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7 Essential Elements of a Business Social Media Networking Strategy

5 min read
7 Essential Elements of a Business Social Media Networking Strategy

With the rapid proliferation of social media networks and social media tools having a social media networking plan is the key to using them effectively.  A social media networking plan empowers to you simplify your social networking efforts by aligning your social networks with your business goals. A social networking plan will also help you track results – so you can see how effective each network is in achieving your business goals and, if necessary, try other networks. That way you don’t waste time in a social network if it is not meeting your identified goals.

Here are 7 essential elements of an effective social media networking plan.

1. Establish your social networking goals

Hint: Being on the popular social media networking sites because everyone else is on them and you feel left out isn’t a goal. Everyone knows about Twitter, Linked In and Facebook however these are not the only social networks there are.

Is your goal to raise awareness of your brand? Promote your products? Develop leads? Share your expertise? Network with like-minded people? Get referrals? Then choose a social network that matches that goal and you will get greater success than simply choosing one at random. Your goals should be business goals. Articulate them and write them down. Statistics say that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. It’s no different in social media networking.

2. Choose your social networking sites carefully

Since there are literally hundreds of social networking sites you will need to do some experimentation to find what fits your business goals. Twitter, Facebook and Linked In are the most well-known (with Twitter being the site of the hour), and while they are excellent sites they are not the only social networking sites by a long shot.

Sticking with just with just these three may mean you are on the popular sites; however take care you’re not missing out on other or additional business networking opportunities.  For example, while building relationships is the bedrock of doing business online or off, some business social networking sites are more open to promotion alongside relationship building while others frown on or prohibit product or service promotion in various degrees.

Here are some business social networking sites worth checking out. For links see my blog post called “There’s more to Social Networking than Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn” where you’ll see I mention Biznik too.

Apsense.com: Promote products and sites on your business profile and get paid revenue for referrals

Entrepreneur Connect.com: Promote your business on Entrepreneur Magazine’s own social network

FastPitchNetworking.com: Take advantage of email marketing and virtual tradeshows

GoBigNetworking.com is a start up community focused on finding expert advice and funding

Marzar.com: Great for businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals to promote their products, services and discover new business relationships and opportunities, find suppliers and stay abreast of new developments

Konnects.com: Are you in the newspaper and magazine industry? This is worth checking out

Xing.com: Create your own subject specific social network

Once you’ve a feel for some of the business social networks out there choose a limited number in which to participate. It’s almost impossible to be fully active in more than three at a time.

3. Decide on your ideal contacts

Who are you looking for?  While you may have hundreds of contacts, if you decide who you want to reach out to and make deeper connections with up front your social networking will be more effective. Are you looking for corporate executives, authors, writers, recruiters? Be clear about who you want to connect with, because that will determine how you connect with them. Focus on finding like-mined people who share your goals and match your target market. Be selective rather than accepting every invite that comes your way.

4. Participate consistently

Once you’ve chosen your social networks, participate regularly by contributing valuable content, sharing your expertise, answering questions, listening and making new connections. You should also show how you can meet an identified need. Drive traffic back to your own sites by including your signature, site and blog links in your posts, articles, videos etc.

5. Plan your time for social networking

It’s important to allocate your time for participation in social networks up-front and this is where having a social networking plan will help. Many businesses jump in with no real plan, find other things take priority and quickly get overwhelmed with the amount of time it takes to participate fully.  Be patient and develop a strong focused network that supports your business goals.

6. Track and measure your results

Small businesses suffer from a lack of time because they are doing everything themselves. Invest time in building solid relationships, but make sure these are relationships that move you towards your goals. If you’ve set success measures for your social networking from the outset you can track how successful you are in meeting them and make changes accordingly. Success measures could be, for example, the number of referrals received, number of times your free offer has been downloaded, number of leads obtained, or followed up, sign-ups to your e-zine or similar. While getting traffic to your blog or site is good, you must tie what you are doing into your financial goals and plan.

7. Review your plan at intervals

How are you maximizing your time on your business social networks?  Are your chosen networks still relevant to your goals 2-3 months later? How does your activity translate into those goals? Do you need to try another network? Review your social networking plan and tweak it as necessary.

In summary

1. Establish your business social networking goals

2. Choose your social networking sites according to those goals

3. Decide on your ideal contacts

4. Participate fully and consistently

5. Plan your time for social networking

6. Measure your results

7. Review your plan at intervals and make changes where necessary.

Follow this 7-step plan and you’re likely to have a more focused business social networking experience.

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