1 Social Media Marketing for Professional Consultants
1.2 The important of a structured social media strategy
2. How to put your Social Media Strategy in Place
2.1. Content Creation
2.2. Content Curation
2.4. Remember Mobile Strategy
2.5. Consider Automation
3. A Closer Look at your Social Media Strategy
3.4. Other Social Platforms
3.5. Three Tools Which Can Help Your Social Strategy Succeed
4. Top Takeaways for Your Social Media Strategy
4.1. Embrace Automation
4.3. Choose Wisely
4.4. Remember Who You are Writing For
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANTS
As a professional business consultant your talent is devising strategies, providing solutions and making suggestions for the benefit of other businesses. But what do you do to promote and push forward your own business? Social media marketing is an essential element of any professional consultant’s long-term growth and business strategy.
You are probably using social media for your business, but how successful is it? Do you generate consistent sales leads and find potential clients? Do you know which networks work best for your sector and do you know how to find those untapped sources of work that could be the secret to the next stage of your business? A strong and well-developed social media marketing strategy can transform your business.
Being a professional consultant doesn’t necessarily mean you are an expert marketer. And you don’t need to be either. But you really do need to get your head around social media and use it to get more business in. 92% of all marketers indicate that social media marketing is important for their business and American research suggests social media advertising revenue will reach $9.8bn this year. These kind of figures indicate the level of importance businesses are putting on social media, and if you have ambition to grow your business or find new business then your social presence matters.
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The Importance of a Structured Social Media Strategy
At least 52% of all online adults use two or more social media sites. Many of these people use it for social purposes, as the name suggests but it is also consistently used for recommendations, looking for business opportunities and seeking out services. If you want to increase interest in and attract attention for your work, you have to talk about it.
But you also have to provide something that people want to see in their networks. Social media can be very fickle – if you don’t provide an audience with things they want to see and read, they can simply unfollow you and move on.
A structured social media strategy, which combines the key elements necessary to succeed, will help ensure you create the right online impression and it will also help to position you in the market. And a lot of it really isn’t rocket science; it’s about being smart and a little organised. As a business consultant you may want to be considered an expert in your field to increase your credibility and trustworthiness. You can craft your social media strategy around this aim, coupled with the aim of increasing leads and generating more business.
A structured social media strategy allows you to automate and measure your success more effectively. Purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by social media, with consumers saying it plays almost as big a role in their choices as television and if you want to stand out as an expert in your field, ahead of the times, and able to offer a unique and high level consultancy service, you need to be able to be “found”.
Another key reason you need a proper social media strategy in place is competition. Social media ad spending is expected to exceed $35bn in 2017 and you can be sure competitors in your industry are investing. It is very simple to go ahead and setup a vast array of social media channels without a strategy but how will you know what works? How can you measure your success? You can be sure that others are already tracking and testing and looking for more effective ways to advertise on social media and you should be doing the same. It isn’t enough to be a recognisable, chatty presence on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve got to know what the next step is.
HOW TO PUT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY IN PLACE
Typically, your strategy would aim towards the objective of helping you grow your consultancy business – whether that is looking for contracts in the short-term or expanding your network for future business growth opportunities.
Whatever your motivations and goals are, there are three fundamental elements to any social media strategy:
1. Content Creation
2. Content Curation
These three elements blend together and overlap but they are integral to the success of your marketing strategy. You need to create content to engage potential clients and promote your skills and experience. You need this content to attract visitors to your website, and you’ve also got to offer a more rounded view of the industry.
Your followers (start thinking of them as your target audience – potential sources of work and contracts) want to see what you have to offer and are interested in your business but they are also interested in related areas and other influencers in your sector.
Curating quality content, interesting articles and valuable links that you then share with your social following helps to cement your position as a reliable source of information, both that which you’ve created and developed yourself and that which you source.
As a professional consultant you have plenty of expertise and experience in your chosen sector and it’s fair to say you want to be paid to impart the most valuable of your skills. However, to build up interest in your business and to bolster your social reputation, sharing your own content is essential.
Whether you write a weekly blog post sharing helpful business advice, hints, tips or opinions, or want to welcome newcomers to a regular networking event you attend, you can share all of this across social media. But be warned – if you only share your own content, then people will soon get bored and switch off. Or, worse case scenario, they may see you as a little arrogant or egotistical!
Finding and sharing articles that are valuable to your online audience can have as positive effect on your reputation as posting your own content. Being recognised as part of a community that shares reciprocally and adds value to the social experience for all involved will help get you noticed and bring you to mind when small businesses are looking for consultancy support in your area.
Sources for material to share include other websites and blogs, news outlets relevant to your sector and even the comments section of your own blog and website. You may find your commenters have interesting points to share and give you a new view on things. Sharing quality content produced and liked by your followers too can be useful, as reciprocal support may come your way and it helps to create a community atmosphere. Remember – social media is supposed to be “social”, after all!
