Category Archives: Social media

Relax. Developing a following takes time.

bonsai tree
“Patience is a virtue.”

That is one of my mom’s top three favorite sayings (along with “a place for everything and everything in its place” and “keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart”), and it popped into my head today in relation to my work.

As a new business owner, I am apt to grow impatient with my progress in making new connections, winning new clients, and attracting new followers and blog readers. I want it all, and I want it all now.

Sound familiar?

Well, patience is indeed a virtue (someone tell my mom she was right). In fact, impatience can be a major impediment to business development, because most good strategies take time. For any business, current technology and new marketing and communication trends can capture our attention in those impatient moments and zap our focus. We end up doing a little bit of this, a smattering of that – and then wonder why we’re not making progress.

My advice – to you and to myself – is to pick a few strong strategies and stick with them long enough to discover their true power and potential. If you create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or a blog, invest the time to develop a brand personality on each channel. Engage your followers in conversation. Most of all, don’t post a few times and then disappear for weeks or months. Regular posting is key to staying on your followers’ radars.

Sure, you might start out with 10 followers, but those followers could become 10 deeply loyal fans. Patience, and regular posting, will eventually mean more followers and more fans.

Remember that your followers need time to get to know you. Your business needs to express a personality (your brand) and deliver consistently on it. Don’t try to be all things to all people – post and share content that is in keeping with your brand. People will continue to engage with you when they know what to expect.

Amy J.V. Atwell is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor. She works with businesses to grow their brands through high-quality copy and content. Read more at www.heirloomcommunications.com.

Be memorable, and be human. Perfecting your personal brand.

by Amy J.V. Atwell

personal brandA friend of mine, and fellow freelance writer, recently told me he’s thinking of leaving the freelance world because he’s “never been good at self-promotion.”

I also know professionals who don’t believe in posting their headshots on LinkedIn or with their newsletter articles – and these are director-level individuals who are making high-level business deals on a daily basis.

So, is posting a photo with a social media profile or newsletter shameless self-promotion? I don’t think it is. It is part of creating a memorable personal brand.

Here’s the thing: People don’t do business with businesses. Not really. Oh, sure, there are a few business brands so elevated that they attract millions of fans with a mere swoosh or apple symbol (assuming the product meets muster, of course). Is your business Nike or Apple? No? Then, bottom line, your business is you.

People do business with people. Your company might have a great reputation, and a great brand, but that only takes the deal so far. You and your interactions with customers are an extension of your company’s brand. The human element – a personal touch – helps sell your company’s products and services to customers, aka other humans.

Connecting with customers on an authentic level puts them more at ease. That doesn’t mean you need to become best friends with each contact – not at all. It just means you need to be human. If you’re simply a walking, talking billboard for your company, how will people remember you? Or will they remember you at all?

What if you change jobs or industries? When you try to reconnect with people in your network, will they have a benchmark for who you are, or will they remember you for the sales pitch and one-liners? Your personal brand follows you throughout your career, so it makes sense to be mindful of it and develop it.

With that in mind, here are some tips:

Don’t be the gal or guy people dodge at networking events.
Years ago, there was a regular at networking events I attended. He wore mint green plaid pants and salmon shirts, which was helpful for identifying him in a crowd – and planning my dodging strategy. I had been cornered by this guy before, and he was notorious for blathering on about his product and not much else. Which leads me to…

Don’t blather.
Take a breath. Take a sip of your club soda and lime. Create pauses that allow the other person to speak. If you never let the other person speak, you will never gain valuable insight into why this person could be a great connection.

Don’t just push – connect.
If you do all the talking, you might as well be practicing lines in the mirror. Your goal is not to push out as much information as possible. Your goal is to share ideas and discussions that lead to genuine connections.

Step outside your sales pitch and share something the other person can use. Not only that, but encourage questions and dialogue. The information you share should be the fodder for an interesting conversation. This rule applies both in person and online.

Do post your photo on your LinkedIn profile and personal Twitter page.
Before you ever meet contacts at a networking event or a business meeting, you are likely connecting with them online. Your photo, and a well-written profile, is your chance to make a good first impression. Do not underestimate the power of putting a face with a name (and title, resume and value proposition).

Do be positive.
At a recent business mixer, a contact and I quickly discovered that we had a business organization in common. This commonality would have been great way to develop a conversation and a connection had he not chosen to go negative immediately. He spent 15 minutes spewing venom about the organization and its staff, and I could not wait to make my exit. He did not leave me with a negative impression of that organization – he left me with a negative impression of him. I am not likely to seek him out as a business connection as a result.

You don’t have to put on a phony smile or fake an optimistic outlook, but do be aware that using positive words goes a long way in leaving your new contact with a positive impression of you and your business.

Do listen.
Pay attention to memorable tidbits about the other person and his or her business. Ask questions and use the information gleaned to further the conversation. Remember those pieces of information to start conversation the next time you see someone.

Do be yourself.
I love what Twitter has done for people on this front. In your short Twitter bio, you can let people know about both your business and personal interests in a few simple words. The same should hold true elsewhere in your online presence, as well as in your in-person conversations. You never know when your interest in vintage toys or WWII history helps forge a long-standing business relationship.

Amy J.V. Atwell is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor. She works with businesses to grow their brands through high-quality copy and content. Read more at www.heirloomcommunications.com.

The trouble with tweeters

A new client recently shared with me that her corporate office wants each district manager to tweet 100 times a day in an effort to raise awareness and drum up new business.

Before you think I plan to knock Twitter, I should note that I met this particular client through Twitter. This business relationship is a perfect example of how social media can lead to new contacts and new business. Aside from that, Twitter is a great way to reach an engaged audience that is interested in your particular topic; but – news flash – not all of your target audiences are on Twitter. Even if they are, it is almost guaranteed that they won’t see each and every tweet you share, nor act on them.

It is a good idea to post on your chosen social media channels several times per day, but you have other work to do (assuming your title isn’t “social media guru”). You need to build social media into your schedule, or find a way to outsource it to someone, but you can’t let social media dictate your schedule. A good social media calendar and a little pre-planning can help you stay on top of it without getting overwhelmed by it.

That said, you also need to think about your target audiences. I said earlier that not everyone is on Twitter, and that’s true. A recent Pew report shows that only 16 percent of Internet users are on Twitter (67 percent are on Facebook, 15 percent use Pinterest and 13 percent use Instagram). That doesn’t even take into account the people who are not online at all: 21.4 percent of the North American population.

Bottom line, your outreach strategy can’t be limited to one platform or tactic. You need to reach your audience through both old and new media, online and in print and through the variety of other channels available to you. A little research into your target market goes a long way.

More on this topic in future posts.