Use social media to sell business

The following edited excerpt is from Scott Duffy's book, "Breakthrough," which recently was featured on Entrepreneur.com. Duffy is an Author, TV/online host and business growth expert.

In social media, you must not only engage but also engage consistently. The key to building meaningful relationships is to join the conversation. By reaching out to people in your community and responding to their comments, you can set the agenda. Using social media to promote your business doesn't have to be hard if you just follow these easy steps.

Pick one platform to start with, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or another from the growing list of choices. Learn a little about the channels before you decide. For example, LinkedIn is more popular in the business world and has a very large international following. Meanwhile, Instagram is more visually oriented. Twitter is very newsworthy, with quick comments and responses, and Facebook has many businesses, but the approach is more social. Each also has slightly different user demographics. Most important, find out which social media platform is the one your customers spend their time on — because that's where you need to be. Go find them and engage.

These tips will help:

Be authentic. Be yourself. Share and tweet and post the things that genuinely interest you and your audience. And don't work too hard to make everything perfect; if you do, you'll either never put anything up, or worse, break trust with your customers.

Engage, engage, engage! The primary goal on social media is to build relationships and add value. Talk with people and really engage. Respond to comments. Jump into communities. Share your perspective and point of view.

Don't oversell. You know that guy at a party who always wants to sell you insurance? Don't be that guy. Get to know people, engage honestly, and join in the conversation ... don't dominate it. Giving advice and offering suggestions can showcase your helpfulness, knowledge and trustworthiness. Get people to ask you about yourself, rather than telling them about yourself, and they'll be more receptive.

Commit yourself to a daily "hour of power." Getting started with these technologies is quick and easy. Opening an account costs nothing, and posting is free. Spend one hour per day during your launch engaging with the community. That's it. In one hour a day, at zero cost, you can build an army. The cost in time and money is negligible, but the potential payback in exposure and attention is incalculable.

Tell them how to reach you. Make sure your fans know how to get hold of you. If possible, give them your web address, email address, phone number and social media handle. If possible, use the same handle on all social media platforms.

Social media offers you the chance to build a massive sales force that will be more effective than anyone you can put on staff. People are much more likely to trust your brand and become a customer based on a friend's referral.

For information on social media marketing and other business topics call 979-230-3380. You can also schedule a confidential meeting at no cost with a Brazosport College SBDC Business Advisor.

Janice Goines is the director of the Brazosport College Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 979-230-3380 or janice.goines@brazosport.edu.

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