1 July 2016

How to Tap The Power of Social Media for Your Business


This is internet income course lesson twenty-one, also aimed at simplifying the difficulties of starting and running a profitable online business by breaking down important principles in simple English. Course author, George Little, continues to reveal tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Read the previous lesson 20 here.

In this lesson, we will discuss how social media empowers independent entrepreneurs and how to best take advantage of that empowerment.


A small business entrepreneur can now reach out directly to his or her fans and his or her fans can now reach back directly. To fully understand what this means, think back to the days before Internet promotion. If you had a small business then, you had to contact the local newspaper, radio, and TV and you had to seek out local organizations offering sponsorships (such as high school band boosters, sports teams, and other local community projects). In each case, your contact was full of suggestions for how to promote your business and how they could do it best. You had to listen to these suggestions, work within their framework, follow their rules, and pay their asking price. With social media marketing, you have much more control over the process.

Social media allows you to set your own agenda. I'm not suggesting you ignore or eliminate these traditional means of advertising. They can still be very helpful. But, when you do deal with traditional media and community organizations, you can now legitimately ask them to fit their services into your agenda for promotion rather than vice-versa. You now have much more control. Maintaining control over your own promotions is not only personally empowering, it allows for more effective promotion. Your promotions can now be more integrated, more focused, more directed, and thus more efficient.

Let's look at how social media provides you this control.

1). Listening

Social Media Marketing allows you to listen. As discussed earlier in this course, social media allows you to identify your potential customers (see Role Of Social Media in Internet Marketing). Once you know who they are, you can learn what makes them tick. You learn about them by reading their content, joining their discussions, and pinpointing what is important to them. With this knowledge, you can create content that sparks their interest, content that engages them. Being a good listener is important in any human interaction. It is especially important in social media. Success in social media follows the old platitude "listen before you speak."

2). Focus

Social Media allows you to focus your efforts. You can't be all things to all people, but you can be what is most interesting and engaging to those most likely to purchase and promote your product or service. Learn what is important to these people by listening to them and then focus your content to those things of interest to them.

Inherent in the concept of focus is the concept of quality. This applies to both the connections you seek and how you post. On the connections side, it is better to have a smaller number of interested and engaged connections than a larger number of disinterested and unresponsive followers. It is better to focus on those followers who have more influence than the ones who are mostly ignored. On the posting front, it is better to make fewer posts of original quality content than to post more often with less quality.

Thus, focus on finding the people most likely to help your business (due to their interest and their influence) and then focus on providing them with the quality content they seek.

3). Sharing

The single most powerful feature of social media is the power of sharing. If you post quality content directed at the interests of your most loyal connections, they will share that content with their connections. Having your content shared accomplishes a number of goals.

Most obvious and most important, sharing gets your content seen by more viewers. But sharing does more than that.

The act of sharing reinforces your connection with the follower who shares your post. When someone shares your content, she is vouching for its quality. Your follower is putting herself on the line by recommending your content as interesting and informative to her followers. If her followers like and appreciate the content as well, you have contributed value that has helped her bond with her followers. She will appreciate that, reinforcing your connection with her.

Sharing also allows transfer to other social media sites. For example, if you have a follower who sees your content on Facebook, he may also share it on Pinterest, Google+, Vine, or one of the other popular social media sites. As you may not be active on those sites, this helps to spread your content farther than you could on your own, expanding your reach.

Sharing is potentially exponential. If just one of your followers shares your post, it may then be shared by three of his followers. If it is quality content, it may then be shared by six followers at the next level. Assuming the shares double at each level, it only takes a few levels of sharing for your content to reach a large number of people. When this process really takes off, we call it "going viral." One viral post can make someone famous, at least for a time. But, it is not necessary for a post to go viral. It is only necessary that it taps into, to some extent, the exponential power of sharing. (This potential for exponential sharing makes focus on the quality of your content even more important. The more quality in your content, the more likely it will be shared at each level.)

