Using communication skills to connect with co-workers, clients, and potential customers through social networking websites is a field where Nancy Marmolejo excels. Blending her experiences growing up in a family business, her history of teaching and her gift for communications, she created Viva Visibility, a coaching and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs generate more money and attention by positioning themselves in the spotlight. Marmolejo discusses social networking strategies in this LoveToKnow interview.
Top Five Mistakes to Avoid When Using Social Networking
Mistakes hamper effective communication. Lack of clarity is the single biggest mistake, according to Marmolejo. She says, "You've got to be clear on who you are and why you're there. Your profile needs to say who you are, what you do, who you work with, results people get, and warm, personal touch points. That's the recipe for a strong social networking profile. Do it in that order."
Give People Time To Know You
Marmolejo defined one of the worst mistakes as jumping right into "let's do business" mode. Give people time to get to know you before you start suggesting partnerships. "Social networking online works the same way," she explains. "Instead of a business card, you have your social networking profile. It doesn't matter where you have the social interaction - online, at a networking meeting, or at a Chamber of Commerce event. It's all about meeting people and getting to know them. The web just gives you access to a wider circle of people to meet."
Don't Be Inconsistent
You're building a brand through social networking, so be consistent. Be the same person on each site. Be consistent with your name, branding and expertise. Make sure your profiles are similar - expertise, occupation, photo. Don't have such wildly different profiles on various sites that people wonder if it's really you. Marmolejo has written a lot about the importance of profile pages on social networking sites.
"Your online social networking profile page is the place where potential customers meet you for the first time. Just as you wouldn't show up at a business dinner in your pajamas, you want to include a professional picture of yourself, smiling, looking right into the camera. Leave your vacation snapshots off the profile page," she said.
As for the profile itself, a business person needs to come up with a way to introduce what they do, who they work with, the results they get, and a warm touch point to give people a bit more. She explains, "I also like to include a link to a page on my website that I set up just for social networking. That way, I can give people more information about me without the space limitations most of the sites impose."
Avoid Heavy Sales Pitches
Focus first on adding value, gaining credibility and building trust. People will cycle their way into your marketing funnel if you take the slow and steady approach and attract customers. It's attraction marketing, not push marketing. You want to lay out information that draws people closer. You want people to follow the breadcrumb trail to move closer to you.
What Goes on the Web Stays on the Web
What you post stays out there for a long time - possibly forever. Watch your personal opinions and avoid rants, raves and sarcastic remarks. They can come back to haunt you. Reputation management is essential. There's no one essential social networking site that all business people must be on, but don't assume what you post on one may not affect your interactions on others. Negative actions can go viral and be shared across multiple sites.
Fail to Build Value
People sometimes think social networking should be all about business, or they go to the other extreme and think it's all about their personal lives. They get caught up in how many followers they have or how many friends they are connected to on the site. Focus on building value through the posts you make and the things you do. When you lead with value, you build a reputation and build a following--and that leads to building your business.
Choosing a Social Networking Site
There is no one essential social networking site that all business people must be on. Each site has a different personality. Marmolejo advises individuals to check their comfort level and willingness to learn how to maximize at least one platform.
"Learn everything you can about one platform or else you will get overwhelmed. You can pretty much learn all you need to know in one evening just playing with the site. Lots of people write about the technical details of the social networking sites, so the information is out there," she said. "Find out where your market hangs out. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - you've got to go where your potential customers hang out."
"Some people say everyone should be on Twitter. Twitter isn't for everyone. A lot of people can't wrap their heads around Twitter. They get frustrated," said Marmolejo. "But you know what? At the end of the day, you should choose only those on which you feel comfortable It's better to do one online social network well than to be everywhere and do it poorly," she said. Compare the social media networks for topic strength and use prior to launching an online campaign.
Blogs are Great
Don't forget about the basic strength of a blog. "They let you show off your writing, and people can get to know you through you writing." Marmolejo is an enthusiastic blogger. "It gave people a way to get to know me in a less formal way than my corporate brochures and more formal stuff."
"Blogs are also interactive. People post comments, and share blog posts with others. That transforms it into viral marketing. In 2005, I learned about pod casting, and I began making pod casts. They were a great tool to get my name out there in a different way. Soon after that, a friend encouraged me to try MySpace for business. She was an author and was having tremendous success. I had all sorts of misconceptions - I thought it was for teenagers. It was after I started using MySpace that I had a revelation." Marmolejo emphasized. "Social networking isn't just for kids - it's just networking online."
Successful social media interactions can generate new business, build a reputation, and help you increase your market share.
Secrets to Success
Social media is sound marketing. "It just uses different technology." Marmolejo points out. "Focus on your audience, your customers, and adding value to their lives. You'll attract followers. They will in turn become fans. Once they're fans of you, they know about you and like and trust you. They may then become leads. It's not about pushing your message out there. It's about putting forward a positive image consistently, building trust and value, and attracting the right clients to you like a magnet."
Marmolejo believes anyone can learn how to use a tool like a social networking site. She focuses on helping her clients define their strategy, gain credibility and build trust. "If I lay the right ground work, I don't need to convince people to buy my products or hire me for consulting. They feel they have made an educated decision before parting with their precious money because through social networking, they've come to know, like and trust me. That's the power of social networking for business."
For more information on Nancy Marmolejo, her consulting practice and products, please visit Viva Visibility.