The sheer fact that I’m going to rain derision on Social Networks on a Blog makes me chuckle to myself…
So… a lot of you folks are spending a significant amount of time working on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. You’re researching Search Engine Optimization and Google Adwords. You are looking up Hot Topics (no… not Hot Topic the Goth and “Punk” one-stop-shop…) to Blog about in order to increase web traffic.
If you are doing online commerce, fine.
If you are a service provider, you may be spending your energy in the wrong places.
Let me explain…
But… for me, these are all ways of keeping in touch with folks that know me, either from having met in-person or having been introduced “virtually”.
When I worked for a stockbroker/investment advisor back in the mid-nineties, we sent out a monthly newsletter to keep our name in the minds of prospects and clients alike. We catered separate newsletters for equity players and income seekers. I made sure my broker stayed on topic and followed up with people who had expressed an interest via phone. No, I wasn’t a cold-caller – I interacted with folks who had expressly indicated an interest in staying in touch.
To me, that is what Social networking is good at.
I drive most of my own traffic to my website. I’m not overly worried about just how search engine optimized it is because I don’t want to do business with people who have found me from a Google search frankly. I would much rather get a referral from a client or colleague. The calibre of the client from my perspective goes up immensely if they are coming to me because of a recommendation or testimonial rather than because I was the top search result in a search engine.
I want people to hire me for what I do. My style, my attitude, my ability.
Not because I hired a specialist to get me more hits or higher results in a web search engine.
Those things can be bought and aren’t indicative of who I am personally.
Remember though… I provide a service that typically bills in the thousands of dollars. I offer boutique service based on client needs, not just a preconceived package that people need to be slotted into.
If I was selling t-shirts, automotive parts or widgets I might feel differently.
But I’m not.
I’m selling myself.
And I’m not selling out.
The Pareto Principle states roughly that “80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients”.
I learned that when I was working for the stockbroker.
Without even realizing I was doing it, way back in 1999 when I started down this road I started talking to people and planting the seeds that would eventually germinate into my core business clientele. No hard sale techniques, just make a good impression and make sure people know what you do.
1999 was years before Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn existed. In fact, back then the Internet pretty much sucked if you weren’t an Über-geek.
Back then you needed to meet people.
Today is no different. Social Networks are a tool for staying in touch with people and to be referred to people. They are not the be-all-and-end-all of your overarching marketing schema.
My good friend and colleague photographer Wendy D recently held her annual Milkshake Party where she invites clients, friends and colleagues to come into her studio, drink some milkshakes and mix and mingle. This year she tried something different and invited a handful of folks from LinkedIn whom she had connected with but had never met.
Her conversion rate for LinkedIn invites to attendance was impressive. VERY impressive.
In this day and age, people still want to meet the people they do business with.
Interpersonal relationships are still important today.
All but one of my major suppliers of goods and services are folks I have met personally and consider friends. The other supplier is pretty much the largest player in the industry from a sales perspective and even then I get to interact with them at the industry mega-event NAB Show.
So my advice to you is beware of false metrics. I know it feels great to have 5000 friends on Facebook, 10k followers on Twitter and a million views on your Blog. A front page on a Google Search is marketed as a must-have.
But if you aren’t converting those metrics into business, what’s the point?
Stay in touch with people. Use the tools at your disposal. Make sure people know who you are.
But if you are in a service related industry, provide customer service.
Follow the Pareto Principle and work on increasing the calibre of those 20% of clients who are delivering (directly or via referrals) the 80% of your business as well as the calibre of the service you provide to them.
Turn customers into clients.
And reward them!
Thanks for reading!