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Leveraging Personal Networks for Your Business

Leveraging Personal Networks for Your Business

By Karen Geier

It’s generally accepted that to promote yourself and your company, you need to be on social media. This extends further when you and your company are promoting a new initiative or product and need others to help spread the message. Many people simply share company updates to their Facebook or LinkedIn pages as short link updates. But these often get lost in the noise of social media, which is counterproductive to your self-promotion efforts.

So how do you cut through the noise and get your friends and business associates to be your best online cheerleaders? Try these few tried-and-true marketing methods – they will help you achieve a higher rate of success and allow you to share your message properly.

Define Success Upfront

It’s important to go into your campaign knowing what you want out of it. What defines success for you? Is it raising money for a charitable effort? Is it click-throughs to a website or signups to a marketing list? Is it shares of your message? Know what you want, and build your campaigns to drive people to that conclusion. Craft your messaging around a clear call-to-action.

Build and Segment Your Lists

Segmenting your lists is important to this type of a campaign because it allows you to make your message more appealing to different groups of people.

Facebook allows you to easily segment your friends into lists (instructions here), which is extremely helpful. LinkedIn offers something similar. Twitter has a lists function, but it can be buggy, so you might be better off just building an Excel spreadsheet with Twitter followers you’d like to reach.

You can start by simply segmenting people into “Friends,” “Family,” “Close Business” and “Extended Business” for now, which will help define how personal your appeal will be. The farther removed the contact, the more professional your message should be.

Tailor Your Message to Each Segment

Imagine you’re in a room with a key member of each of those groups. How would you tell them about your amazing new product to get them on board? Craft the message in language those groups are accustomed to hearing you use and that they will relate to. Anything artificial will ruin the efficacy of your message. Save personal appeals and stories for those in closer circles to you.

Reach Out to Some People Outside of Social Media

This might sound counter-intuitive, but you should reach out to those people who are closest to you and offer the best chance of spreading your message to people of high influence with a personal appeal in a direct message or through e-mail. This will help them spread your posts when they see them in their timelines. If you can get insider interest up front, you will stand a better chance of achieving the reach and shares your campaign needs.

Share a Short, Well Crafted Message

Social media is not the place for long, drawn-out stories. You need to quickly capture interest, get your request in, and produce a call-to-action. Think of a really punchy headline and work from there. Keep this sharing message under 125 words, or you’ll lose people.

For instance, if you’re trying to promote a product, don’t ask people just to “check it out.” Think about funny or strange headlines to make people stop when they are scrolling. Use Upworthy or BuzzFeed as a template for how to catch people’s attention. Asking questions or using intriguing phrases works well here.

Make a personal appeal to friends and family. To business associates, mention how hard you worked and give credit to people you have in common.

This will take time and many revisions. If you know professional copywriters, ask them to proof your work.

Don’t Chase or Heavily Remind People

Think about your appeal like inviting people to your party. You usually invite people once and remind them once along the way. No one wants to go to the party of someone who won’t shut up about it, or keeps bothering people about it. The fastest way to be muted is to pester those closest to you.

Don’t Expect Everyone to Help

As much as it would be nice for everyone to give your campaign a boost, it simply won’t happen. People will be away, not see your message, or think they will come back to their timeline and share, click, or comment later. Do not worry. If you’ve done your homework properly, your message will have been spread enough to boost your campaign.

Friends and business associates can be your best allies, but you need to adhere to a few etiquette rules. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for a favor in public or at work in front of colleagues, don’t ask for it on social media without qualifying the message.

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