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Use Your Social Media Presence to Increase Credibility and Establish Yourself as an Expert

The rising popularity of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube present a valuable opportunity for business owners.

But before we get there, let’s talk about a common misconception about social media.

Many marketers seem to believe that social media is a new development.

But social media is not new—in fact, it is thousands of years old. Digital tools like Twitter are simply the latest version.

Humans are relationally oriented… we like to talk, gossip, share experiences, and strengthen friendships. This was true in 3000 BC, and it is true today. Sure, modern technology makes connecting faster, easier, and more convenient than ever before—but  there is nothing new about our desire to connect with one another.

Understanding how social media fits into everyday life is the key to unlocking its power. Today, many people use social media like the telephone was used 20 years ago. On a daily basis, I personally use Facebook to not only share personal stories and photos but also for business tips and events. I also regularly use Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn ,YouTube as well as social bookmarking sites to share both business and personal stories.

Sharing is nothing new here. Social media doesn’t represent a mystical fourth dimension—it’s just a tool that people can use as they see fit. And once a business owner understands this reality, they can create and execute a strategy designed to engage with customers and prospects in their market.

Used correctly, a business owner’s social media presence can provide increased visibility, credibility, and ultimately more business. Here’s how to begin:

  1. Create profile pages that reflect your expertise. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another social network, it is critical that your profile page represents your personal brand (and personality) and establishes you as an expert. From the choice of your picture to your written biography, be sure that every element of your social media profiles communicate the brand and image that you want to convey.
  2. Use your social media presence to share and break down developments that impact your industry. By reporting and analyzing news that matters to your industry, you position yourself as well connected and knowledgeable. For instance, as a retirement advisor, you could note the passage of a new law through congress—and then break down the implications of this new law for your clients and potential clients. As a dentist, you could break down the benefits and drawbacks of a new toothpaste or mouthwash. A real estate broker could break down recent market trends, provide projections for the future, or keep his or her audience in the loop regarding homebuyer assistance programs. Whatever your area of expertise, the key is to report and analyze the news authoritatively—and in a way that makes sense to your customers, clients, and prospects.
  3. Interact with your followers and fans—answer questions and share suggestions. If you spend much time on Twitter, in particular, you will notice that users are constantly asking questions on a wide variety of subjects. As a dentist, obviously, you should pay attention to questions that pertain to oral health. Whenever possible, answer the question… or provide a link to a helpful resource. This type of interaction is a win on two fronts—most obviously, it provides a great boost to the relationship between yourself and the individual that you assist. But even more importantly, it sends a strong message to your entire audience. Answering questions makes it obvious that you know what you are talking about—and it makes you appear friendly and approachable as well.
  4. Regularly share tips or hints that help your audience. Many business owners have discovered the value in publishing blog entries and articles that provide actionable tips to their audience—and this approach works well for social media networks as well, albeit on a smaller scale. As a real estate agent, for instance, you could post a "homebuyers tip of the week" every Monday. This could feature financing tips, help for buyers seeking to narrow down a huge list of homes to a small number of final choices, or whatever you think would be helpful to your audience. This is a great way to provide value to your current customers—and it’s a great way to position yourself as an expert in the eyes of your audience.
  5. Engage in conversation—don’t make a sales pitch. This is an area that many business owners go off course, and the error stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of social media users. As we discussed earlier in this article, social media is a tool used to communicate. In fact, I like to think of social media networks as a giant cocktail party. You wouldn’t walk into a party shouting "I SELL INSURANCE!" at the top of your lungs, would you? More likely, you’d buy drinks for people and engage in conversation.  Obviously, it’s ideal if these conversations center upon your industry, but it’s also a good idea to invest in creating relationships with your followers and fans, even if the conversation doesn’t directly correlate to your business. Remember that "people buy people"—and that anything you can do to establish trust in a relationship is a positive.

Do you have a social media presence? If not, it’s time to get in the game! Thousands of potential customers join networks such as Facebook and Twitter every day—and if you aren’t actively seeking to engage them, you can bet that your competitors are!

If you ARE active on social media, great—but are you utilizing your presence to build credibility and position yourself as an expert within your industry? The five tips I’ve shared above will help you move in the right direction. If you’d like more information or aren’t sure where to begin, feel free to get in touch with me today!