Now that you’ve created your profile and prepared your social media presence so that it provides some interest to those that visit it, you are ready to make connections that will help you to start building your network.
This is a critically important step! Posting your news, success stories, items of interest or promotional material will have next to no effect if you are communicating to no one. So you need to start inviting people and other businesses to connect with you, by either following their account, liking some of their content, or some other interaction.
But before we get into who to interact with, let’s briefly consider the benefits of following other social media accounts:
- Most importantly in a B2B ‘awareness’ campaign, they are notified of your existence
- You get to see their content on your social media feed (allowing you to regularly interact)
- Their connections will start seeing your account as a suggestion (particularly if they follow you back)
- You create opportunities for collaboration and mutual social media support (a subject of a future discussion)
So the activity involved in building up your social network is just as important as the content that you post!
So let’s consider 7 groups of social media users that you can focus on to build an initial network:
1. Key suppliers
If anyone has a genuine mutual interest in the success of your marketing activities, its your suppliers. So make sure you follow their social media accounts and support their marketing efforts.
2. Existing happy customers
Do you have good customers that you have an ongoing relationship with? Connecting with them and supporting their social media activity demonstrates your genuine interest in their business success and a desire to maintain a positive working partnership.
3. Other businesses you work with
If your accountant, electrician or gardening contractor is on social media (and you like their work), connect with them. If you are a small business targeting other businesses in your area, these kinds of connections can help other locals discover you.
4. Local community and business organisations
Most regions or major towns have a Chamber of Commerce or other business or tourism groups that encourage the success of local enterprise. Your regional council and local news agencies also will have a large number of business followers, so connecting with these accounts allows you to find out about, and support, community initiatives.
5. Relevant government or representative agencies
Depending on your industry, you may have a government agency that represents either your profession or that of your customer base. In addition to the network-building advantages, following these accounts helps you to keep up with the concerns or requirements of your customers.
6. Connections of industry connections
Many small businesses targeting specific B2B markets will have associated, non-competitor industries that also target the same group, so finding businesses in these industries and following them can also help you to discover potential clientele.
7. Family and friends (or their business accounts)
Personally, I am not into asking family or friends to connect with my B2B social media unless they are genuinely interested, or are in business themselves. But I imagine that everyone will have their own comfort level in this regard.
One final personal opinion – don’t use automated follower-building services. You want your choice of connections to be meaningful. Communicating to a group that doesn’t know you or care about what you do is almost as useless as communicating to no one at all.
It’s not a competition to see how many ‘followers’ you can get – its about encouraging genuine connections that can have a beneficial impact on your business
Building your social media network is not a once-off task, it’s something you’ll need to regularly work on – so don’t think you need to spend hours and hours connecting with hundreds of accounts initially. In fact, it can be counterproductive to do too much all at once – a gradual building of your network seems to be more beneficial.
So, when you have found and followed around 50-100 other relevant accounts, allow a couple of days to see how much interaction you get. Remember to promote your new social media presence to those you are physically in contact with. You will then be ready to start adding regular content that will also help you to further build your network. This will be the topic of our next post.