Consider the role of social engagement in your business plan. If you head up a small business, you are stuck between a cash flow rock and a selling hard place. You run lean and mean. Everyone’s either generating business or you are rolling up your sleeves to fulfill orders, invoice your customers, and impact positive cash flow.
There’s little time left to deal with a social engagement strategy for your business. Yet your company’s social footprint sets the stage for building brand, image and competitiveness. You can’t afford to ignore this aspect of business-building.
Let’s get started.
My blog post on “Social Influence and Business Development” for the MidmarketIBM program focuses on the importance of strategy and intent in your social engagement plan. You are doing nothing short of creating your company’s first digital “handshake” with new customers. Have I got your attention now?
Barbara Giamanco’s brilliant post on Top Sales World: “Go Beyond Social Selling” crystallizes what the focus and intent of your social engagement strategy needs to look like. Your digital “handshake” is the fulcrum leveraging initial customer experience with your brand, image and capabilities. It’s that significant.
What do you focus on first, as a small business owner, entrepreneur or startup CEO? Here is a checklist to get you started. Refer back to your social engagement checklist monthly. Chart your initial course. Align your business trajectory with your customers’ buying cycles. Your social engagement checklist can mean the difference between your business growth and stagnation.
- First Checkpoint: Complete your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile reinforces your company’s core competencies and value creation strategy. When you respond to RFQs and RFPs, Buyers conduct digital due diligence. They check you, your employees and your company “out”, online. LinkedIn is their first order of business. What level of social engagement is achieved? If your profile states that you are an “operations expert” make sure you list relevant experience, education or certification that validates your claim. Don’t make stuff up because you think it sounds good.
- Second Checkpoint: Create a compelling website. Your company website reinforces the quality of experience customers receive when doing business with you. The days of “informational” websites are over. Your customer doesn’t want to figure out what you can do for them. Connect the dots for them. Today’s websites set the social engagement table for your customer. Is your website up to date? Does it speak to your customer based on their own experiences?
- Third Checkpoint: Chose a social media site for your initial social engagement strategy. Blasting away at all sites, inconsistently and with unaligned messaging, is neither strategic nor engaging. Determine the target site (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn forums) where the majority of your customers hang out professionally. Determine what you want to say to them, from their perspective, not yours. Create a month of focused social engagement experiences via your well-crafted messages. Moderate responses. Maintain engagement. Build community.
Social engagement is a critical element of your small business model and growth strategy. Discover more tips on how to create your business plan, collaborate with customers and grow your company in my book Do YOU Mean Business? It’s your small business boot camp in a book.
Babette N. Ten Haken catalyzes revenue-producing business transition, startup growth and professional development. She works with manufacturing and engineering businesses and startups as well as in the B2C space.