Ever felt overwhelmed by social media advice? Everywhere you look, there are articles full of conflicting information about Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter strategies.
Much of the available advice seems not specific enough to apply for your industry or business. So instead of sifting through the mountains of resources, you end up spending your time (and hours of it) on Social Media without much direction, unsure of your ROI, and posting pictures of cats.
So, how do you use Social Media strategically if your business or industry is different from most other online players?
It’s especially challenging to know where to start when your industry doesn’t use social media at all or the predominant opinion among your peers is that it’s too casual or too personal.
But, think of it this way, if others in your industry aren’t using social media (yet – it’s just a matter of time), then now is the perfect time for you to start. You’ll be ahead of the curve!
When you’re on the forefront of using social media in your market, you can take inspiration from all kinds of other businesses. Just because you have a different business model than the examples you see in articles doesn’t mean that the strategies discussed won’t work for you.
What you thought was a problem (“these strategies don’t apply to my business”), is really no problem at all, it’s simply an opportunity to learn to think differently (“how can these strategies apply to me and my business”).
Make a practice of applying strategies from across different industries and markets, and see what sticks!
When I read a blog or business book, I like to force myself to apply the ideas to my business – what if I HAD TO use this pricing model or marketing campaign? How would I do that? Not only does this expand possibilities for how I can grow my business, but it also turns reading and researching into a game!
Here’s how to apply this approach to your business, no matter what your industry or model is:
1) Start following people from all different industries on Facebook and Twitter. Look for thought leaders and brands that you
respect or admire. Bookmark their content that interests you and dedicate an hour a week to reading ideas, opinions, and strategies
from a variety of people and businesses.
2) Practice translating ideas. Just because it hasn’t yet been done doesn’t mean that the idea or strategy doesn’t apply to you or your
field! Think of it this way: the more “no one does that in my industry” the better, as you will stand out!
3) Get more personal on social media. Generally, your customers want to connect with you rather than your business or brand. (Would you rather interact with someone’s face or a logo when you’re at a networking dinner?) Whether or not it’s “industry standard,” it’s important to share your values, your personality, and your uniqueness in order to forge connections with your customers. Social Media is an amazing tool for building the all-important “know, like, and trust” factor with your audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to use these free platforms as a way to help your prospects and customers get to know you.
4) Look at what’s working. Many Social Media sites (and tools like HootSuite) offer critical analytic information to help ensure that the content you share is “sticky” – i.e. generating clicks to your site, social sharing, comments, likes, retweets, etc. It’s important for you to look at this data – whether on Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, or Google
Analytics – and then optimize the type (and timing) of content you share to what is getting the most activity. Don’t be afraid to find out that you’ve been wasting your time – you have a business to run! Make sure the time you spend on Social Media is giving you a return on investment! The only way to know for sure is to look at the data.
Ready to step outside of the industry box and try some new Social Media strategies? Great! Leave a comment below with three potential resources for ideas that are outside of your field, and then make a habit of playing the strategy game to see what new ideas will stick!
Image Credit: Moyan_Brenn flickr creative commons
Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media Marketer, is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to
become welcome-known and claim their brand online. Social Media Marketer is an online classroom and community for extraordinary entrepreneurs.
Laura is also the creator of Creating Fame and author of Facebook Fame: The Facebook Marketing Bible for Small Businesses. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!