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Five Social Media Tips for Fun and Profit

Last month, I published a post called The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Relations, in which I made a plea for intelligent PR pitches. Ask and ye shall receive! My LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook friend, Issamar Ginzberg, responded with some very solid social media advice for small businesses. Here are Ginzberg's five tips for using social media (some of which he used on me, so they clearly work):

Respond to comments on Facebook from industry leaders. Fan (now the "like" button on most Facebook pages) leaders in your industry and respond to their comments. This accomplishes two things: you develop a relationship with the poster (who, outside of the social media scene, might not be social to you at all) by making your name recognizable even if they don't interact with you directly; it also enables you to develop relationships with the other readers and commentators of that same person's Facebook feed. Many great relationships, interactions, and new friendships bloom from an initial meeting in the comments section of a post, provided your comments are thoughtful, incisive, and add a new angle or element to the discussion taking place.

Use LinkedIn Answers and Groups. This may seem obvious if you are using social networks, but think about it: the social media scene rewards participation. LinkedIn has a "best response" star that the best responder to a question gets on their profile, for all to see. Using LinkedIn answers and groups in your target market, being helpful, and asking questions of your own will lead to interactivity, opportunity, and a wider circle that will get you more business. For example, a dentist could ask "Where in Kenosha, Wisconsin would be the best place to open an additional dental practice?" The responses to that question, besides being helpful to the dentist himself for the possible new locations, contain tremendous value in that the respondents, in all likelihood, are residents or have connections in the area that are prospective clients. And you have just entered their sphere of influence.

Be Findable! Even if you are not an "open networker" on LinkedIn, it is still important to connect with one or two super-networkers so that you come up in searches when people search their networks for keywords that relate to your specialties. To easily find these super networkers, just search the word LION (which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker) in the LinkedIn search bar along with your city and state or specialty. Also, join a group, like "White House," or other large groups that will enable people in those groups to find you in searches as well.

Use testimonials as a marketing strategy. Testimonials are third party validation for your product or service that overcome the wall of resistance that humans naturally put up when being exposed to a sales pitch. When you give someone a testimonial via LinkedIn, your testimonial comes up on his or her profile. For example, if I hire someone for a small consulting job and am connected with them on LinkedIn, I can leave a recommendation for them on their profile, which leads people to see my name and gives them the ability to immediately "click over" to my own profile and find out more about me. Incidentally, as a guerilla marketing strategy, it sometimes even can pay to go to a networking event even if only to meet the speaker, connect with them on LinkedIn, and leave them a testimonial about how much you have learned form their presentation. LinkedIn also allows you to connect with old colleagues by importing your contacts from Outlook, Yahoo mail, Gmail, Excel, etc. In addition to all the obvious benefits of reconnecting with them, it gives you the ability to get more exposure for yourself by giving them a testimonial when they deserve one.

Use Twitter to establish name and face recognition among journalists. Once you have commented (again, intelligently) to what they have to say, and after a few rounds of give and take, a pitch or a phone call turns from a "cold pitch" into more of a "relationship pitch" which is the very thing that PR people are so well paid for. You can do that yourself by letting the journalist know ahead of time that you have tremendous value to give!

What do you think of Ginzberg's advice? Have you used any of the techniques and if so, have they worked for you? Please share your own social media strategy tips with your fellow entrepreneurs.

Handshake image from Flickr user AndyRob, CC 2.0