You’ve heard the gurus tout their formula for creating a loyal following on social media that ultimately translates into sales. The steps seem simple enough:

  1. ) Design your brand
  2. ) Identify your message
  3. ) Get your message out
  4. ) Amplify your message

So, we write and share articles or post inspirational quotes that will resonate with our online communities. We follow others who are aligned with our own goals and then we re-post and re-tweet their messages to our followers and hope for reciprocity. According to the social networking guidebook, we are doing everything right.

And how is that working for you? Are you seeing any results? And if you think you are getting results, how are you measuring them?

As a speaker, trainer, and coach, I work with numerous creative entrepreneurs who keep telling me the same story. They follow the rules of social networking because the gurus say they should. They often start off diligent with their social networking strategy but they eventually get too busy with more pressing concerns. They log onto Facebook only when they have time to kill, they schedule a mandatory couple of tweets, and they stay away from LinkedIn because they don’t quite “get” it.

Let’s be real—many people don’t understand how spending a whole lot of time on social networking is actually putting money in the bank.

What’s missing?

To understand social networking and make it work for your business, it’s important to first understand the WHY before you roll out a strategy. If WHY you are posting and tweeting is unclear, you will continue to spend valuable time socializing without knowing if your efforts are effective or not (i.e. measuring the results). To help you understand your social networking WHY, I’m going to review the logic behind the gurus’ steps.

  1. ) Social networking is about influence. The more your message and unique viewpoint is followed and re-posted, the more influence you have. In business today, influence = competency. Therefore, all businesses must advertise/socialize—even the one you run from your kitchen table.
  2. ) We no longer rely on prominent advertising outlets to tell us about new gadgets, trends, and styles, and about who’s making a splash in the photography industry. Instead, we look for “social proof” in our physical and virtual communities. You gain social proof when lots of people are following you and sharing your posts with others.
  3. For the sake a familiar example, let’s look at the traditional life-cycle for products and services called the bell curve.

    Bell Curve
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
    • Pinterest

    If someone else (innovators) likes a product or service, we are intrigued. If more people use it (early adopters) and rave about it, we all must have it (early and late majority.) So, you have to woo the innovators to stand any chance of making meaningful sales.

  4. ) Attracting early adopters to your business is how you get vetted and build a track record. Your influence grows because you are believable, consistent, and your message resonates with others. From there, your consistent influence makes it much easier for you to persuade the majority that what you’re offering is worth buying.

  5. ) It’s your job to identify and show consumers why they should hire you. Your point-of-view needs to be clearly defined and your internet persona must be aligned with your USP (unique selling proposition). Otherwise, you may come across as being fake.

  6. ) Social networking influence is measured by the number and quality of interactions you create with your community and followers (a.k.a. your tribe). Once you become influential in those circles, you have gained the power to persuade. Now, you can tell them what you offer and the problem it solves for them. The clout you have already earned from the innovators and early adopters is the social proof the majority of people are looking for before they buy. You’ll be finding more clients the RIGHT way!

Before you get back to posting updates and writing blog posts, decide what you want to achieve first. Study the bell diagram and identify who your current customers are. Gain influence by communicating with a clear viewpoint. Why is it interesting, why are you posting it, why does it matter to your followers? Instead of just posting what you think we may find interesting, tell us WHY it matters so we can understand more about who you are and learn to trust you.

Stay tuned for next week’s article where I’ll show you The HOW of Social Networking.

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