Sharing creates more links to your content. If you have posted a link to one of your blog articles, each subsequent sharing creates another link to your blog. Depending on how it's shared, it may also create a link to your social media profile. Thus, each share creates more "entry points" to you or your blog. The more ways that people can find their way into your information, the more popular that information will become.

Following from more links is higher "Page Rank." That is, the more your posts are shared, the more exposure you will be allowed on the search engines. Sharing also increases the rank of your social media profile not only on the search engines, but within the social media sites as well. Facebook calls this "Face Rank." The more your posts are shared, the more "Face Rank" is given to that post and your subsequent posts.

Now that we have discussed the power of having your content shared, it is worth summarizing again how to make sharing more likely. You increase the probability of your posts being shared by:
  1. focusing on choosing the right connections,
  2. listening to those connections to see what interests them; and
  3. building trustworthiness with those connections.
We have mentioned before the importance of creating trustworthiness with your followers. Let's look more closely at specific ways to do that. You need to make yourself accessible to them. You need to acknowledge their interests. And, you need to demonstrate your interest in their content by sharing their posts as well.

Remember when you post content that you are inviting a conversation. It is important that you participate in that conversation in a timely manner. Many times I have seen people make a post that invited questions and, then, when those questions were posed in the comments to the post, there were no timely answers. To understand how this works, imagine a group of your friends standing together. Imagine that you walk up to the group and say something interesting that raises questions in their minds. When your friends comment and ask you those questions, you just ignore them and walk away. That would not go over well. Neither does ignoring the conversation you start on social media.

In this real world example, imagine again that you were listening to the group when someone walked up and asked you an unrelated question (such as directions to a place they were headed). Your group of friends would understand that you would need to divert your attention to this person long enough to help them. They would then expect you to turn your attention back to them. They would understand, of course, if the diversion took some time and then you looked at your watch and realized you were going to be late for work. People should also understand that your attention cannot stay focused on social media all the time. There are other important things to which you must attend. But, there is an expectation that, at least within a 24 hour period, you will return and respond to them. When there is no response, or if that response comes days later, they feel slighted.

Thus, if you are going to make an important post, try to time the post so that you will be available to participate in the conversation it starts. Remember that conversation under a post increases the exposure of the post. Conversation is a good thing. It provides you an opportunity to listen to your followers. Don't ignore that opportunity.

Building relationships is the most important part of marketing. Conversations on social media allow you an opportunity to build those relationships. Make yourself accessible and acknowledge the input of your followers.

You also build trustworthiness by ensuring that your posts have value. If you post an article that has been debunked, it will lower your credibility. If your original content is not helpful or at least interesting, it will lower your credibility. Work hard to post correct, useful, interesting information in an original way. Consistent value builds trustworthiness.

Finally, remember the golden rule. If you want your followers to share your content, you need to share their content as well. Obviously, you can't indiscriminately share everything your followers post. That would clutter your feed and lower its value. But, watch for things of value posted by your followers and share them when appropriate. It is a compliment to your followers for you to share their posts. You can't expect them to keep sharing yours if you do not occasionally share theirs as well.

Social media empowers small business entrepreneurs by allowing them to reach out directly to their followers and have those followers reach back. It allows you to set your own agenda for your marketing campaigns. It allows you to listen, focus, and share and have others share your content. Having your content shared accomplishes many goals for you. It allows more people to see your content. It reinforces your connections with your followers. It increases the number of links to your content, and it builds you up both within the social media site and on the search engines.

You can make sharing of your content more likely by focusing on choosing the right connections, listening to those connections to see what interests them, and building trustworthiness with those connections. You build that trustworthiness by acknowledging your followers, making yourself accessible to them, ensuring your content has value, and sharing their content as well.

In our next lesson, we will continue our discussion of social media. Read the next lesson here: TWITTER: How to Harness its Power for Your Business.

By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

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