Simply posting links, your own and those of others, is not enough to succeed with social media marketing. 80% of marketers cite engagement, which incorporates likes, shares and comments, as the most important metric for evaluating their social media marketing success. Not only does your content need to interest people, it needs to engage with them on a level that means they want to pass comment, they want to share it or discuss it with you.
Beyond this, you should also use social media to engage on a more informal level. None of the most effective social media accounts stay silent except for sharing links. In fact, accounts which just post links all the time are amongst the least effective, as there is no engagement whatsoever.
Start conversations, ask questions and respond to queries. Dedicate time to your audience, because they have the potential to become clients and may even include some clients.
Remember Mobile Strategy
83% of smartphone users do not leave their homes without some kind of mobile device and this could be their connection to your business. More Google searches are carried out on mobile than desktop and at the end of 2015, 75% of Internet users went online via a mobile device further asserting how important it is to incorporate mobile into your social media marketing strategy.
Appreciating the value of mobile means you have to both embrace it on a personal level, managing your channels on the go but also understand what kind of content works for mobile users. Buffer suggest that 2 times more sharing takes place on mobiles so if you’re creating content which appeals to mobile users, you can bet they’re more likely to click the share button. The key things to remember about the mobile element of your social media strategy are:
1. Focus on the visuals: many of the apps for the different social media channels are more image-heavy than their desktop counterparts. Content that includes images gets more clicks naturally but this is even more the case via mobile. Make sure there is an image with every piece of written content you post and ensure your header images for Facebook and Twitter are mobile-optimised.
2. Treat your links as currency: the key to all successful social media marketing is the quality of your links. You need to have a clean and consistent structure to your links and make it simple for your mobile users to just click and get exactly where they need to go.
3. Roll out Responsive: if you haven’t already, you need to ensure that every element of your online presence is responsively designed and looks as fantastic on smaller screens as larger ones. There is no point having a fantastic mobile social media strategy if links out take them to a website that can’t be properly viewed.
To succeed with your fully structured social media strategy you will need a degree of automation. Investing in tools that can automate some of the processes of your strategy can take the pressure off and remove the need to spend all your time scanning your social media channels and never focusing on your core business interests.
You may have already given some automated tools a go. Lots of business consultants have autoresponders setup and may use a tool to auto-post on Facebook or Twitter but do you measure the success of this automation? Automated tools for social media can be absolutely invaluable but only if you use them properly and only if you pay attention to the results they deliver.
There are Facebook and Twitter accounts which, if not for the automation, would be entirely inactive and this isn’t the way to do it. You can’t expect to succeed if you’re not engaging like we have already mentioned so when considering automation, you need to use it as a helpful tool, not as a replacement for your own input.
One of the key benefits that comes with many of the automation platforms out there is that they are equipped with analytics and the opportunity to dig deep into the effectiveness of your posts and tweets. You can soon work out what kinds of message are popular with your audience and craft further campaigns based on the most successful style of post.
A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
One of the key issues that business consultants face is knowing which social media channels to work with. It can be tempting to have a profile absolutely everywhere but unless you’ve got the means to manage 5+ channels, it probably isn’t advisable. Most business consultants will have a Facebook page, Twitter account and a LinkedIn account. You may also have a Google+ page and with the huge growth and success in chat-based and image-based social marketing you may even be present on Snapchat and Instagram. Here we’re having a look at the ‘big three’ in depth:
71% of all Internet users are on Facebook and there are over 1.65 billion active users on the site every month. 50 million small businesses have active pages on the platform and it can be an effective place to gain new business leads, although you may find you need to pay for it.
Once of the key benefits of doing business on Facebook is it allows you to connect with the local community easily and it makes you searchable. Whilst you may not only work in your local area if someone is looking for a management consultant in Exeter on Facebook and your page is properly setup then you should be visible and in with a chance of being contacted.
Facebook’s paid advertising options makes it something you need to consider carefully. Do you have an advertising budget? Evidence suggests that businesses are not shy to spend on Facebook adverts, even as prices rise, business owners remain committed to their strategies.
The Facebook ad algorithm has made it more difficult to build an audience organically although it is still possible if you are creating interesting contact, referencing others in your sector who may comment themselves, and engaging with your audience.
Paid Facebook adverts can be highly targeted and they can have a huge or a miniscule reach, dependent on the perimeters you set. The insights delivered by Facebook are extremely user-friendly so it is easy to make positive changes from one campaign to the next and the only drawback seems to be the rising costs, which is something each consultant needs to consider against their own budget.
Twitter is a much loved channel for business consultants and they can be seen using it in a huge manner of different ways:
How Consultants are Using Twitter
These are just some of the ways you will find consultants using Twitter. It is a hugely effective choice for anyone looking to build a community around their business and get involved with other communities to help grow their income. Around 42% of consumers first learn about new products and services via Twitter which makes it a very useful tool for launching new services. Twitter is also a powerful tool for customer service. Indeed, companies using it for this purpose see a lift of 19% in customer satisfaction.
