Twitter this, Facebook that, Link in here, Tweet there, Facebook everywhere. For a print shop owner who is already burning the midnight oil, that’s pretty overwhelming. And while we know that joining the social media world is unavoidable, no one is really telling us how to do it.
My advice, let’s break social media down to the basics. This article is the first in a series about exactly how to make use of each of the big three social media giants—LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I hope to take the mystery out of these tools and make them manageable and relevant to your specific audience—the print buyer.
I’d like to start with the social media tool that I believe should be your first step—LinkedIn.
Why start here? It’s purely a business community. LinkedIn makes life a little easier just by that fact alone. It takes the guesswork out of what’s appropriate because there’s very little (if any) posting of personal information. It will be easy to understand what type of information to add to your profile simply by reviewing a few others.
It’s easy to connect. When you ask someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, you’re not asking to be their “friend” you are simply asking to be their business associate—which you already are. So acceptance is much quicker and easier than with other social media tools.
Your people are here. Do a quick search for 10 of your customers and I bet you find that more than half already have a LinkedIn profile. You can also use your existing email contacts and LinkedIn will do the contact searching for you. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
It’s so very searchable. An updated, active profile has a good chance not only of being highly visible on LinkedIn, but ranking highly on search engines in general.
Step One: Set Up
When you join LinkedIn you will be required to set up a profile. Add basic information about your business self, such as company information and, most importantly, your company website. If you’ve already completed this step, make sure your information is up to date.
Add a quick blurb about your company under “Summary” and be sure to add a few items to “Specialties” so that if someone is searching for a printer with your expertise, your profile may come up. Think about words a print buyer would use to search for a provider and add those to your specialties—direct mail, marketing consulting, or logo design, for example.
You may also want to add information to your “Professional Headline.” This is the blurb that will appear directly under your name in your profile. It will default to your current job position if you don’t add anything; however, this is one of the best ways to get noticed if someone searches for your industry. Try to answer the question “How do you help people?” here instead. But don’t stress over it if it doesn’t come easily—remember you can update your profile at any time.
Ignore that “percent complete” number on the side of the profile. Don’t get caught up in details like this. Your profile will still get noticed through other tactics.
Step Two: Connect
Small steps are key to keeping this part of LinkedIn manageable. Commit to connecting to five people per week. They could be customers, business associates, vendors, or other employees in your company—actually the more diversified your connections, the better. If you are engaged in professional organizations, that’s a great place to find contacts that quickly connect you to the community. A great feature of LinkedIn is once you are connected to someone, you are immediately connected to their entire network (“six degrees” style), so you might be surprised how quickly and easily you can build a network.
Also, LinkedIn can do a lot of the work for you. The system can use your email address book and find those contacts for you on LinkedIn. Once you have a started a network, the system will continuously send suggestions of people you might know based on your location, business, and other connections you have. You’ll find those suggestions on the home page of your LinkedIn profile in a box called “People You May Know.”