Do you want to find your customers online? One way to get your business in front of your customers is through social media. Now that it’s become difficult for business owners to get out in person to find new customers, it’s more important than ever to learn alternative ways to drum up business. In this post, I’m going to share five ways you can network on social media to grow your business and find new customers without spending money on advertising.
Your Customers Are on Social Media
Why should you use social media networking to grow your business? The latest research on consumer behavior in 2020 has found the following.
- Seven out of ten people use social media. (Pew Research Center)
- 90% of adults 18 – 29 years of age, 86% of adults 30 – 49 years of age, and 69% of adults aged 50 – 63 use at least one social network. (Pew Research Center)
- 78% of adults who make over $75,000 a year use at least one social network. (Pew Research Center)
- The top social networks by usage are Facebook (69%), Instagram (37%), Pinterest (28%), LinkedIn (27%), and Twitter (22%). (Pew Research Center)
- 3.96 billion people – 51% of the global population – actively use social media. (We Are Social & Hootsuite)
- 46% of women and 41% of men have increased their social media usage in 2020. (We Are Social & Hootsuite)
- 28% to 50% of women and 28% to 45% of men use social media to research businesses before making a purchase. (We Are Social & Hootsuite)
- 43% of Generation Z (8 – 23 years of age in 2020) and 42% of Generation Y/Millennials (24 – 39 years of age in 2020) prefer that businesses contact them via chat, social media, or text over the phone (26%) or email (31 – 32%). Include your phone number for (Selligent & Pew Research Center)
Of course, each business is unique. You have to know who your customers are to know exactly where they are on social media and how to grab their attention.
You also have to know the important details, like including your email address as a contact option for Gen X (64% of adults 40 – 55 years old in 2020) and Boomers (69% of adults 56 – 74 years old in 2020) who prefer to contact businesses by email over phone, chat, social, or text. (Selligent & Pew Research Center)
The following are tips that you can use to grow your business on the top social networks.
#1: Expand Your Personal Network
The easiest way to grow your business on social media is to start with your personal connections. Your personal contacts are full of family, friends, acquaintances, former classmates, and former coworkers who may be interested in the products and services you have to offer. Here’s how to find out on each social network.
Facebook and Twitter use your smartphone’s address book to find your personal connections. You can find this option on Facebook by going to the Settings & Privacy section of your personal profile. Tap on Settings and look under Media and Contacts to find the option to upload your phone’s address book. Facebook will continuously check for new contacts on its platform.
This will allow you to send friend requests to your contacts.
On Twitter, you can find this option by going to your Privacy and Safety settings. Look under Discoverability and Contacts to sync your smartphone’s address book to your Twitter account. Twitter will also check your contacts regularly for new people to connect with on their platform.
Since Twitter doesn’t distinguish between personal and business accounts, you can use this option to sync your smartphone’s contacts directly to your business Twitter account. People will be notified when you follow them and have the option to follow you back.
On LinkedIn, you can import contacts from a smartphone, email, and calendar. On your smartphone, look under your profile’s sidebar for your Settings. Look under the Syncing Options to connect your smartphone’s address book. It will check for new connections on a regular basis.
You can also import your contacts from your Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Outlook, or another email program.
You can use both features to find people to invite to your LinkedIn network. Those who accept your invitation will become a part of your first-degree network.
On Instagram, you can import contacts from your phone or add contacts from Facebook. Look under your profile settings for the Discover People option to find the option to connect with your contacts. People will be notified when you follow them and have the option to follow you back.
Pinterest, on the other hand, only allows you to search for people you know based on their name or username. People will be notified when you follow them and they will have the option to follow back.
#2: Invite People You Know to Follow Your Business
On Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, you can connect with customers, vendors, and other acquaintances by merely following their profile. Based on the user’s settings, they will receive a notification that you have followed them that includes a link to your profile. If that user chooses, they can click through to your profile and follow you back.
On Facebook, you can invite friends from your personal profile to like your Facebook business page. From your Facebook business page, click on the three dots and select the Invite Friends option.
This will send a notification to selected friends to visit and like your Facebook business page.
On LinkedIn, you can invite 1st degree connections from your personal profile to follow your LinkedIn company page. From your LinkedIn company page, look under the Admin Tools menu and click on Invite Connections.
This will send a connection request to them to visit and follow your LinkedIn company page.
As you add new connections to your Facebook friends list and your LinkedIn 1st degree network, you will need to also invite them to like or follow the page for your business on those respective networks.
#3: Join in Relevant Public Discussions
Another way to grow your business on the top social networks is to participate in discussions as your business on posts from other business profiles and pages. This is an option for each of the top social networks with the exception of LinkedIn.
The goal is to find public profiles and pages your ideal customers also like. Think about related, relevant local businesses and places to engage with that aren’t your direct competitors.
On Facebook, you can comment on posts from other business pages using your Facebook page. When you find a post, click on the dropdown next to your photo to change it from your personal profile to your business page. Once your comment is posted, anyone who sees your comment can see more details about your business.
On Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, use your business profile to comment on posts from other public profiles. The faster you comment, or the more engagement your comment receives, the more likely your business will be seen by others who view the discussion.
#4: Participate in Local Communities on Facebook and LinkedIn
Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to create active communities (groups) based on shared and regional interests (topics only applicable to your hometown). You can grow your business by adding value to discussions within groups by replying to posts or starting your own.
Both networks allow you to use your personal profiles to create and join groups. Facebook also allows you to use your business page. This can be especially helpful for local businesses since group members can ask others for business recommendations.
To get started, use the search box on Facebook and LinkedIn to search for groups relevant to your business and your local community. When you request to join, Facebook groups may give you the option to join as your personal or business page, followed by a few questions to ensure that you will follow the group’s rules. LinkedIn will send your request to administrators to approve or deny.
Once you have been approved for a group, your job is to review the group rules to see what is allowed. Then visit your groups regularly to participate in pertinent discussions that could ultimately connect you with your ideal clients. Be on the lookout for requests for recommendations – they are the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to a new customer in your area!
#5: Choose the Best Hashtags
Hashtags are #keywords and #keyword phrases followed by a # sign. The top social networks use them to help users find other people, businesses, and posts based on a specific interest. You can use hashtags on your posts to help them reach people beyond those connected with your business profiles and pages. Do it by simply adding a # in front of a popular keyword or phrase that is relevant to your post.
Facebook has a #hashtag page that shows the number of people that have recently included it in their posts, followed by the most popular posts with that hashtag.
Instagram and LinkedIn have #hashtag pages that show the number of followers for the hashtag, followed by the most popular posts that included the hashtag. You can follow hashtags on both networks to see the most popular public posts from other people and businesses to get inspiration for your own social media content.
Twitter and Pinterest show the latest tweets and pins using a hashtag in search results. Neither show the number of followers or posts for a hashtag.
If you start by applying these tips to each of the social networks you belong to, you should see the size of your followers and the number of responses on your posts consistently increase. Start by focusing on one of the top social networks at a time, or on the social network that you know already works best for your business. As you increase your business’s visibility on social media, you will be able to connect and interact with customers in your local community.
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