Twitter makes the relationship between you and your clients more fluid and personable. It allows you to exert your authority in areas where you are an expert whilst also offering up similar, valuable content from other sources. The wide range of ways in which you can use Twitter, as illustrated above, means you can create experiences for your potential clients and followers which all lead back to your business and the positive solutions you can offer
As a professional business consultant a lot of your work may be B2B although you may carry out a smaller amount of B2C work. LinkedIn is the perfect tool for your business as it thrives on B2B business.
In fact, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content distribution, which is something you can do too. B2B marketers also assert that LinkedIn is one of the most effective digital content and social media tools for generating leads.
Known as the professional network for a reason, LinkedIn allows you to get involved in industry groups, share your content with likeminded connections, and network online as you would in person. It is a hugely effective tool for generating leads, whether you actively seek them out through direct messaging or create conversation and interest in groups or on your business page.
Other Social Platform
The growth of visual and video-based content and its popularity means that YouTube, Instagram and chat-based platforms such as Snapchat have emerged as valuable tools for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Even if you don’t choose to use these platforms yourself it is essential to have the measure of them for the benefit of your clients.
THREE TOOLS WHICH CAN HELP YOUR STRATEGY SUCCEED
We have already discussed how valuable automation can be for your social media strategy so here are three tools that add convenience, streamlining and, in some cases, automation to your strategy.
Often referred to as THE social media management tool, Hootsuite is the market leader when it comes to automation, scheduling and generally ensuring you’re always present on social media. It also ensures everything you post can be accurately analysed going forward.
Over 10 million professionals use Hootsuite and it is an enterprise level tool which allows you to monitor what people are saying about your business, as well as automate and schedule tweets, Facebook posts and posts across other social networks including LinkedIn and Google+. The free entry-level subscription is perfect for most individuals, and its ease of integration helps to make Hootsuite so popular.
Once you have launched and carried out your latest social media campaign you can use the wide range of Hootsuite analytics tools to measure its success and pick out those most effective parts for your next efforts. Hootsuite is invaluable when it comes to shaping and tailoring your campaigns to what your audience wants.
SunZu is a tool that is designed solely with the purpose of growing your business and generating solid leads. We have already mentioned how important it is to have solid, reliable content to share with your audience. With SunZu you can create a vast range of tailored adverts, in the form of landing pages, to offer up something unique to each of your target market areas.
The best thing about SunZu is that you do not need to have exceptional tech prowess to create effective and SEO ready adverts. Landing pages give you something direct and specific to provide your potential clients with, if they are interested in a particular service and they are also valuable for producing potential client databases and lists, as you can request clients email via the page for more information or to redeem an offer you are advertising through the page.
The huge range of diversity that IFTTT (“If This Then That”) offers has led to it quickly becoming a very popular social media tool. It is a highly effective automation tool that can connect as many as 166 different channels together using its unique ‘recipes’ which work in an almost domino effect, as the name suggests.
It works on the basis of simply connecting together any major social network and then automate sharing across different channels, based on any chosen action. You may set IFTTT to automatically tweet, Facebook post and LinkedIn post every time you publish a new article. You can also cleverly use it for more administrative tasks, such as adding every tweet you send out to a spreadsheet so you have a backup record of it. You can also use IFTTT to curate content and set reminders.
TOP TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
Your social media marketing strategy will be unique to your business activities but you can incorporate many of the elements discussed here to head towards success. Without a proper strategy you will soon become frustrated with the lack of results. Keep these points in mind:
If you are a solo consultant, then it can be hard to let go of any part of your business. Control may be something you value highly but if you use automation tools you still have this control; you just get to relax the grip a little. You are still managing and monitoring your social media activity, without having to be constantly there.
Everything needs to be geared towards the mobile market. Social media is a mobile phenomenon and whilst it is used on traditional desktops, mobile is where it’s at. You need to ensure you consider mobile users in the creation of all of your content and also ensure your social media profile designs and website are optimised for mobile users.
3. Choose Wisely
Spreading yourself too thinly across 15 social networks is much less effective than being a strong and powerful force on one. When you are solely responsible for marketing your business it can be tempting to have a profile everywhere but is much more important to succeed in the places you are present and being to build your community. You want your time on social media to generate more business, but if you’re constantly hopping from channel to channel and not committing to any on a consistent basis, no one will be interested.
4. Remember who you’re Writing For
There are hundreds of consultants online who seem to have forgotten the point of social media. The clue is in the name. Social. You are promoting your business and hoping to generate new work but you can’t expect this to happen if you consistently send out streams of links to your own website and nothing else. You’re not engaging, you’re not interesting and you’re not adding anything of value to other users’ experience. Soon you will be unfollowed and your links will remain unclicked. Remember this is a social experience and you are offering your piece into a huge and growing space. Offer up your own thoughts, content and expertise but respect others and always be open to engagement and discussion.