just happened because I got involved in some national issues and a couple of leadership roles. “Next minute” it seems I know thousands of other professionals in this country, and they know me to a degree, and that certainly changed my professional horizons and aspirations, and therefore my business focus. So I zero’d in on a target market with specific needs and starting producing content to engage them, and used digital delivery And it worked.
But then I switched on to social media, and this happened:
On Twitter alone there is an audience spanning over 90 countries of 13,000 or so….and that is remarkable reach when you consider only about 3% of them are in my home market. When one adds in the other social channels, blog and email marketing lists the audience goes to something like 23,000….which sort of blows me away really.
Not for a moment do I think that is rock star status or anything silly like that, and there are HEAPS of better proponents than I when it comes to building and engaging with an audience and then converting that into business opportunities than me. But there are lessons here for other professionals in terms of how to build reach.
What I have learned is that creating that reach….that audience…comes from using digital distribution of useful content. It helps if you think of it like being a publisher. When it comes to creation and “distribution” not all content has to be produced by in-house staff or journalists; similarly; not all content has to be created by you. In fact, not only does it not all have to be original content created by you, but it is actually better if it isn’t I’ve found. Your role is distribution..or curation of great ideas for your target market. Providing a range of thoughtful and insightful content provided by genuine thought leaders and giving those thought leaders full credit for it seems to actually enhance your desired position of being a trusted voice. It moves you beyond being just another “look at me” character and into the realm of trusted authority.
The “useful” part of the equation is perhaps the most challenging element of the equation. To generate interest and traction (build an audience) there must be a focus on delivering value. Your own content has to showcase your ability, and has to be practical enough that prospects want to stay tuned in to your channels.
Going digital and posting the content online through different channels and in a variety of formats is the last component for creating a viral strategy. While we are all online a lot, but none of us except the truly odd are online all the time. It is the same with our intended audience; they are not all online all the time. So producing useful content and continually distributing it along with useful content from others can not be a one time event if it is to be successful at growing an audience. There must be repetition and multiple distribution points to grow the audience, together with variety of formats. Some prefer to digest information in written form, some in video, some in audio and many in visual formats. Ideally one should produce content in a range of formats in order to generate the widest possible interest in core messages.
What I have learned on the personal marketing journey so far in the last few years is that the cornerstone strategy of adopting Digital publication of useful content generates genuine interest in you and your professional services. It generates real enquiries from people who wish to engage you and pay for your services. Using social media to broadcast it generates real interest, and converts to real clients and business, which generates real revenue.
There is no doubt that there is a pretty good commercial reason to embrace social media.
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