Social media — a never ending topic of discussion among small business owners for years now. And depending on your experience, it can actually be pretty divisive. Business owners either love social media or can’t seem to see its value at all. The truth? There are a number of overlooked business benefits of social media.
If you’ve been avoiding it all this time, then it might feel like you have a lot of catching up to do. But don’t worry! Although social media is here to stay, we’re also here to help. And while we have lots of tips to get you started, we also want you to understand why it’s important.
Stay top of mind with your network
A referral happens in a moment — you never know where it will come from or when. Don’t you want to be top of mind when someone asks for an agent or business recommendation? Social media helps you stay in front of your customers so you’re always remembered.
Even if you’re not on social media all day, a lot of your network is. It’s important to maintain a presence in order to ensure you’re always in your connections’ line of sight. Especially in longer sales cycle industries, like mortgage or real estate.
For that reason alone, you should be posting on your social media networks with some regularity. Luckily, we offer many packages to do that for you if it’s something you don’t have the time to do yourself.
Compete with and prospect new generations
Millennials — another hot topic in the small business world. Whether the next generation befuddles or inspires you, they are still your next generation of clientele. You have to know how to get their attention if you want any hope of getting their business.
This generation incorporates social media into every aspect of their lives. And they are now in financial positions to start making decisions that will impact your business. In the next few years, many millennials are going to be first-time home buyers…learning about insurance policies… investing their money…and applying for large, goal-oriented loans. They’ll be using social media to interface with more experienced professionals and small business owners in order to make those decisions. If you aren’t on social media when they need you, they’re going to go with someone who is.
The next generation isn’t just your clientele either — they’re also your competition. Younger agents and proprietors understand what social media can do and use it to grow their business. They grew up online and know how to maneuver it effectively, giving them a strong competitive advantage in seeking out new business from their existing networks. They have the upper hand on an entire generation of clients, so you’ll have to get there with them if you want to continue generating new business and converting leads in the next few years.
Acquire new business through online reviews
This leads naturally into our next topic — online reviews and testimonials. The next generation of clients (and every generation after them) grew up with Amazon and Yelp being valid, critical sources of information on products and services. We’ve been conditioned to check online reviews before we make any decisions. Even if we receive a solid referral, we check online to see what other people have to say.
In about ten or so years, you can bet that a good half of your industry’s book of business is going to be from generations that grew up with online reviews. Now imagine trying to get new business in that world without online reviews and without social media. You’ll exhaust your book of business and struggle to be found and remembered in an evolving world.
Sites like Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn have functionalities for endorsements, referrals, online testimonials, and business recommendations. Collecting online testimonials from your clients will help you boost your online presence. Similarly, leaving positive reviews for businesses and vendors will increase the B2B referral traffic coming your way.
Develop reputable credibility
Using social media to demonstrate that you have the knowledge your connections need is going to help you speak to the next generation of clients. You are already the expert. You use your host of knowledge day in and day out to sell houses, make financial decisions, and guide your clients. Social media is merely a way to let others know your areas of expertise.
Posting articles with current information on your industry can be powerful when paired with relevant content that your consumers are eager to read. Marketing automation services (like OutboundEngine) that feed your network trending content will keep them interested, engaged and remembering that you’re an expert in your field.
It’s important to remember balance here — your network isn’t going to find real estate data or interest rate changes as interesting or urgent as you. You want to keep them engaged with industry-adjacent information – such as decorating trends – so they pay attention when you do educate them with something a bit more urgent and technical.
Define and grow your brand
Social media is a new and versatile environment to define your brand in ways you never dreamed. With a universe of information and media at your fingertips, you can find your voice and make yourself memorable in ways that weren’t before possible.
Are you an expert in multiple fields? Are you an artist as a hobby? Do you do a ton of volunteer work and give back to your community? Are you a member of a board in a local organization?
These are nuances in your professional identity that are easily highlighted and well received on social media. You can cross-brand your efforts to make you more memorable to your audience and tap into other networks and communities. If there is a cause you care about, people who have the same passion outside of their line of work will be easier to identify as prospects.
For example, we recently spoke to a real estate agent who is very involved in the foster care world of his service area. He has adopted two of his own and helped connect many others with their permanent families. He’s very in touch with the foster network in his state and thrives on finding homes for couples looking to grow into families. His involvement in this community has allowed him to cross-brand himself as an expert in real estate and also an expert in navigating the foster care system — opening his business to a whole niche sub-sector of clients in need of his services.
Getting online and engaging with your book of business is critical to keep your business momentum in forward motion in the information age. Maintaining an online presence is crucial for business and reminding your customers who you are and what you do is much easier with social media automation. Use social to stay remembered and competitive as the next generation of social savvy professionals rolls into your field.
Originally published 10/8/15; Updated 2/13/17